L.A. Avengers sign AFL veteran Ben Bronson
LOS ANGELES -- Ben Bronson, a proven Arena Football League offensive specialist and kick returner, has signed a two-year free agent contract with the Los Angeles Avengers, head coach Ed Hodgkiss announced today.
Bronson (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) has played in five previous AFL seasons, compiling a total of 279 receptions for 3,550 yards and 49 touchdowns. He also has 2,666 return yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns in his career.
"Ben's a guy that we've all known about in this league for the past several years," said Hodgkiss, who has led the Avengers to the playoffs in each of his three years at the helm. "He has been a very productive offensive specialist in the AFL and has a great deal of experience. We're looking at Ben at the offensive specialist spot as well as wide receiver/linebacker."
The Avengers also announced that offensive/defensive linemen Chris Butterfield and Carlos Fowler, and wide receiver/linebacker Scott Thomas have been placed on the "refused to report" list. All three are expected to announce their retirement from the AFL in the near future. Butterfield and Fowler each played four seasons with the Avengers.
"Chris Butterfield and Carlos Fowler were here before I got here and they have been the heart of the foundation that has helped bring the program to where it is now," Hodgkiss said. "They are going to be missed and we wish them well in their life after football. They were both star linemen in this league and had fantastic careers."
Bronson is one of 37 players currently involved in training camp, which continues through Jan. 22, at the newly renovated Avenger Training Facility at West Los Angeles College.
The 2005 season kicks off on Jan. 30, as the Avengers head to Las Vegas for a Western Division showdown with the Gladiators at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Avengers will play their home opener versus the Georgia Force at STAPLES Center on Feb. 4.
Bronson sat out the 2004 AFL season while serving as a stunt double in "Friday Night Lights" and "The Longest Yard." In 2003, he had 27 receptions for 213 yards and a touchdown for the Carolina Cobras. He also returned 18 kickoffs for 298 yards. Bronson participated in training camp with the Dallas Desperados in 2002.
He spent his first four seasons in the league with the Houston ThunderBears. Bronson broke his right leg (tibia and fibula) on May 18, 2001, in a game at Buffalo, ending his 2001 campaign after catching 26 passes for 415 yards and six touchdowns. Following the 2000 season, he was named the AFL's "Breakout Player of the Year," after setting a pair of ThunderBear franchise records with 112 receptions (third in the AFL) for 1,494 yards (second in the AFL). Bronson also scored 22 touchdowns and had 59 kickoff returns for 1,072 yards.
On June 30, 2000, he caught a career-high 17 receptions at Carolina. In 1999, he had 69 receptions for 848 yards and 13 scores, and also finished with 628 yards on 41 kickoff returns. As an AFL rookie in 1998, Bronson caught 45 passes for 580 yards and eight touchdowns.
Bronson returned 13 punts for 79 yards and one kickoff for 31 yards for the Indianapolis Colts in 1995. He also was on the Detroit Lions' practice squad in 1996 and 1997.
Bronson concluded his collegiate career at Baylor University in 1994, after leading the Bears with 33 catches for 571 yards. He also averaged 26.1 yards per kickoff return and had a 98-yarder for a touchdown versus USC at the Coliseum. Bronson earned All-Southwest Conference honors in both football and baseball at Baylor. He hit .329 (third on the team) as a centerfielder during his senior season. Bronson attended Tyler (Texas) Junior College for two years before transferring to Baylor.
Bronson attended Jasper (Texas) High School, where he was an All-District, All-State and All-America selection as a baseball player. He also was a member of the Bulldog track & field team.
Born on Sept. 9, 1972, Bronson was an outfielder in the Kansas City Royals' farm system in 1996 and 1997. His twin brother, Bryan, was a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic track & field team and a three-time U.S. champion in the 400-meter high hurdles (1996-98).
The Avengers went 9-7 last season and qualified for the ArenaBowl Playoffs for the third consecutive year. Los Angeles led the AFL in scoring (56.5 points per game) and averaged 12,590 fans at STAPLES Center for eight home games.
Nine-game season ticket packages, which start at $94.50, are on sale now at 1-888-AVENGERS or online at www.laavengers.com. Single-game tickets may be purchased at the STAPLES Center box office, at all Ticketmaster locations, on-line at www.ticketmaster.com and by calling 213-480-3232.
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