Top 25 players in AFL history: #7 Sherdrick Bonner
Thursday July 12, 2012
CHICAGO – Continuing its countdown of the 25 Greatest Players in AFL History, the Silver Anniversary Committee has announced its selection for the 7th Greatest Player in AFL History: Sherdrick Bonner.
A four-sport letterman at Cal State-Northridge, Bonner led the Matadors to the 1990 Western Football Conference co-championship and the program’s only postseason appearance. For some time, it appeared his collegiate achievements would be the extent of his athletic career. Bonner tried his hand in administration, serving as an assistant athletics director at a local athletic club. However, an open tryout for the Arena Football League’s Arizona Rattlers in 1993 would change it all.
The southpaw quarterback saw limited action as a rookie, attempting just five passes all season. The following season, however, Bonner would lead the Rattlers to their first ever ArenaBowl championship in ArenaBowl VIII against the Orlando Predators. With 31 seconds to play, Bonner hit Calvin Schexnayder for a game-winning 24-yard touchdown. He finished the game 25-of-38 for 267 yards and three touchdowns, earning ArenaBowl MVP honors for his efforts.
“When we defeated Orlando, on their field, it was probably the greatest feeling I’ve ever had,” Bonner said of the accomplishment.
Once established as a starter in the League, the accolades began to roll in for Bonner, who was aided by one of the most talented receiving corps in AFL history. With Schexnayder, Randy Gatewood and Hunkie Cooper on the field, Bonner had his choice to top-notch wideouts.
In 1997, he was named Second-Team All-Arena and appeared to be on his way to another ArenaBowl. Then, Bonner suffered a broken leg in the team’s semifinal victory over the Tampa Bay Storm. Rookie quarterback Donnie Davis took over the quarterbacking duties for the championship game, leading the Rattlers to a 55-33 win over Kurt Warner and the Iowa Barnstormers in ArenaBowl XI.
Missing the championship game motivated Bonner to come back better than ever in 1998. He passed for 3,571 yards and 70 touchdowns in his return from injury, earning First-Team All-Arena honors and the attention of NFL scouts. The Atlanta Falcons signed Bonner to the practice squad, where he remained during the team’s run to Super Bowl XXXIII. The following year, Bonner spent time with both the Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers.
Bonner returned to the Rattlers in 2000 and remained with the team through the 2007 season. He was named Second-Team All-Arena in 2000 and 2002 and First-Team All-Arena in 2003 after passing 3,696 yards and a career-high 89 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He earned his 100th career win on April 7, 2006 over the Utah Blaze and became the third quarterback to reach 800 career passing touchdowns on April 28, 2007 against the New York Dragons.
After 14 seasons in Arizona, Bonner was released by the team in late 2007. Former Tampa Bay Storm Ironman Lawrence Samuels is the only player in AFL history to spend more seasons with one team (15) than Bonner.
Bonner would spend one year with the Chicago Rush, but retired following the 2008 season. He still holds AFL postseason records for passes attempted (882), passes completed (540), passing yards (6,761) and touchdown passes (127), as well as the ArenaBowl records for attempts (143) and completions (81). In 2006, the AFL Historical Committee selected Bonner as the 8th Greatest Player in AFL History, while the Silver Anniversary Committee named him the Greatest Quarterback in AFL History in 2012.
Bonner, along with former teammate Randy Gatewood, was named a finalist for the 2012 AFL Hall of Fame class in June. The 2012 inductees will be announced at AVITAE ArenaBowl XXV in New Orleans on August 10, with the induction ceremony taking place during Kickoff Weekend for the 2013 AFL season.
The League’s Silver Anniversary Committee will continue to countdown its list of the 25 Greatest Players in AFL History each week throughout the 2012 regular season, with the announcements of the Top 5 during the postseason.
25 Greatest Players in AFL History
7. Sherdrick Bonner
8. Clint Dolezel
9. Sam Hernandez
10. Damian Harrell
11. Sylvester Bembery
12. Stevie Thomas
13. Kenny McEntyre
14. John Corker
15. Dwayne Dixon
16. Kurt Warner
17. Bob McMillen
18. Mark Grieb
19. Darryl Hammond
20. Alvin Rettig
21. Durwood Roquemore
22. Chris Jackson
23. Ben Bennett
24. Clevan Thomas
25. Gary Mullen