FRISCO, Texas — The Frisco Fighters are on a journey to an Indoor Football League championship. After clinching a playoff berth in their inaugural season and posting the third-best record in the IFL (10-3), the Fighters defeated the Spokane Shock 44-33 to advance to the semifinals. 

What You Need To Know

  • Malik Henry and Jerrod Heard are the quarterbacks for the Frisco Fighters

  • If their names sound familiar, it’s because they are. Jerrod played quarterback and wide receiver for the University of Texas. Malik Henry played quarterback for the Nevada Wolf Pack and also appeared on the Netflix show "Last Chance U" as the quarterback for Independence Community College

  • If the Arizona Rattlers defeat Sioux Falls Sunday evening, the Fighters will travel to Massachusetts to take on the Pirates next weekend

Part of the team’s success stems from the play of its two quarterbacks: Malik Henry and Jerrod Heard. Two high-profile names and two exceptional football talents. Out of high school, the two stars appeared to be on a clear path to Division I stardom. Their collegiate careers, however, did not meet the unrealistic expectations. But it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.

Five months ago, the spotlight was nonexistent for both players. With Malik fresh off a hamstring injury and Jerrod navigating his next steps after a short stint with the XFL, the two were in football limbo. 

“There was definitely a time where I was thinking there might not be no more football. Period,” said Jerrod.

But the indoor football league offered them both a lifeline in 2021 despite their limited grasp on the eight-man game.

“No, I didn’t know anything about arena football to be honest with you,” Malik admitted. “I knew there was a league. But never watched it too much.”

For those who do watch consistently, they know about Super Bowl champion and NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. In 1995, he got his start in arena football with the Iowa Barnstormers. Success stories like his offer hope to other players itching to get to the league. It’s a dream Malik and Jerrod share deeply.

“The dream never stopped for me. I always wanted to go to the NFL but you gotta have faith,” said Jerrod. “You gotta have faith in yourself and you gotta have faith in the game. The most important thing to know is that you’re going to have years when you're up and years when you're down."

It’s during those trying times when you learn the most. For Malik, the biggest lesson he recalls is to never let anyone choose his own destiny. He wants to stay true to who he is, which is clear if you ever see him take the field. 

“I’m a competitor. In better words, I want to kill you every game,” Malik said. “I want to eat your heart out, I want to take your soul, I want everything from you and I want to talk trash doing it.”

Jerrod, on the other hand, is the athlete. He is Frisco’s utility player who plays quarterback, running back and wide receiver. 

“So the crazy thing is I’ve only been playing football since middle school,” said Jerrod. “I was a basketball and track guy. My parents were like, you’re the fastest kid so we’re going to leave you on the track.”

It’s a good thing he tried out for football on his own, otherwise Malik would be down a weapon. 

“I love throwing to Jerrod. Honestly, he makes my reads a lot easier and he’s fast,” said Malikl. “He’s a burner. He’s a 4.3 guy."

But before Jerrod and Malik have an opportunity to play professionally outdoors, they have some business to take care of indoors first. If the Arizona Rattlers defeat Sioux Falls Sunday evening, the Fighters will travel to Massachusetts to take on the Pirates next weekend.