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Jordan McCray’s Journey to the USFL and a Week 1 Victory

Jordan McCray is a Spring Football Veteran. Having played in the AFL, AAF, XFL, IFL, and now he lands in the USFL. Jordan found victory in week 1 with the Stallions throwing the game winning block that opened a crease for J’Mar Smith with less than 30 seconds remaining.

Jordan McCray comes from a football family. So it’s not exactly a surprise to see him still playing professional football in what amounts to his ninth season. As one of the more veteran linemen in the league, McCray is no stranger to Spring Football. Having begun his career chasing dreams of playing in the NFL, he didn’t begin playing in alternative leagues until 2016. His third season.

Jordan McCray had stints with the Packers, Vikings, and Panthers in 2014, and 2015. The Panthers team, he was a part of before being cut in September, would go on to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl loss against Peyton Manning’s Broncos. Following his release by the Panthers, he and his brother returned to Florida. This time signing with the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League.

2015 August 28 | Friday Jordan McCray 62 G Carolina Panthers stands on the sideline before the National Football League NFL preseason game against the New England Patriots at Bank of American Stadium in Charlotte North Carolina New England won 17 16 Photo by David AllioIcon SportswireCorbisIcon Sportswire via Getty Images

There was a time when the Arena Football League was the premier league in the United States outside of the NFL. They began back in 1987 and ultimately met their demise in 2019 over 30 years later. In this league, there were few teams more prominent than the Orlando Predators at the time. When the McCray brothers signed with Orlando they were coming off of back-to-back seasons of 11 or more wins.

Jordan found a home in the Arena Football League for the next three seasons helping Orlando, and his brother win 12 games in 2016. In 2017 he would end up with Cleveland following the dispersion draft, and later Baltimore in 2018 to finish out his AFL career. The 2018 season pretty much marked the demise of the AFL. They played one more year in 2019 but had shrunk down to just four teams.

Many of their teams had left for greener pastures in the NAL or IFL. Jordan also went on to find greener pastures…or so he thought. He signed with the Orlando Apollos, and Steve Spurrier for the 2019 season of the Alliance of American Football. Returning to his home state of Florida once again. As we all know after 8 games the league folded, but it folded with the Apollos having already clinched a playoff berth leading the league with a 7-1 record. Once again Jordan had helped bring glory to a Florida team. This would not mark the last time he would do play in Florida.

ORLANDO FL FEBRUARY 23 Orlando Apollos center Jordan McCray 64 prior to the first half of an AAF game between Memphis Express and the Orlando Apollos on February 23 2019 at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando FL Photo by Roy K MillerIcon Sportswire via Getty Images

In late with the AAF no more, having been released by the Bears McCray was looking for another opportunity. That opportunity came to him in the form of the XFL. Again McCray would land in Florida this time being drafted by the Tampa Bay Vipers led by head coach Marc Trestman. Jordan had caught the eye of a very important coach on the staff before the draft. Offensive line coach Jonathan Himebauch.

Coach Himebauch had been the offensive line coach with the San Antonio Commanders during the AAF’s 2019 season. Himebauch had seen McCray up close when he coached against the Apollos in week 2, and he must have come away impressed. He helped facilitate the Vipers picking him in the draft.

Ultimately McCray and Himebauch would have to live through yet another league collapsing on them. This time it was due to the covid-19 pandemic. After just 5 games the world was flipped upside down and life changed as we knew it for everyone. Honestly, though players like McCray were affected in a huge way.

Having created momentum for himself in the AAF after a 7-1 team, he thought he had found a home. Then five games in the league shut down and almost immediately announces it will not return. Right around the same time, the CFL shuts down for the 2020 season. Leaving McCray with almost no options to finish out the 2020 season on a roster.

However, he wound bounce back in the 2021 season landing with the Massachusetts Pirates of the Indoor Football League. Massachusetts had been in the NAL in 2020 but moved up to the IFL in 2021. In 2021 he helped his team to the playoffs during a season that saw them score 88 offensive touchdowns and average over 40 points per game. Led by former XFL wide receiver Dontez Byrd, and offensive lineman Jordan McCray. The Pirates would capture the Championship in the 2021 season, capping a solid season by McCray.

Heading into 2022 the USFL had begun to take shape, announcements were coming out, albeit slowly. This league piqued the interest of many players in the IFL. It was a bigger stage than they had previously played in the IFL, it was also closer to NFL rules football. So with the deadline of February 22nd to sign with the USFL, McCray made a decision. He would pursue the USFL draft in 2022.

This decision ended up being a good one as he would go on to be selected, for the third time in his career, to help jumpstart a league that had not yet played a season. This time, his selection was again influenced by a familiar face. Coach Himebauch had landed as the offensive line coach for the Birmingham Stallions. He had helped convince head coach Skip Holtz that drafting McCray was a step to success.

To his credit, McCray quickly helped prove Himebauch right. In week 1 with 30 seconds left the Stallions were losing 24 to 21 but had the ball in the red zone. That’s when former Hamilton Tiger-Cat QB J’Mar Smith took the snap and began to scramble. McCray saw this and realized there was a crease near the goal line, that’s when he reacted quickly and led the way into the endzone with a devastating pancake block, 7 points on the board giving the Stallions a 4 point lead with less than 30 seconds to go.

On the following drive, the Stallions’ defense stepped up and stopped the Generals’ offense from moving the ball despite both of their quarterbacks finding success early in the game. This led to the Birmingham Stallions collecting their first victory in front of their home crowd. Around 18,000 screaming fans packed into Protective Stadium erupted the second the clock hit zeros and with that McCray had cemented himself into USFL history. Helping to win the first USFL game via an impressive 4th quarter comeback.

Congratulations Birmingham for your victory in week 1. Please Join Jordan and me to relive his career and this moment on 4/22/22 at 6:45 MT/8:45 ET.

Written by @SamShadySports, please check out my other content and sponsors at the links below. I produce content involving most teams, and several different leagues so stay tuned for the latest news about your team. Also I have teamed with Seat Geek to produce a $20 discount code. If you use the code SamShady at check out you will receive $20 off your next Purchase.

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