Michael Bangel has long been known as one of the best professional football players not wearing an NFL uniform. Through his 4 year career Michael has been known to not only deliver the big hits as a defensive back, but he also is an explosive kick returner and sure handed receiver. He is certainly a player that NFL scouts are on the lookout for and has been on their radar for a long time now. His professional experience has taken his from Japan to Panama and Spain and everywhere in between it seems. I had the chance to sit down with Michael in between one of his training sessions outside of Philadelphia and ask him a couple of questions about his upcoming arena season.
Having played in Japan and seeing the culture of their athletes, what will you take from that experience and bring with you to the Arena game?
“Playing in Japan was an amazing experience. Being in front of all of those fans reminded me of home. Japanese players take the game very seriously and play it with a lot of passion and respect. I learned to value the game and appreciate it. The fans over there are crazy about football and they really treat you like a hero. It’s great to see how other countries and cultures approach the game. It really humbles you and makes you respect and love it even more.”
How did playing overseas change your view on being a professional athlete?
“I learned to take my job and my body very seriously; overseas there is a lot of pressure because as a professional you are expected to perform every single play. I live for that pressure so for me it was very natural. I feel like I am one of the best defensive backs in the world and getting the opportunity to show it is a blessing. Once you get on the field though no matter where you are it’s still football. Off the field it’s a matter of staying humble and continuing to work hard and stay away from the distractions.”
It’s no secret that many teams, given your background with the indoor game and with other leagues, wanted to sign this off-season. What were a few key factors that help you make your decision?
“At this point in my career I am looking for an organization that is willing to do what it takes to win a championship. Coaching is a big part of any decision and I am on the same page with the coach is very important to me.”
What are you looking forward to the most about training camp?
“Just being around the guys, training camp is a grind but it’s where you build bonds with your team mates and find out what kind of team you are going to have. Also get to learn the area a little bit.”
What is the best part of being a professional athlete?
“Living out a dream I’ve had since I was a kid is a blessing and one that I couldn’t be more lucky or happy to be doing what I am doing.”
Which football players or other athletes did you admire as a kid?
“Jason Sehorn was my favorite player; as a defensive back I connected with him and was and still am a huge fan of his. My goal is to be the next Jason Sehorn.”
Favorite thing to do when not training for or playing football
“I love talking business and Philosophy, and if fans want to talk either of those subjects I will go on for days and days. I am also a big music and yoga fan. Yoga is a huge part of my daily life.
What are your career goals with football?
“Right now my main goal is to win a championship, plain and simple. I don’t think too much about things that are out of my control. Obviously the ultimate goal is to play in the NFL but I can’t control when I will get that opportunity, I can just be ready when it happens.”
What advice would you give to younger athletes?
“Be a leader, stand up for what’s right and always take pride in everything you do. Don’t settle for anything less than your best effort and you will be successful.
After getting to know Michael for a little while it quickly becomes obvious that this is a man destined for greatness. It won’t be long until you see him in an NFL uniform so be sure to stayed tuned.