ON SPORTS: Love of game keeps Bay City graduate in football
April 20, 2013 at 11 p.m.
Updated April 20, 2013 at 11:21 p.m.
Brandon Brinkley doesn't need to watch tape to know when he's doing something wrong.
Brinkley doesn't care if he's playing at Bay City's Memorial Stadium, Houston's Robertson Stadium or in front of a couple of hundred fans at Patti Welder Stadium.
He remains his own biggest critic.
"If someone was grading me out here, I'd probably have a bad grade, honestly," Brinkley said. "It has to do with me not running to the ball and not finishing the play. So I'd probably have a bad grade."
Brinkley's assessment comes at halftime of the Victoria Texans' 56-0 win over the Mathis Tigers, and moments after he returned an interception - his fifth in the last two games - 22 yards for a touchdown.
But Brinkley's attitude is the reason he started in the secondary at Bay City and earned a scholarship to the University of Houston before playing two seasons in the Arena Football League.
He decided to return to Bay City after the 2012 season and landed a job working in labor relations at nuclear power plants.
But he still had the desire to play and joined the Texans, who are currently 6-0 in the Crossroads Amateur Football League.
"I said I was going to give it up," insisted the 26-year-old Brinkley. "But I just wanted to stay in shape, and I've still got a love for the game and wanted to keeping going at it."
Brinkley played on three straight playoff teams at Bay City, including the 2003 team that advanced to the Class 4A, Division I state final.
He played in 53 consecutive games at Houston, including four bowl games, played his final college game in the 2010 Armed Forces Bowl, and finished his college career with 197 tackles and 11 interceptions.
He began his Arena Football career with the Milwaukee Mustangs in 2011. He played for the San Jose Sabercats last season, before being traded to the Chicago Rush and back to San Jose.
"I've been in Arena Football for the last two years," Brinkley said. "Being back on grass feels way better than that carpet turf. I'm out here having fun. I haven't played 11-man football since the Armed Forces Bowl. I'm getting back in the routine."
Brinkley enjoys playing with former Bay City teammates Cordero Williams and Terrance Flagg.
"There's some great talent," Brinkley said. "There will be some players that I played against in high school and college. They still have a love for the game just like me."
Brinkley is also happy to be back at free safety, after playing cornerback his last three seasons at Houston and in the Arena league.
"This is the first time since my freshmen year in college," he said. "I like free safety because you're like the quarterback of the defense. I just remember reading plays and reading alignments and just being at the right spot at the right time."
Brinkley realizes he's taking a risk playing semi-pro football, but tries not think about injuries.
"I think when you worry about getting hurt, that's when it happens," he said. "I try not to worry about it. I don't want to not go hard on every play. I kind of watch myself and keep from jumping on dog piles and all that."
Brinkley is one class shy of earning his degree in kinesiology with a minor in health and sports administration.
He is considering returning to school in the fall and beginning what he hopes will be a high school coaching career.
But playing for the Texans may alter his path.
"I'm kind of missing it," Brinkley said. "I have some friends playing Arena Football and they call me about the games all the time. The second half, I might go back."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.