YOU MIGHT expect as much being that he's paid to do it, but Troy Clardy arguably is the biggest Arena Football League fan in America.

Take last week, for example. After his regular midweek duties at ESPN — which include putting together the "Inside the AFL" podcast and writing a column for the AFL front page on espn.com — Clardy arrived home in New Britain, Conn., at 1:30 a.m. Friday and was on a flight to Salt Lake City 31/2 hours later.

Then, after working the SaberCats-Blaze game with Ted Robinson that night, he caught the first possible flight back to the East Coast in order to be in the ESPN studio watching — and taking notes on — various AFL telecasts Saturday night.

"There is nothing like going to a stadium, putting on the headsets and telling the story of the game," the 32-year-old Stanford graduate and former KNBR producer admitted. "All I've ever wanted to do in this business is get on a plane and call football games."

Clardy recalled some career highlights before tuning in the Philadelphia-Columbus battle Monday night.

On working at KZSU while at Stanford: "We went up to Oregon my junior year (1995). The Ducks were coming off a Rose Bowl year. We ended up walking out of there with a 28-21 win. Being a part of that plane flight home, that sealed the deal for me wanting to be in this business. I wanted to experience that feeling as many times as possible.


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On getting a job at KNBR: "I heard rumors about a new all-sports station. I knew it would be the new home for Stanford, so I put my foot in the door. They hired me to be the weekend producer at The Ticket-1050. Sure enough, they landed Stanford hoops that year, and I produced the pregame show."

On working with ESPN personalities: "You know them, you see them on TV. You think they're unapproachable. That couldn't be further from the truth. I work a lot with John Clayton. He is one of the nicest people I have come across in this business. How he finds the energy to do all the things he does. ... He's absolutely amazing,"

On the benefits of working at ESPN: "Any game that's on TV, I can watch it there. It really helps me with my AFL work. I can mark progress from week to week, rather than cling to things from a stat sheet. Football numbers lie. Your eyes tell you 100 percent of the story."