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Former Navy QB Ricky Dobbs On Playing Flag Football, Running For President

July 3, 2018
Former Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs has re-entered the public spotlight while he plays in the American Flag Football League (AFFL). Dobbs is part of team Primetime and threw for four touchdowns June 30 during a 29-0 win against the Dallas Ducks to advance to the league's semifinals. With the win, Dobbs' team advanced to the semifinals in his home state of Georgia for another game that will be broadcast live nationally on NFL Network July 7.

Dobbs joined PressBox's Glenn Clark Radio July 3 for a Q&A about playing flag football, serving in the military and whether he still wants to be President one day. 

PressBox: How did you get involved with the AFFL?

Ricky Dobbs: It was a guy named Carter Jordan; I believe he worked in operations for the AFFL. He went to school or grew up with Chris Harris, I don't know if you remember him, but he played basketball at Navy. He hit Chris up and asked, "Hey, do you know anybody from Navy that might want to put a flag football team together to compete in this tournament?" And then Chris thought about me and Shun White, and he wanted me to put together a team. So originally I put together a team of all Navy football players, but due to operational commitments, a lot of them had to back out, so I had to find others. My original team, we actually did pretty good. We were driving the ball really well, we won our first game and we lost our second one in a nail-biter. But then I got picked up by this new team Primetime, and it's been history since then. 

PB: I'm sure you played plenty of recreational flag football in the past, but what is the transition like from being an actual football player to being a competitive flag football player?

RD: So the transition is not as easy as a lot of people would think. Playing pickup, intramural flag, yeah, it is [different] because everyone is not as athletic as you would see on this kind of level. Because I played when I was overseas in Bahrain I played in a flag league, when I was down in Virginia Beach I played in an intramural flag league with my ship and you could tell that the guys who played football before were like a cut above. But in this one, you have guys who have played flag for years and it's a whole different ballgame. Your athleticism doesn't transition over that well because you're not going to be tackling anybody or trying not to get tackled. So the big thing that happens there is the ability to pull someone's flag -- it's an art to that. And it's pretty amazing. 

PB: Is it tough to remember to not flag guard?

RD: Yes. That definitely was one major thing. I guess what helped me before this, I played in a flag football league up in Baltimore -- Baltimore Social. I was playing in that league and that kind of got me a little bit in the idea of not wanting to stiff-arm. Because that's the first instinct when someone is reaching to grab a flag or getting close, I want to stiff-arm them to get them out of the way. Luckily, I had that small little experience of playing in that Baltimore Social league; I played two years while I was working at the Naval Academy in the admissions office. 

PB: Is it nice to be able to show your arm off a little bit since everyone thinks of you as a run first quarterback from your time at Navy? 

RD: That's probably one of the highlights from being able to be in this tournament is to be able to showcase [my arm]. Because number one we didn't throw at Navy and just looking at me, two, some guys would probably be like, "His arms aren't that big so he can't make those NFL throws," but I have the opportunity to show I can throw with the best of them. 

PB: During your time at Navy you told me your goals were to reach the NFL or become the President. Are those still your goals? 

RD: Unfortunately, I've kind of drifted away from the NFL goal -- only because of where life in the Navy and just my general life has taken me. I'm not in the shape that I need to be. If they made a call right now I would definitely give it a shot, but I would be like, "Could you give me like a month to kind of get in the shape that I need to be in?" But I definitely my eyes set on the sights of running for President. That's definitely one of those long term goals. I continuously, every day I'm working on different things to help me progress to that. One of my teachers from the Academy, we called him "Captain Chaos," but his name was Captain Manville. He was one of the people there that kind of invested in my dream. He helped set up one of the one-on-one visits and sit-downs I had with former Secretary of State Robert Gates and he gave me a book of Shakespeare sonnets to practice my public speaking -- to read those out loud and giving me different books to read. I'm very appreciative of him for helping me in those lights. It's a thing that I'm definitely going to do, come 2040, is run for President. 

PB: Are you still serving active duty?

RD: I'm still in the Navy. I'm currently on active duty. I'm up here in Newport, Rhode Island, at the Naval War College taking a Maritime Staff Operators course before I get ready to go to Bahrain. 

PB: If you win your side of the bracket, you'll get to play against a team with a celebrity player like former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick or former Bengals receiver Chad Johnson. How great would it be to have a chance to go up against one of those guys on national TV?

RD: It's going to be a sight to see because if you've been paying attention to some of the stuff they have on the AFFL social media and stuff, they talk a lot of junk. Ochocinco had a quote on there where he said, "Even if God himself came down and put on some cleats, he couldn't even guard him.' So it's going to be a nice experience to kind of show them that no matter what you've done on an NFL field and on a regular football field -- because I was humbled myself to be able to step into their shoes -- it'll be good for them to get a taste of that medicine also.

For more from Ricky Dobbs, including what it means to him that Ken Niumatalolo has stayed at Navy and his reaction to the tragic shooting in Annapolis last week, listen to the full interview here. 

Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer/PressBox