Saturday, July 02, 2005



 In football they call the line of scrimmage “The Trenches”.  A fitting name considering that the combined weight of the athletes that make up the offensive and defensive lines are on average over 3,000 lbs.  Take into account that on every play they line up less than a yard apart and smash their bodies into one another just to get up and do it again for another 60 minutes.  That punishment takes its toll on a player for a game let alone a complete season.  Add to that the playoffs and a possible national tournament invite and you can begin to see this is no easy task for anyone. 

                Sal Iavarone knows those “Trenches” well.  He is far too familiar with the pain and punishment they dole out every Saturday and the dedication it takes just to make it through the season.  See, Sal plays offensive line for the Albany Metro-Mallers.  That title in itself is nothing astonishing given that 10 others lay claim to that job as well.  However, what sets Sal apart is that a few weeks ago on a humid June night in Kingston, Sal began his 26th Season.  The fact that the average pro career is 6 or 7 yrs leaves few words to accurately describe or even give homage to such an unprecedented career. 

                He began his career with the Mallers in 1980 when his high school football coach, who also moonlighted as the Mallers Offensive Coordinator, asked Sal to come out and play with the team after he had graduated from Mechanicville High School.  Sal took him up on the offer and the rest is the stuff of Maller lore.  Over the past 25 yrs Sal has never missed a practice or a game to injury, work, or other commitments.  That’s over 400 games, 1500 practices, and 23,400 minutes of battling in the trenches.  If that isn’t enough to create a legend add to that the fact that for 10 yrs of his career Sal played both offensive and defensive line.

                Sal is the essence of what is good about the game.  He plays not for the financial reward or the notoriety that sports bring.  He has never been paid a dime nor is he known outside the realm of Semi-Pro football for his accomplishments.  But within the Semi-Pro community he is held with such high esteem and regard that the mere mention of his name will bring up old memories of former players and championship teams of years past.  After 25 yrs, 4 league titles, 1 national championship and enough personal accolades to fill up every room in his house, many would wonder why he continues to play.  And when those playing days are over and the inevitable enshrinement into the Semi-Pro Hall of Fame becomes his final reward, Sal will accept that honor with class and humility.  For he never played football for the riches in life but rather for the enrichment of his.        

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