The Massachusetts Pirates have re-signed offensive lineman Thomas Claiborne for the 2019 season. Claiborne, 6’3,” 330 lb. from Randolph, MA was a force on the offensive front that yielded the fewest sacks in the league while powering the Pirates to a league best 123 touchdowns in 2018.
“We have some unfinished business,” Claiborne said. “It means a lot to be the hometown kid and be able to sign back with the team again and this year. We have high hopes of finishing where we left off, getting back to where we were and play the same caliber of football,” he added.
After playing for Boston College, Claiborne signed as an undrafted free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2011. That led to stops in the Arena Football League with Milwaukee in 2012 and Jacksonville the following season. At one point it looked like his playing days were behind him.
“Once I had my daughter I stepped away for about two years and at that time I was dealing with some injuries. I was able to rehab but was not sure if I was going to come back. Jawad (Pirates President Jawad Yatim) believed in me and my ability. We were able to sit down, put our heads together and I’m back in action and it feels great.”
Yatim is happy to have Claiborne back on board with the Pirates.
"Thomas came in last season as one of our local veterans and was great for our organization on and off the field. He was one of the anchors of an offensive line last year that gave up the least amount of sacks in the league. He brings a lot of energy and it's infectious, especially when things might not be going the way we want at particular times. He's fundamentally sound, and even though he's a veteran you can still see all the great coaching he had while at "O-Line U" which is Boston College. He has good size which is a trait that is emphasized in arena football as 90% of the game is pass blocking and being able to absorb pass rushers and hold your ground. He’s another great local talent for us and we are glad to have the big guy back,” he said.
Claiborne helped the Pirates offense gain the most yards in National Arena League with 4,013 and to become the number one passing offense with 3,677 yards and 229.8 yards per game. Playing close to home has been special for the Wellesley High School product for several reasons.
“I have a family and a beautiful fiancée at home, great kids and another baby on the way in February so it means a lot to be at home and to have the support of my family. I know some guys leave and head out of state away from their families, so for me it’s a blessing for me to be around my family and have that support while I’m still doing what I love to do,” he said.
It also allows him to continue his education at UMass, Boston in an on line program that is suitable to his schedule and career path.
“I’m in grad school and getting my master’s in education to become a guidance counselor,” he said.“ I still have that option and don’t have to put that away because of football because one day football is going to be all said and done,” he said.
Claiborne is eager to graduate this May, start another season of with the Pirates and to continue to help lead the next generation of those who will make a difference.
“This was the reason I went back (to school) because of the journey I was able to have. I was an urban kid who went to a suburban school. I had that blessing and it’s awesome to be able to give back and share. The kids are all excited about me playing again. It’s good to be an inspiration and a positive light to these kids who can see that what they are going through in high school will fade away. Everyone had those same struggles of being a young adolescent male or female in America and there are still opportunities out there if you apply yourself and keep moving forward. I want to give that (perspective) back to the students that I work with. I want them to understand the sky’s the limit. Whatever they want to do or choose to do they can get it done.”
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. Pirate Nation Season Ticket Memberships for the 2019 season will be on sale in September. Pirate Nation Memberships start as low as $199.00. To become a Pirate Nation Season Ticket member or for more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single game tickets are available online at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For group outings please call Tim Parker at 508-452-MASS (6277) or email email@example.com. Follow the Pirates on facebook at facebook.com/MAPirates on Instagram @mass.pirates, as well as Twitter @mass_pirates.