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The OSC Interview: Nashville Venom WR Phillip Barnett

by Fran Stuchbury
August 13, 2014 - Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) - Nashville Venom

OSC Contributor Fran Stuchbury recently interviewed Nashville Venom wide receiver Phillip Barnett. Barnett helped lead the Venom to a championship in its first season in the Professional Indoor Football League. He caught 79 passes for 1,047 yards and 28 touchdowns which helped earn him PIFL Offensive Player of the Year honors. Barnett also spent time with the Cincinnati Commandos of the CIFL and UIFL and also with the Texas Revolution of the IFL.

Fran Stuchbury: . How big of an accomplishment was it for your team the Nashville Venom to win a championship in its first season in the PIFL when they defeated the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks 64-43?

Phillip Barnett: It was a huge accomplishment for us to win the championship our first year and it's a blessing to be a part of the only professional championship team in the amazing city of Nashville! But honestly that was our goal from day one, though. From the coaching staff all the way down to the players, that was our mind state. The first day of camp we came together like a family and everything else just fell into place

FS: How were you able to play during the playoffs with two fractures in your foot?

PB: The first game when I fractured my foot it wasn't too bad because my adrenaline was going so I was able to play through it. It happened at the beginning of the second quarter, and we didn't know it was fractured until that Monday after the game when I got my MRI. Now the championship game, that was a whole different story; that was tough, felt every pain of it the whole game. Warm ups of that game it was fine, and at least I could tolerate it, but once I took that first hit I knew I was in trouble. At that time I couldn't quit then so I took the decoy role and everyone else picked up their role and we pulled it out.

FS: How was playing with Venom wide receiver Jordan Jolley who also put up big receiving numbers during the season, 77 receptions for 1,107 yards and 19 touchdowns?

PB: Man, I love playing with Jolley! Teams can't game plan against us; you try to focus too much on one of us the other one will have the big game and Jolley is just full of energy. Man, he brings excitement to the team and I love it. But honestly our receiver corps from top to bottom could have started and produced highly. I would've hated to be the coach to make the decision for who's playing game in and game out because it wouldn't be easy.

FS: Was it difficult to build chemistry with the team having four quarterbacks who started games for the Venom?

PB: It was pretty easy getting chemistry with the quarterbacks we brought in. Like I said before, we had a family atmosphere with the Venom so when Alex Carder came in he was our guy. We (receivers and quarterbacks) put in a lot of work off the field so whenever one left another one came in, and we did the same exact thing. One thing coach Billy Back said and it's true: our team was like a remote control car. When one battery dies we put a new battery in and it runs just the same, and that's how we took it day in and day out with the quarterbacks.

FS: How did like playing for Venom head coach Billy Back, whom you have known and played with when he coached in other football leagues? When did you first meet him?

PB: Haha, it's always a good time with Coach Back, playing with him he's definitely going to push you to your limit to achieve greatness no matter what, and I've known coach back since I was like a freshman in high school, maybe even middle school. When he used to play Arena Football, he actually played with my brother and ever since then I've been like his little brother and we just became close. Then he ended up being my receivers coach my senior year in high school so he knows what I'm capable of, and he won't let me settle for anything less.

FS: How was your experience playing with the Cincinnati Commandos of the CIFL and UIFL where you won two championships and how was playing with the Texas Revolution of the IFL?

PB: Man, playing in Cincinnati was fun. Playing in front of your family and friends; there's nothing better than that. I'm actually from Middletown, 30 minutes from Cincinnati so being there was great and winning championships made it even better.

However, playing in Texas last year I loved the area of Allen, Texas but we hit a bump in the road. It was a shock to us because we were coming off of three championships, and I was part of two, in Cincinnati so when we had a losing season we definitely were not used to it. We finished the season 5-9, so that part wasn't fun, but it definitely showed our character. We never quit, just things didn't fall right for us there.

FS: Tim Tebow visited the Venom a couple of times, how was that? Also how was catching passes from him when the team practiced?

PB: I think we threw with Tim Tebow three or four times this year when he came into town; it was a great experience! Not many people had the opportunity to catch passes from Tebow. I actually hated Tebow in college, might have been because he was a Florida Gator, so if he had went anywhere else I probably would've liked him then. LOL, but he's an incredible guy. Man, he was a down to earth guy, hard-working and willing to teach

FS: Did you have any NFL wide receivers you looked up to when you were younger?

PB: I didn't really watch too much football when I was younger. I actually hated football. My favorite sport was basketball, but I did like Jerry Rice, Randy Moss and Cris Carter. Cris Carter actually went to my high school, and I broke his touchdown record there my senior year, but my favorite receivers now are Larry Fitzgerald, then AJ Green, close two, then Calvin "Megatron" Johnson.

FS: How much of an honor was it to be named PIFL Offensive Player of the Year?

PB: Winning the Offensive Player of the Year was a huge honor. This is my first time winning this for the whole league in all the leagues I've played in. It just shows how all of my hard work has paid off, but like I've said before, this maybe an individual award but I definitely didn't do this by myself.

I've been pushed by my coaches and all the hard work my teammates put in during practice makes me better. On offense it all starts up front giving the quarterback time to make the right reads. Our receivers were dominant; a team can't game plan for us because we have a plethora of weapons on offense. I wouldn't trade anybody on this team for anyone else

FS: How was your experience dealing with the Venom fans who attended games this season?

PB: Dealing with the Venom fans this year at first was shaky, just because I was expecting the fan base to be huge but then after we kept winning, more fans kept coming and the atmosphere started to get a bit crazy and I loved it. I know when our coach got thrown out of one game, the fans went crazy and I started to get chill bumps. It was one of the best moments of the year for me.

FS: If you don't move up to a higher football league next season, would you be happy to return to the Nashville Venom?

PB: Of course, if I'm not in a higher league I'll definitely be back in Nashville. I'm actually moving here so if I'm not playing for an Arena Football team or higher I'll be a Venom again.

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