The North American Football League sparked Mike Balogun’s career. More than five years later, his participation may snuff out his final season with Oklahoma.
Those outside of the league receive little exposure to the NAFL, one of the biggest semi-pro football leagues in the country. Robert Licopoli founded the league in 1999, with the objective of unifying groups of fragmented semi-pro leagues around the country. Licopoli had success doing so, but in the NAFL’s 11th season, over 60 semi-pro leagues still operate independently. Balogun played for the now-defunct Maryland Marauders of the NAFL, as well as the Prince George Jets of the Mason-Dixon Football League. Balogun also reportedly played for the D.C. Explosion, a still-active team in the NAFL, but Explosion owner Mike Martin told the Tulsa World that Balogun never suited up for the team. To participate in the NAFL, players must be at least 18 years old, and pay league dues. They must also provide their own helmet and pads. Players must have insurance and sign a team contract addressing liability issues. NAFL teams typically practice twice a week and play one game per week. Despite having nearly 100 teams, some teams, like Balogun’s Marauders, have proven unstable and ceased operations.