ORLANDO, Florida - Kyle Farnsworth approaches every snap like it could be his last.
- Farnsworth spent more than 15 years playing professional baseball
- The reliever played for the Rays from 2011-2013
- Joined the Orlando Phantoms in 2014
“I’ve always had that fire and intensity," he said at an Orlando Phantoms practice last week. "It’s either 100 percent or nothing. That’s the way I think sports should be played.”
It's how he's approached football since he first tried out for the semi-pro team back in 2014. There, he made the squad, and would go on to lead the Phantoms in sacks with 11. That shouldn't be surprising for a former professional athlete.
If only his teammates knew that.
“He was just an old guy," defensive lineman David "Big D" Roberts said. "He was just an old guy on the team when we saw him, and once I was informed of who he was, it was a shock.”
That's because this Kyle Farnsworth is the same that played Major League Baseball for 16 seasons, which included a stop in Tampa. But upon trying out for the team, Farnsworth kept his past close to the chest.
“I had a player that played baseball. And he said, 'hey man, I think that’s Kyle farnsworth.' I said, 'who’s Kyle Farnsworth?" team owner Michael Torres said. "He says, 'no,' pulls out his phone, I look at the phone, I say, 'hey man, that’s Kyle Farnsworth.”
So after a successful career as a reliever, what made him want to pursue playing football?
“I don’t want to look back at my life and wish I would do something, or wish I would have attempted to do this," he said. "Just go out there and have fun and enjoy my life."
And his teammates are impressed with his demeanor.
“He’s so quiet. So meek. He’s very humble. But when he’s on the field, it’s go time. It’s go time," Roberts said.
“He shows them how you’re supposed to carry yourself," Torres said. "Whether in good time or bad times, he tore his knee.”
It happened in a routine drill last year, as Farnsworth suffered a non-contact hyperextension that resulted in two torn ligaments and two partially torn ligaments. It put him on the sideline for the year.
“No one’s going to feel sorry for me. You can’t just sit there and complain. So you just gotta keep working," Farnsworth said. "I’m out here running around again and enjoying life.”
So now he's back, in what he claims will be his last year. But why put his body on the line one more time? It's simple: the fire still burns.
“Kyle is the kind of guy that wants to go out on his terms, and not nobody else’s,” Torres said.
“You just have the mindset of you just gotta fight through it," Farnsworth said. "Some things may take longer than others. It’s like a life lesson. Bad things are going to come, and good things are going to come. You gotta take the good with the bad, and you just gotta keep moving forward.”