The relationship between Richard Muldrow and Wayne Tribue first started when they were children.
"His grandmother (Mary Tribue) was on the York City School Board," Muldrow recalled in a recent conversation. "I was a kid. I would go to York High games. His (Tribue's) parents would be there."
A year apart in the classroom, the two football linemen later faced each other on the high school gridiron. In Muldrow's senior year at York High, his Bearcats beat Tribue's Central York team in overtime, 20-17, back on Sept. 22, 2006.
"That's the only time we faced each other," Muldrow said. "We went our separate ways in college."
Muldrow graduated from York High in 2007 and left for Rutgers University. Tribue graduated from Central York in 2008 and went on to play football at Temple.
The pair wouldn't connect again until 2012, when both players were preparing for the NFL Draft. Muldrow redshirted his freshman year at Rutgers, later transferred to Richmond and finished up playing college ball at the same time as Tribue.
"In 2012 when we were getting ready for the draft we ended up training at the same facility," Muldrow said. "Even last year when he (Tribue) was bouncing around teams, when he was home (in York) we would go to L.A. Fitness together and lift. And then go to a field at York Suburban, Central or York High and do lineman drills together."
Nearly eight years in the making, Tribue finally got a chance to avenge that loss to York High when he and Muldrow squared off last month inside the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Well, the 300-plus pounders didn't exactly go head-to-head like they did in high school, when the pair of linemen played both offense and defense.
Instead, they were both starting on the offensive line in the Arena Football League, Muldrow for the New Orleans Voodoo and Tribue for the Philadelphia Soul. The Soul controlled the action throughout and won, 79-60, on May 10. Both teams are struggling overall. Philadelphia is 6-7, while New Orleans is 2-10.
Currently playing in their first seasons in the AFL, Muldrow and Tribue are there to do more than just win football games, though. And it's not to make money — Muldrow says players are paid just enough to pay the bills and can eat for free at certain restaurants that sponsor the team.
"It's good for you if you're single. I'm 25. I'm down here to get film. If you shine bright enough on film you'll get a chance," said Muldrow, referring to his hopes of performing well enough in the AFL to get picked up by a team in the National Football League or Canadian Football League. "A lot of us have gotten called up from the AFL. That's the reason I'm down here."
The most notable players to have come out of the AFL are quarterbacks Tommy Maddox and Kurt Warner and kicker Mike Vanderjagt. Plenty of former NFL players have finished their careers in the AFL, too.
"There's some good players here. A lot of people here have been in NFL camps. Some defensive linemen I've faced have had a cup of coffee (in the NFL)," said Muldrow, who is a distant cousin of former York High standout and current New York Giants lineman Will Beatty. Dover grad John Kuhn (Green Bay Packers) and Beatty are the only two York County natives currently signed to NFL contracts.
Both Muldrow and Tribue went undrafted in 2012. Later that year, Muldrow was unsuccessful nailing down a roster spot in an invite to the Oakland Raiders' three-day rookie mini-camp and a one-day tryout for the New England Patriots. The 6-foot, 7-inch lineman spent the rest of the year on the practice roster of the CFL's Calgary Stampeders.
In 2013, Muldrow lived with his parents in York while keeping busy by exercising just about every day and working part-time at the Target store in Springettsbury Township. He also served as York High's offensive line coach last fall.
Tribue, who is listed by the Soul as 6-foot-3 and weighing 330 pounds, saw action on practice squads of the NFL's Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers the last two seasons before landing in the AFL.
The remainder of the regular-season AFL schedule runs through the final week of July. A week later, preseason practice begins in the NFL.
"Ultimately I'm gonna send my film (to NFL teams). Whoever needs an offensive lineman," Muldrow said. "I just hope and pray somebody will give me a shot to come to camp."
— Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.