Nearly 30 years ago, Dave King played high school football at what was then San Dieguito Union High School. now he’s a special agent in the narcotics enforcement division of the California Department of Justice, but football is once again a major part of his life.
King spends his limited free time serving as the president of the San Diego Enforcers, a semi-pro football team made up of law enforcement officers from throughout San Diego County. Saturday, the Enforcers will open their National Public Safety Football League season against Camp Pendleton’s First Marine Division Bulldogs in the third edition of the Defender Bowl.
Kickoff is at 5 p.m. at Escondido High. Tickets are $5, and kids 12 and under are admitted free, with proceeds benefiting the Semper Fi Fund for injured Marines and the Escondido Union High School District’s MAP scholarship program.
“We’re all in it for the same reason — we love to play the game of football,” said King, 44, who played for the Enforcers before moving into various administrative roles. “It’s a blessing to be able to play at this level. It’s a pleasure to work with law enforcement professionals who give themselves to their communities.”
The game between the Enforcers and Bulldogs has become a highly anticipated annual matchup for both sides. while the police officers have won both meetings — a rain-soaked 19-3 decision in 2010 and a decisive 38-12 victory last winter — they have the advantage of playing regularly. The Enforcers play a five-game schedule (including two upcoming home games at Cathedral Catholic this season), and the Marine team is limited to intramural games with a roster often disrupted by deployments.
Regardless, nobody playing in the Defender Bowl is doing it for a multi-million dollar contract. many of the players were high school standouts, and some played at small colleges, but most also took a number of years off from football while they focused on their law enforcement or military careers. their motivation is camaraderie and an athletic outlet that not many adults get to enjoy.
Jordan Mirakian, 36, has played fullback for the Enforcers for six years and also serves as the team’s vice president. a sergeant with the San Diego district police, he said teaming up with law enforcement officers from across the county helps foster relationships between agencies that often need to work together.
“It’s a brotherhood – these guys are my family,” Mirakian added. “Since I’ve been on the team, I’ve developed some friendships that I know are going to last beyond my football-playing days.”
King said the part of the enjoyment the Defenders get in playing their annual game against the Bulldogs is that many of the law enforcement players are former military servicemen. The Enforcers have an offensive lineman, Jason Becker, who is a veteran that served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“With Escondido and San Diego County so supportive of and so populated by military, we thought it would be a really neat event to bring the Marines and cops together in the spirit of competition,” said Neal Griffin, a lieutenant with the Escondido police department and Enforcers board member who dreamed up the Defender Bowl two years ago. “We play for the love of the game, the love of community and the love of country.”