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Arena football

Cohen, Dell get to see other side

The Storm players left the Orlando Predators after last season with title chances in mind.

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 9, 2003

With two ArenaBowl appearances and one championship to his credit, veteran lineman BJ Cohen thought he had been reasonably successful in his four seasons with the Orlando Predators.

Then he looked at Storm coach Tim Marcum and realized he could aim higher.

"He's got six championships, I've got one," Cohen said. "If you can't beat him, join him."

He did, and brought a teammate along.

In moves that must equate to treason in the Arena league, Cohen and wide receiver/linebacker Clif Dell left the Predators in the offseason to join the rival Storm.

"It's strange as a coach to see guys like Clif Dell and BJ Cohen in Tampa Bay Storm uniforms," Orlando coach Fran Papasedero said. "That's the last thing I want to see."

Papasedero might want to shield his eyes today, as Cohen and Dell experience the series from the opposite perspective. The Storm plays the Predators at 3 p.m. today at TD Waterhouse Centre.

Dell and Cohen played key roles in Orlando's 2000 championship run and rank among the top 10 in many of the Predators' statistical categories.

Dell, who played in Orlando from 1999-2002, ranks fourth in receiving yards (2,139), fifth in all-purpose yards (2,586), receptions (163) and TD receptions (40), and sixth in points (272).

Cohen, a 2000 second-team All-Arena selection, is tied for fourth in fumble recoveries (four), fifth in sacks (12.5) and seventh in forced fumbles (four). He rejected an offer from his former team because he believed Tampa Bay gave him a better chance at a title.

"It's hard to go to a rival," Cohen said. "But if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it with the purpose of getting a ring, and we've got the guys here to get it done."

Dell left Orlando to be closer to his family. A Tampa native who played at Jesuit and King before going to South Florida, he commuted from Tampa to Orlando.

"I'm from Tampa, so starting off playing in Orlando was kind of strange," Dell said. "I was watching the Storm when I was growing up, so it was different."

Dell's transition was eased because he works out with quarterback John Kaleo and other Storm players in the offseason.

Cohen's acceptance was forged through competition.

"I feel like I've got a lot of respect for them, because we've had a lot of battles together," Cohen said.

Cohen earned the admiration of his teammates by making a tackle and recovering a loose ball off the net to set up a touchdown in a 60-20 win over Carolina in the opener. Dell also got into the act with three receptions for 33 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown.

Cohen and Dell played in two ArenaBowls with Orlando, losing to Albany in '99 and beating Nashville in 2000. They hope to help Marcum to his seventh title, his third with Tampa Bay.

"This is a good spot to be," Dell said.

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