CHICAGO – Continuing its countdown of the 25 Greatest Players in AFL History, the Silver Anniversary Committee has announced its selection for the 8th Greatest Player in AFL History: Clint Dolezel.
Dolezel was a two-time Second-Team All-Lone Star Conference selection in two seasons at East Texas State before joining the Milwaukee Mustangs of the AFL in 1995. He only played in three games as a rookie, but completed 10-of-12 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns. He saw limited time again with the team in 1996, propelling him to find greener pastures back home in Texas the following year.
In his lone season as quarterback of the Texas Terror in 1997, Dolezel became the first passer in AFL history to record a 400-yard game, as he notched 449 yards and nine touchdowns against the Iowa Barnstormers. In 1998, the Terror became the Houston Thunderbears and Dolezel remained with the team through the 1999 season. In his first season as a Thunderbear, he set an AFL record with 558 attempts and in 1999, he broke the League marks for completions and passing yards, with 374 and 4,336, respectively. He also set an AFL single-game records for completion percentage, completing 35-of-39 passes for a percentage of 89.7 against the Nashville Kats, and passing yards, finishing with 479 in a 1999 game against the Mustangs.
His numbers were enough to get him noticed by the Chicago Bears, who signed Dolezel in March of 2000. He spent training camp with the team but was released before the start of the regular season.
He returned to the AFL in 2001 better than ever, earning Second-Team All-Arena honors and leading the Grand Rapids Rampage to an ArenaBowl XV championship. His 574 attempts that year broke his own AFL record and his seven ArenaBowl touchdown passes tied the League record up to that point. He continued to produce for the Rampage over the next two seasons before joining the Las Vegas Gladiators in an offseason trade before the 2004 season.
Dolezel spent two seasons in Las Vegas before closing out his career with three more years in Texas, this time as the gunslinger for the Dallas Desperados. He was named First-Team All-Arena for the first and only time in his career in 2006 and became just the third quarterback in AFL history to pass for 700 touchdowns in a career. The following year, he became the first to reach 800 and, in 2008, the first to reach 900.
After 13 years in the League, Dolezel called it a career in 2008, having solidified himself as one of the all-time greats in the game. He is the only quarterback in League history to record six 400-yard games and three 11 touchdown performances in a career. He led the League in passing a record four times and ranks second in AFL history with 44,564 passing yards and 931 touchdowns and was named a finalist for the AFL Hall of Fame Class of 2012 earlier this year.
Upon retirement, Dolezel traded his helmet for a headset and was announced as the Offensive Coordinator of the af2’s Florida Firecats in 2009. The transition to coaching was not difficult for Dolezel, who called his own plays for nearly a decade in the AFL. In 2011, Dolezel made his head coaching debut, leading the AFL’s Dallas Vigilantes to a playoff berth. He joined the Philadelphia Soul as the team’s Offensive Coordinator before the 2012 season. Under his tutelage, the Soul scored more points through 16 games than any team in League history and became the first team to score 80 points four times in a season.
The League’s Silver Anniversary Committee will continue to countdown its list of the 25 Greatest Players in AFL History each week throughout the 2012 regular season, with the announcements of the Top 5 during the postseason.
25 Greatest Players in AFL History
8. Clint Dolezel
9. Sam Hernandez
10. Damian Harrell
11. Sylvester Bembery
12. Stevie Thomas
13. Kenny McEntyre
14. John Corker
15. Dwayne Dixon
16. Kurt Warner
17. Bob McMillen
18. Mark Grieb
19. Darryl Hammond
20. Alvin Rettig
21. Durwood Roquemore
22. Chris Jackson
23. Ben Bennett
24. Clevan Thomas
25. Gary Mullen