CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Who says that gridiron dreams belong only to the young, or that you can’t win a championship in your twenties, thirties, forties and beyond?
"I didn't play football until I was 35 years old when I came out with these guys," said Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Officer J.D. Williams.
He’s a member of the Charlotte Cobras. Thursday morning the team flew to New York to take on the NYPD in the National Public Safety League National Championship Game.
In football years, some members of the team might be ready for a rocking chair, but don’t let the gray whiskers fool you. The team has knocked the stuffing out of everyone they have faced this season.
"As a firefighter or police officer, you’re kind of a Type A personality anyway. This is just an opportunity to blow off some steam, and do something they all love doing," said Head Coach Eddie Levins.
He is also a deputy chief with CMPD. All the players are police officers, firefighters, deputies or other law enforcement professionals. The team has been around for eight years.
Stephen Graham was there at the beginning. The 47 year old plays defensive back.
“You get older, you don’t run like you used to. I used to be a tail back, but you got to let the young guys have that,” he said.
Central Division Officer Vinton Simpson was also there at the beginning. The 44 year old is excited about playing for his first championship.
“This has been a long time coming. We’re super psyched and we want to go up and represent Charlotte, and let them know Charlotte is here,” said Simpson.
The Cobras beat New York earlier this year, so this game could turn into a grudge match.
"They didn't like getting beat, but I think we've got something for them. They’re a very good team," said Levins.
And there is more than bragging rights at stake. All of the money raised goes to charity, so the players are helping both on and off the field.
"I think the job and what we do in this sport goes back to public safety, public service," said Williams.
The game will be played Saturday at 4 p.m. at Lindenhurst Middle School in Lindenhurst, New York.