By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG
Canceled combines. Delayed or canceled Pro Days. XFL and indoor football seasons gone or pushed back.
While football fans are reveling in the fact that free agency and trades for current NFL players are still happening (despite the situation our nation is in), we can’t forget about those players whose lives have been put on hold.
One of these players is Jarvis Courtney, or as most know him as, Tank. Tank is an indoor arena player who was hoping to catch the eye of the NFL this season. A man that has been fighting his whole life for his dream.
A dream he promised his grandmother he would never give up on.
Tank is originally from Lexington Park, Maryland. He graduated from Chopticon High School where he played football and was selected to play in the All-Star Football game in 2012. However, when it came time for him to play in college, it wasn’t in the cards. Like so many other families out there, his family was struggling and needed him to help out. Tank did end up going back to school, attending Louisburg College, but he didn’t play ball there.
I’m 6’6 290 play left tackle and center and fullback can do it all I’m versatile I’ve prepared for years and all I need is one of these @NFL teams to give me my shot I won’t let the organization down won’t let the fan base down but most of all I won’t let myself down or my son?? pic.twitter.com/n00LpMyuGK
— Jarvis?Tank??Courtney#OneChance (@FRANK_TANK_52) January 6, 2020
The love of the game never left Tank. He knew he wanted to play and was willing to work as hard as it took to get him to his goal. Then two major events in his life made him push even harder… a birth and a death.
Tank spent a lot of time with his grandmother growing up. She became one of the most important people in his world. Sadly, he lost her in 2016.
“I would go to her house every morning. I would go over and eat breakfast with her. She was my best friend, my only friend, and when I lost her to cancer it killed me because a piece of me left with her.”
“She believed in me and she always taught me to keep the faith.”
But before she passed, he made her a promise. “I promised her that I’ll make it to the NFL and the next day she was gone.”
This was an extremely difficult time for him because not only did he lose one of the most important people in his life, he found himself homeless. Courtney had been homeless on and off before, but this was especially difficult because he didn’t have his grandmother to give him the emotional support she had before.
“I was homeless for at least three years almost four, and it was really the most scariest part of my life not knowing where I would sleep or eat.”
I love you Jarvis Jr ??? I will make you proud my young king. pic.twitter.com/8xZAXSJbLg
— Jarvis?Tank??Courtney#OneChance (@FRANK_TANK_52) January 28, 2020
Then, in February 2019, along came the other major event that changed his life… the birth of his son, Jarvis Courtney Jr. It was then that Tank knew he had to keep that promise he had made to his grandmother. “I don’t want my son to ever go through that (being homeless) like I did.”
During that same time, Tank heard that the West Virginia Roughriders, an indoor football team in the NAL (National Arena League), had announced they were having open tryouts. He jumped on the chance, went to the tryouts, and made the team. That same season, he changed teams and went to play for the Wenatchee Valley Skyhawks, which are a part of the Professional Indoor Football Organization in the American West Conference. It was the team’s inaugural year, and Tank was selected as an offensive lineman to the AWFC Second Team All-Conference.
Courtney is now under contract with the Salina Liberty. The Liberty is based in Salina, Kansas, and is part of the Champions Indoor Football League. Then COVID-19 hit, which brought the season to an abrupt stop. All of a sudden, none of the players knew when they would play, or IF they would play at all. It was crushing. “I was dominating in camp and ready to play. I was hoping to get noticed by an NFL team.”
The devil whispered in my ear, “You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.” I whispered back in the devil’s ear, “I AM THE STORM.”⛈
— Jarvis?Tank??Courtney#OneChance (@FRANK_TANK_52) February 6, 2020
Another aspect, one that is effecting players all over the country, is the financial impact the delay is having. Players in indoor football don’t get paid until they play a game. This leaves many of them stranded in the towns they play in without pay.
With the uncertainty of how long this will go on, and unsure of his next step, Tank decided to start posting on Twitter to get his story out there. That is where the #onechance hashtag came from.
Tank started using the hashtag last year when he first started playing indoor football. “I said all I need is one chance, one opportunity, one workout to reach my goal. I knew I could make a team in the NFL because I believe and have faith (in my goal).” And Twitter responded. People started retweeting him and using his hashtag.
“I have so many people who believe in me and want to see me play. These people have shown me true loyalty.”
My time is coming you best believe that @NFL . Better days are coming you have been through a lot . Now it’s time for you to shine. My struggles developed the character and strength I have today .#ONECHANCE?☝️ pic.twitter.com/fkXIFDU1bd
— Jarvis?Tank??Courtney#OneChance (@FRANK_TANK_52) March 16, 2020
I asked Tank what he wanted people, teams even, to know about him and he said “I will dominate the Arena League again like I did last year, and I will dominate every opponent I go against. I will show them whatever quarterback I am blocking for I will protect them with my life.”
“I come from a small town where a lot of people give up on their dreams to settle for less. I don’t want to be that person. I want to show people and kids in my town and all across the world that you can achieve anything you put your mind to. You have to work hard to accomplish your goal and you have to put God first through it all. All I need is one chance. Everyone deserves a chance in life.”
Tank also told me his favorite bible scripture, one that motivates him every day, is Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
While this article is about Jarvis “Tank” Courtney, his story is common to many.
Players out there who don’t get the flashy Pro Days or have high powered agents.
Players who are working their way up the football food chain, just hoping for one team, one scout, #OneChance to be seen.
Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG