Birmingham Iron quarterback Keith Price didn’t expect to be playing in the first quarter of their nationally televised Week Five matchup against the undefeated Orlando Apollos. Sure, Price earned some first-team reps in practice, but he didn’t expect to come into the game after just three offensive series. However, after incumbent starter Luis Perez threw a backbreaking pick-six, coach Tim Lewis called Price’s number and the Washington product answered the call.
While Price wasn’t able to erase that early 17-0 deficit, he managed to give Birmingham a spark of life, at one point reducing the deficit to just six points. Pulling off a comeback would have been an amazing feat, but the truly awe-inspiring story is that Price was in the game to begin with. The AAF is all about giving second chances to players chasing their dreams, and that message of persistence and willpower is perfectly personified in Birmingham’s new starting quarterback.
Keith Price, Perseverance Encapsulates What the AAF Is All About
In order to fully appreciate Price’s journey to the AAF, one must first look at how he got to the league in the first place. Price first appeared on the national radar as the Washington Huskies’ quarterback in the 2010 season. With soon-to-be first-round quarterback Jake Locker already entrenched as the starting quarterback, Price spent his freshman year riding the bench. Locker joined the NFL in 2011, leaving the starting job up for grabs. After competing with his fellow teammates, Price took firm command of the starting position for the next three seasons.
Price had enormous shoes to fill as a first-year starter in 2011. Even though Locker didn’t pan out in the National Football League, the eighth-overall pick in the 2011 draft was one of the best quarterbacks in school history. Despite the challenge of having to replace a school icon, Price managed to put together an impressive sophomore season. Appearing in 13 games, Price completed 66.9% of his passes for 3,063 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.
After a down year as a Junior, Price went out on a high note in his Senior season. Playing in 12 games, Price completed 66.2% of his passes for 2,966 yards, 21 touchdowns, and just six interceptions. The 6’1” quarterback led Washington to a bowl game in every season as a starter and finished his collegiate tenure completing 64% of his passes for 8,921 yards, 75 touchdowns, and 30 interceptions.
A Wandering Pro Career
Price’s impressive three years under center made him a fringe prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft. Despite not hearing his name called on draft day, the Seattle Seahawks quickly signed him as an undrafted free agent. However, Seattle soon moved on, releasing the Washington product midway through June.
With minimal NFL interest, a lot of players would have given up on their professional dreams. However, Price refused to quit, moving to the Canadian Football League to play with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Even north of the border, Price still couldn’t earn a start for over a season. He finally got his chance to shine late in 2015, completing 64% of his passes for 407 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception in three appearances. Despite these solid numbers, the Roughriders opted not to renew his contract at the end of the 2015 season.
Price earned one more chance in the Canadian Football League with the BC Lions. The Lions brought him on as a backup, and Price only threw one pass as a member of the Lions. BC released Price on June 10, 2017, and he never played another snap in the CFL.
Overlooked, Even in the AAF
The AAF is supposed to be a league of second chances made for players like Keith Price. However, Price had to defeat highly unfavorable odds to even make it on an AAF roster. The AAF had a four-round quarterback draft, allowing every team an equal shot at securing the most important position in the league.
32 quarterbacks were selected. None of them were Keith Price.
Price signed on with the Iron as the longest of longshots to even make the roster. When Price entered camp, Luis Perez, Blake Sims, Scott Tolzien, and Alek Torgersen were all above him on the depth chart. If Price was just as good as a guy like Torgersen, a tie would go to the player the team drafted. Price needed to come in and completely change the organization’s mind about his ability as a quarterback.
Lo and behold, he did it. Price not only made the final roster cuts, but he started the season as the primary backup to Luis Perez. With Perez struggling, Price finally earned his chance to play on the big stage in front of a national audience. He answered the call, putting up impressive numbers while throwing the Iron’s first touchdown pass of the season.
After years and years of perseverance, Keith Price is finally getting a chance he fought so hard to get. The Iron currently sit at 3-2 and need a minor miracle to catch the 5-0 Orlando Apollos in the standings.
The odds aren’t in Price’s favor, but that hasn’t stopped him yet.
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