The Balancing Act: Inside Max Seibald's Busy Summer

COURTESY OF AFFL

Max Seibald joined former NFL players for the American Flag Football League launch game this summer in San Jose.


Max Seibald, the former Tewaaraton Award winner and two-time Team USA player, had a busy summer of 2017.

He entered the summer as a member of the MLL’s Boston Cannons, but tackled much more than that commitment along the way.

In the midst of his Cannons season,Seibald got a call from American Flag Football League founder Jeff Lewis, who was familiar with Seibald and had watched him conduct a mock NFL combine for Inside Lacrosse in 2011. Lewis asked him if he’d like to compete in the AFFL’s launch game in San Jose in June,alongside a few former NFL players, and he agreed.

Later in the summer, after a Sunday MLL game with the Cannons, he flew to Israel on a Monday, tried out for the Israeli national team Tuesday and flew back for a Thursday game.

Seibald shared his thoughts on a crazy summer and what it means to be a part of Israel Lacrosse.

How did you get involved with the AFFL?

“The initial contact I got from Jeff, the founder. His son plays lacrosse and I had at some point coached his son. Years back, I was on the cover of Inside Lacrosse and they did a story on me doing the NFL Combine. They did a video of the combine and how I would stack up in an actual NFL Combine. One of the other parents knew what Jeff was doing and asked if he had every seen that and he reached out to me after he watched the video. He said ‘Is this something you’re interested in?’ And I said ‘How could I not be?’ I grew up playing a little bit in high school and played a lot of two-hand touch and flag. When he drops names like Terrell Owens, it’s like how do you say no? That was a no-brainer.”

How was the AFFL Launch Game experience?

“I flew out to San Jose and I was there with some of those guys. I was the only non-football guy there, which was a unique experience. Most of the guys knew of each other. I don’t think anyone knew who I was. Most of them didn’t know what lacrosse was. It was a cool experience for me to just sit in the locker room next to Chad Ochocinco and Justin Forsett and across from Michael Vick. I was playing in the back with Nick Collins. I watched these guys play and to be on the same field as them and to communicate with them during a play and high-five them, and to also not feel out of place was a really cool experience. … The first day we had a scrimmage that wasn’t open to the public, but it was competitive because there was money on the line. When the real show happened on the following night, everyone was competing for the right to win. None of these guys lost their competitive edge. Some are still in incredible shape. There were multiple Hall of Famers on that field. This league is going to blow up and they are getting way more people involved. It’s going to be something special.”







What did you say to your teammates?

“So there were multiple conversations. First is the introduction, and some guys, based on the conversations that I had, just thought I played linebacker in college. They didn't know who I was and that was the rumor going around. Eventually, people heard that I was a lacrosse player and someone told me they overheard Terrell Owens, even on the filming of the game, it was televised, he was like ‘Let’s go against him. The lacrosse kid is covering me, throw me the ball.’ That type of banter. On the flip side, there were some guys that were intrigued by my story. They asked what my background was. I told them I played pro lacrosse. They said ‘Do you have any experience playing football?’ I said I played in high school. Sometimes I had to pump my own tires a bit and say ‘I won the Heisman of lacrosse.’ That actually got some respect from some of the other guys.”

Did any of your teammtes have a connection to lacrosse?

“Justin Forsett had an interest in lacrosse. He had a mutual friend. He actually knew Paul Rabil. He did Paul Rabil’s podcast and he went to college in Berkeley with one of my good friends. He came up to me and wanted to take a picture with me so he could send to his buddy. It was a weird feeling of having that happen. On the flip side, I’m going up to Vick and taking a picture with all the other guys. It was definitely a really quick experience and awesome experience.”

Did they help you learn the terminology?

“They were great. They brought me in and taught me terms. When we broke up into teams, it was very informal and I didn’t where to go. It was just assumed I would be on defense and everyone went where they were supposed to. I was just standing in the middle of the field and someone looked at me and they were like ‘You’re mike.’ I said ‘No, I’m Max.’ They said ‘No, you’re mike linebacker.’ They obviously realized really quickly that they were going to use some real basic terms to tell me where to go.

How did you get involved with Team Israel?

“I’ve been involved with Israel Lacrosse since it’s inception. For me, being a Jewish athlete and that being a part of my life and Israel with that obvious connection, it’s always been something I wanted to get involved with. In previous years, Team USA was my priority. Growing up, that was my dream and I got to do that in 2010 and 2014. Going into this year, the past two years, I had no intention of playing the Worlds again. It was something I just didn’t have the mental capacity to do. I’m also not sure if I’m going to be playing MLL lacrosse this coming summer. I still haven't made up my mind on that. Israel had been reaching out for a while. Last year, I went to Israel as part of a service trip over the winter. You get to see all the amazing places in Israel. I got to do all the touristy things and see the beautiful places firsthand. … It really added value in being part of the Jewish community. Experiencing Israel as a Jewish person or non-Jewish person, it’s really special. That experience had an impact on me. Once the world games had been switched from Manchester, which I had already done in 2010, to Israel, it was a no-brainer to get another opportunity to get to that country and to play and represent that Israel flag and Star of David. My grandparents met and got married in Netanya and lived there for five years.”

What does it mean to be a part of Team Israel?

“It’s a real special opportunity for me. It’s almost like the stars have aligned. I know I’m at the tail end of my career if not the end of my career and to play for Team Israel in Israel and be a part of the group hoping to grow the game, it’s a great little way to part with the game as I’ve formally been a part of it.”

How have you interacted with Team Israel teammates and officials?

“I’ve been involved previous to making the team. I’ve done clinics for them and did the service trip last winter. I got to know a lot of the people that not only played for the team, but worked in the organization. Those relationships are great because we share a lot of the same passions about the game and Israel and our religion. I was floored to see what they do on a day-to-day basis to grow the game within that country. Out there, they are busing kids to the practices. These kids love this game and they’re doing whatever they can to get on the field, get them the proper gear and coaching. It’s a full-time job for those guys and I started to build those relationships. I don’t know what their reaction was when I decided to play for Israel Lacrosse. There were a couple guys that reached out to say they were happy I was on board. … Just last week, I had the chance to meet with the coach and a couple players in New York City. It’s a great group of guys.”

Do you think the World Championships will have a strong local following?

“The vibe that I get is that there is going to be a lot of local interest. They had the Maccabi Games there, a few weeks prior to when I went for tryouts. It’s one of the biggest international sporting events in the world outside of the Olympics. They really come together for these types of events and I think lacrosse is starting to make a little bit of a statement in Israel. The game has evolved in a number of areas in the country. There will be some interest. The government has supported it and they’re excited.”

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