Former Indian Odie Armstrong captures elusive championship

Former Indian Odie Armstrong captures elusive championship

Odie Armstrong captures elusive championship
Adam Gore/

NEW ORLEANS, LA – One word best exemplifies Odie Armstrong's road to becoming a world champion.


That's what Armstrong said as he hugged his wife, Natalie, after the Arizona Rattlers defeated the Philadelphia Soul 72-54 to win the Arena Football League championship in Arena Bowl XXV.

It was a victory that erased years of heartache and frustration from missed championship opportunities in high school, college and a last-second loss to Jacksonville in last season's Arena Bowl.

"It feels amazing," Armstrong said. "This is something I've been chasing since I was at Vardaman but for some reason it just seemed like it wasn't meant to be. Now seeing this dream of being a champion finally become a reality… it's unreal. Words can't express how I feel and having my family here to experience this with me makes this moment even more special."

The former Vardaman running back rushed for seven yards and a touchdown on four carries while hauling in two passes for nine yards, but his biggest play of the night came on special teams when he recovered a kickoff that led to the game-clinching touchdown.

"I got a good jump on the guy trying to block me and once I saw the ball come off the iron I knew it was our chance to put the game away and I wanted to be the guy to make the play," said Armstrong.

"I'm proud of Odie," said Arizona QB and game MVP Nick Davila. "We are roommates on the road so it feels like we are family and knowing I've got a guy like Odie that has my back makes my job a lot easier."

The former Itawamba Community College standout is 11th amongst the AFL career rushers and is 33 yards away from becoming one of a handful of fullbacks to surpass the1000-yard career rushing mark.
He is 13th in AFL history with 255 career rushing attempts and 19th with his 3.8 yards per carry and 48 career rushing touchdowns.

For the second time in his career, Armstrong was selected to the All-Arena Team as a second team fullback this season and in 2010 as a member of the Tulsa Talons.

"Odie is a beast in all aspects of the game when he's on the field, but off the field you can't find a better friend, husband, dad and role model. He's truly one of the good guys of the game," said Davila.

"I've had a lot of love and support from family and friends back home in North Mississippi over the years," said Armstrong. "I want them to know they are a part of this. This championship is for everyone in Vardaman and at ICC because they helped make this dream a reality."

Armstrong plans to return to Phoenix to celebrate the championship with his teammates before spending the off-season with his family in Oklahoma and Mississippi.