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CEDAR RAPIDS — Adrian Arrington was ready to get back in the game.
It has been more than four years since the former Cedar Rapids Washington prep had his professional football career cut short due to a pair of knee injuries.
While there were brief forays into life insurance and marketing professions, neither provided the same fulfillment.
Now 31, Arrington returns to football as offensive coordinator of the Cedar Rapids Titans, who open their sixth Indoor Football League season against the Green Bay Blizzard Friday at 7:05 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“It feels good just to be back in football,” Arrington said. “I’ve been completely away from it. … Bringing back a lot of memories and it also feels good just to be able to teach these guys the things that I’ve learned.”
Arrington played collegiately at Michigan and was a seventh-round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2008. He was activated from the practice squad 14 games into the 2009 season, one in which the Saints claimed their first Super Bowl championship.
“It was incredible,” Arrington said. “I actually got a couple of playoff catches in. … Just to be in that situation was just incredible and a dream come true.”
Within a span of six months in 2012, Arrington tore the meniscus – the cartilage between the thighbone and shinbone – in both of his knees. Arrington accepted an injury settlement from the Saints, and the lack of knee cartilage underneath the kneecaps resulted in failed physical examinations with the Houston Texans and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I had never had any knee issues in my whole life,” Arrington said. “It’s a tough transition, once you’re done. You’ve been doing something with a set routine your entire life, then all of a sudden it is over and you’re kind of like, ‘What do I do now?’”
Overtures from area high schools inspired Arrington to consider a coaching path. When former University of Iowa wide receiver Marvin McNutt was named head coach of the Titans in October, Arrington decided the time was right and picked up the phone.
“Why not have a guy from the Big Ten?” McNutt said. “A receiver, we both had the same coach (Erik Campbell coached receivers at Michigan from 1995-2007 and Iowa from 2008-12). We kind of have the same mind in that sense. It was an easy choice to pick him.”
Arrington has recently reached out to officials from his alma mater at Cedar Rapids Washington and offered his assistance once a new head football coach is named. For now, his focus is shortening his learning curve of the indoor game. Arrington admits he had never attended a Titans game during the first five years of the franchise, and was initially struck by the smaller dimensions of the playing field.
“The thing about here, playing this football, everything is quick,” Arrington said. “It has to be real quick. The windows, especially for a passing game, the windows are real small so the quarterback has to be thinking quick. The ball has to be out of his hands quick. They’ve got to be able to read fast and quickly.”
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