Moments after wide receiver Larry Brackins learned that he was being traded to the Orlando Predators, his phone rang.
He was greeted by an old friend.
"I wanted to be the first guy to talk to him," said Preds coach Rob Keefe, a former teammate of Brackins' with the Philadelphia Soul. "I normally let my general manager and director of personnel handle that, but when I know someone, I want them to feel comfortable with the situation."
Brackins has proved to be a valuable offensive asset since being acquired on April 22. Heading into the Predators' Arena Football League game against the San Antonio Talons at 8 Saturday night at the Alamodome, Brackins has caught 22 passes for 278 yards and eight touchdowns in five games with Orlando (6-5).
Keefe and Brackins played together on the ArenaBowl XXII champion Philadelphia Soul team in 2008. At practice, Keefe fought for a roster spot as a cornerback while defending Brackins.
"It was intense," Keefe said. "That's the way I think we both grew up, and that's the way it should be. Every day, you wanted to win and keep your job. It's a business, and you're only as good as your last day."
Off the field, they were close friends.
"Man, we did a lot," said Brackins, who is in his seventh arena-league season. "We went to Bon Jovi concerts, cookouts, just always hanging out. I'm a jokester so I'm always coming up with something to have fun with."
Known as "L. Boogie," Brackins brings production and a bit of comedy to a team.
"Boogie is the character in the locker room," former Soul and Preds coach Bret Munsey said. "He's very funny and helps keep everybody loose during the season. That's a big help."
Keefe began his coaching career in 2009 as an assistant with the Spokane Shock. He led that franchise to an ArenaBowl title the next season and is in his first season as the Preds' coach.
"Coach Keefe brings his energy every day to practice," quarterback Jason Boltus said. "We thrive off of that.''
Said Brackins, 31: "He was even more energetic as a player. He loved to practice, loved the game and was an awesome teammate."
Brackins should know, as should defensive back Eddie Moten.
Moten also was with the Soul in 2008 when they defeated the San Jose SaberCats 59-56 for the AFL championship in New Orleans. In that game, Brackins caught two touchdown passes, and Moten intercepted a pass.
Moten, 32, joined the Preds on Friday and could play Saturday night in San Antonio.
"We won a championship back in Philadelphia as teammates, and now it's time to go after another ring," Moten said.
Brackins said his relationship with Keefe has changed now that they aren't teammates.
"It's weird because we all, as players, have been through the struggle," Brackins said. "He knows that sometimes we don't want to practice, because he's been through what we're going through."
Said Keefe: "When you're both players, we're hanging out and having a good time and are on the same level. Now if anything, there's still a great line of communication, but Larry plays his role very well, and I play my role very well."
As both realize, those roles can change. Brackins said after his playing career, he plans to coach, too.
He has a good example to follow.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun