Chances are, you’ve come across highlights of the full-contact 7-on-7 A7FL (American 7s Football League). Not surprisingly, you probably questioned the sanity of any player willing to take and deliver such devastating hits without the protection of a helmet.
What can’t be questioned about the men who do suit up for the league is their love of the game. Corey “CP3” Price will be entering his sixth campaign when the A7FL’s eighth season kicks off on April 11 on FITE. Price is one of the standouts in the league at quarterback, and like all the players, has his own unique journey that brought him to the A7.
As a high school standout at wide receiver, cornerback, and kick/punt returner, wide receiver, and cornerback, Price had to turn down a collegiate scholarship so he could work to help his mom, and sister, who was pregnant at the time with his nephew. Price never second-guessed the decision, but when he learned about the A7 in 2015, he knew it was something that would give him the euphoria of competing seriously that would help ease the burdens of the times when he wondered, “What if?”
“This league has saved me from a lot of depression,” Price says. “To be out there and do what I love, it gives me a sense of fulfillment and excitement that I can’t truly explain. Before this league, I really wasn’t fully happy. I feel like I wasted an opportunity by not going away to school and playing football in this league has given some of that back.”
Price hasn’t played since last August, and with being a father to twin 1-year-old boys, Liam and Logan, along with working in customs at Newark Airport, he didn’t think he would have the time to be able to play this season. With the A7 continuing to grow and gain exposure, he desperately wanted to continue to help raise the bar and continue returning the favor to a league that’s provided him so much joy.
Once his mom was able to take care the boys while he and their mother worked, he was thrilled that he would be able to get back to doing what he loves. This season, he’ll be doing it with the New Jersey B.I.C. who he led to a title in 2016 — after spending the last two seasons with the New Jersey Savage.
“I’m so excited,” Price said. “I’ve been in the gym a lot since the season is so close, watching a lot of film and getting to scrimmage some the last few weeks.”
His typical schedule sees him at work from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday. He’ll come home and spend time with his sons until they lay down to take a nap around 10 a.m. After an hour or so, they’re waking him up, and the next time he’ll find sleep is about three to four hours before he has to wake up for work.
With his mom now helping with his boys, he’s used Wednesday through Saturday to prep for the season with two-a-days. After getting home from work, he showers and heads right to his neighborhood Planet Fitness to work out. After that he’ll then either join his friends at the gym again or on the field in the late-afternoon for a second workout.
Before starting, Price usually stretches for 10 to 15 minutes before heading to the treadmill for some incline running to get his calve muscles stretched. Price says the league is all about endurance and stamina. At 5’8 and around 150 lbs., he relies on his speed and athleticism to get around guys. After the treadmill. He then puts his body through 30-minute circuit focusing on his legs, stomach, chest, and arms, doing four sets of 25 on each machine.
“Whenever I go to the gym, I like to max everything at 100 reps just to get an equal balance for my full body,” Price says. “After that, I’ll go lift, bench press. The steps are usually at the end and I like to end my workouts feeling sore. I’ll always finish with ladders and legs because I feel like my legs are most important because I scramble a lot.”
If Price makes it to the field later in the day, he runs some QB drills with guys to help with his timing and footwork. If he’s by himself, he’ll run to help build up his stamina and endurance, closing the workout with sprints from end zone to end zone until he’s ready to vomit.
Those hits you see in the highlights, hell yeah, they hurt. Price says he and the players have dubbed the day after games as “A7 Mondays,” because they’re all sore when having to head to work. Making recovery even more of a priority for him this season is the fact he’ll be working on Sunday’s, which is game days.
“That’s going to be interesting,” Price laughed. “The soreness is a combination of not being in shape like I should be and me needing to gain some weight and muscle mass to be able to sustain the hits. I honestly don’t feel I heal until Thursday. This year, I want to take the extra initiative to take an Epsom salt bath before work or make sure I have an Icy Hot patch on if my back is sore.”
It might sound crazy to most, but talk to any player from the league and you won’t hear any complaints. Price says he hasn’t seen anyone have a serious or significant injury even with no protective equipment on. He believes that by there being no equipment, and players still having to go to work the following day, they’re less likely to be reckless with their bodies — even if the highlights show otherwise.
So, continue to think these guys are crazy and cringe at the sheer volatility of the hits. But check out a game; see the camaraderie, hustle, and skill level that is on the field and you’ll see what’s at the essence of why any of us begin playing a particular sport. Then ask yourself: If you had the opportunity to relive the euphoria you got from competing at a high level, wouldn’t you do it?
You’ll then find that these guys aren’t that crazy at all.
“Even when I’m not playing, I’m home watching film or past games,” says Price. “This league is a significant part of my life now, and it means a lot to me. I’m just a normal guy who loves playing football.”