MONTEREY — In a league that showcased Pro Football Hall of Famer Terrell Owens and former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, the spotlight belonged to former Palma and Monterey Peninsula College quarterback Mitch Kidd.
The Arena Football League was a springboard to Kurt Warner becoming a Hall of Fame quarterback in the NFL. That has not been lost on the mind of Kidd, who has spent time with the former Rams and Cardinals star.
“My goal is to play in the NFL,” said Kidd, who is spending this week working with kids at the Johnson-Toney Football Camp at Monterey Peninsula College.
The just-concluded Fan Controlled Football league in Atlanta saw the quarterback gather the Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year honors.
The players voted for the MVP award, while the fans chose Kidd as the Offensive Player of the Year.
“It was so much fun,” said the 5-foot-11 Kidd of the 7-on-7 indoor league. “It has enabled me to get so much film. Four guys from this league got NFL workouts last year.”
While the 35-by-50-yard field dimensions of an indoor game provide a unique and compacted perspective to the sport, Kidd shredded defenses with an improved passion motion.
In an eight-game season, Kidd tossed a league-high 18 touchdown passes — with two more in the postseason — leading the league in completions and passing yards.
The 26-year-old threw just five picks in 104 attempts — three in the last two games — and added four rushing touchdowns on the ground in taking his team to the postseason.
“Hopefully it opens another door,” said Kidd, who was 12-0 in league play as a starter for Palma in 2012-2013, guiding them to two league championships.
Having played the previous two years in the National Arena League, Kidd jumped to the Fan Controlled Football league, which allows fans to call plays.
“Fans that are selected call all the plays,” Kidd said. “The fan sends a play in on an iPad, where our coaches pipe the play to me in my helmet.”
Kidd will interact with fans after drives, praising their play calling or making suggestions on what he believes will work against the defense on the next series.
“I talk with the fans all the time,” Kidd said. “We talk about what’s working and what’s not. It’s like having 25 coaches. These are knowledgeable fans.”
Much like the United States Football League did in its inaugural year this season, all 150 players in the Fan Controlled League were put in a hotel in Atlanta and played all games in the same venue for the season.
Unlike the USFL, only players that were franchise-tagged remained with their teams for the first four weeks. Kidd was among those that were franchised tagged.
Those not franchised tagged could be moved during the first four weeks of the season, making it more challenging with new faces on the roster each week.
“One week we didn’t have a true running back,” Kidd said. “It didn’t work out so well. I had the same receiver for the first couple of weeks. We built some chemistry. But it is challenging.”
While Manziel’s team won the title, it was Kidd that players chose as the MVP of the league, as his performance made him a fan favorite.
With the XFL returning in 2023, along with the USFL, Kidd could have choices as he pursues a childhood dream of playing in the NFL, one that seems to improve each year.
“Guys start to peak at 25,” Kidd said. “I’m a late bloomer. I don’t feel like I’ve reached where I can be. Honestly, I had to grow up a lot.”
As Kidd chases the same path that Warner pursued while working in a grocery store in Iowa, he’s gotten an opportunity to work with the former Super Bowl champion at his Arizona home.
“He worked on my mechanics,” Kidd said. “He told me how much stuff translated indoors. I needed a quicker release. It made a massive difference.”
Warner made his NFL debut at 28.
Kidd will likely remain in the area during the fall season and work as an assistant at Stevenson with their quarterbacks.
Spending the week at the Johnson-Toney Football Camp is a reminder of when he was a youth and discovered his love and passion for the sport at the same camp.
“I had a great time being a kid and learning something at the same time,” said Kidd, who is working with the 9-11-year-old group. “I just want them to enjoy the game. Kids are always absorbing information even if they don’t know it.”
Kidd, who is getting married this summer, has not put a timetable on his career, as long as he believes he is progressing.
“Playing the game has to have a benefit,” Kidd said. “I want to get back on a big field and do the same things I did last season. Sometimes you just need a door to open up.”
Contributed by local news sources