06/05/2019 11:48 AM
On Monday, June 3rd , Carolina Cobras staff, players and fans were saddened to hear thenews about the passing of our Vice President of Player Personnel, Clayton Banner. As an integral part of this organization, as well as football for decades both indoor and outdoor, this was Banner’s first season with the team. However, he had been a long-time friend, mentor, and colleague to many in the organization such as Head Coach Billy Back, Defensive Coordinator Josh Resignalo, and Vice President of Business Operations Brian Schmidt.
Knowing Coach Resignalo since 2008, Banner had a profound effect in Resignalo’s life. Resignalo stated that he “wouldn’t be in the spot he is today if it wasn’t for [Banner]”. Through playing arena football, and going into coaching, Banner played a huge role in Resignalo’s life, as well as many other’s lives. He had a network that spanned the globe, evaluating talent across the United States, and in Canada and Europe as well. One of Coach Back’s favorite memories of Banner was when they were in Florida together and Banner ate the head of a crawfish, after Resignalo wouldn’t eat it. He said that Banner had to “show him how a real crawfish-eater eats”
Brian Schmidt who has been close with Banner ever since he started coaching in arena football, first got to know Banner after they held a joint tryout together while coaching in Northern Kentucky. Schmidt says that he will always remember Banner as “an upbeat, positive person, and a person who helped so many people with their careers. In a Facebook post Schmidt said “Man I remember our first tryout together in Northern Kentucky. Since then you’ve always been a true friend. Not goodbye but see you later. RIP” Most recently before Banner became a part of the Cobras, he worked with the Columbus Lions where he helped them win several championships. However, being with the Cobras was a very exciting time for Banner, because for the first time ever, he would be working with Back, Resignalo, and Schmidt all together
Banner not only touched lives in the Cobra’s front office and coaches, but he also touched the lives of fans. In a phone interview with Lions Superfan Don Levet and he shared a very touching story of his trip to Greensboro for the NAL Championship game last year. He said that Banner insisted in taking him to breakfast at the Moose Café, and insisted he try their biscuits, then when it came time to pay for the check, he wouldn’t let Don pay. Afterwards, he asked Don if he had tickets the game, and made sure he not only had them but after the game he took Don out to his car and offered him some shirts, including the shirt from the Championship game that he wore.
Banner’s entire life was dedicated to football. From playing football at Catawba College, and having stints in the CFL, AFL, and NFL, Banner knew football inside and out. He touched many lives, was in many ways like a brother to Resignalo. As Head Coach Billy Back put it, “from the moment Clayton would wake up, he would be on the phone with players and coaches”.
Many players currently on our roster wouldn’t be a Cobra if it wasn’t for Banner. Wide Receiver Prince Shonola expressed his gratitude for Banner, saying “he changed my life”.
Known for how much he cared about players, Banner made a difference in the lives of many players, making their dreams of playing professional football come true. But he also touched many lives in other ways off the field, which honestly probably will be remembered even more. He was a great scout, but he was an even better man, father, friend and brother. He will be missed by many in this organization, around the NAL, and in other leagues as well. The Cobras send our deepest condolences to his family, and know that once a Cobra, always a Cobra, we are family and you will always be in ours.
Article by: DJ Wagner & Austin Simons