When P.J. Berry left New Orleans for the city of Pittsburgh this past offseason he brought with him the pressure of being one of the league’s biggest playmakers. Last season with the VooDoo, Berry was named the AFL’s Ironman of the Year, despite being on just a 3-15 team. Now the weight is on him as he comes to help improve a Pittsburgh Power team reach the top of the league in just their second season.
“I have these accolades, but that was last year. This is a different year.” Berry said. “I know the pressure comes with coming here, but I love pressure because it makes you better.”
Berry has had a very successful career in the Arena Football League. Over his career, he has racked up 6,996 all-purpose yards with 83 total touchdowns.
Now the pressure continues to pile on Berry and his Power teammates. Sitting at 1-3 to start the season, P.J. “Superman” Berry has to prove to the Power faithful that he can help right the ship with his playmaking ability.
Just like the team, Berry’s season got off to a slow and frustrating start. After scoring only one touchdown in the first two games, Berry has since exploded with five scores in the past two games against Milwaukee and Iowa.
In that game against the Barnstormers, the Power diehards finally got to see what Superman was capable of doing. Berry scored three touchdowns, all in the first half, which helped give Pittsburgh the lead entering halftime. And all three scores showcased his tremendous athleticism.
On his first score, Berry took the screen pass and made the entire Barnstormer defense miss as he changed direction two or three times before racing down the sidelines for the touchdown.
Berry’s next score came on a kickoff, where he showed his patience in letting blocks set up before burning past the Iowa players.
Finally, at the end of the half on fourth down and goal, Andrico Hines hit Berry in the back corner of the end-zone to put the Power up by one with three seconds left.
Power Head Coach Chris Siegfried was pretty happy with his receivers performance.
“That’s what P.J. does. With a guy like P.J., you’ve got to figure out how to put him in those situations to make plays and let him go to work. I expect that from him.”
Even after a tremendous game like he had against Iowa, Berry said it’s too soon for fans to congratulate him on it.
“It’s going to seem wrong, but that’s what I can do,” Berry said. “It was just my turn. Any given day it can be anyone. That’s what they brought me here for, the exciting plays.”
“I understand what they’re saying though because they’ve never seen me play, but there are still things I can do better.”
Although Berry didn’t think he played his best game, he had someone special in the stands cheering on his every move. P.J.’s mom, Virginia, sat about a dozen rows up from the goal line rocking her “Berry’s Mom” Superman shirt and enjoying every one of her son’s scores. On two of his scores, Berry even tossed her the touchdown ball
“She never sits down. I thank her for that,” Berry said. “I have great parents who support me. If it’s not her, it’s my dad. I know the fans are like ‘she’s crazy!’ But she is. But I’m used to it and I love her being there.”
Another big reason for Berry’s success so far this season is his connection with his quarterback, Andrico Hines. All three of Berry’s receiving touchdowns this season have been thrown by Hines.
“I’ve known ‘Dric for five years,” Berry said. “It’s not my first time knowing him. We’ve been successful on other teams in the league. He’s a great quarterback. We have the chemistry because we’ve played together before.”
“I think mine and P.J.’s chemistry comes from me knowing how to push his buttons without upsetting him,” Hines said. “I just know he’s going to give me 100% every play.”
“Last game, that’s the P.J. I’m used to seeing,” Hines added. “He’s electrifying. He’s entertaining. That’s what he brings to the game.”
As Berry continues to win the hearts of Power fans with his unbelievable athletic talent, this Superman won’t be afraid to share his true identity as he interacts with his fans.
“I love interacting with the fans, especially the kids,” he said. “I have an education background so the kids are cool, they make it fun. If it weren’t for the fans we wouldn’t’ have a job.”