You wouldn’t know Mesa resident Michael McCarville spent four hours Friday on a dialysis machine, as he waits for a new kidney to save his life.
Holding a sign he has been building since the season’s start, wearing a Rattlers hat given to him by coach Kevin Guy after he was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2017, McCarville yells inside a Scottsdale coffee shop Saturday afternoon.
“You know what today is? It’s game day, baby! Game day!”
McCarville says he will be on the field after the Rattlers play the Sioux Falls Storm on Saturday night at Gila River Arena in Glendale to celebrate a seventh championship. He is guaranteeing a United Bowl victory.
He has his tattoo artist on alert to add to his left arm, to get it there before the Rattlers hold a rally in downtown Phoenix.
If they win, “2019” will be added to the other six years of championship seasons tattooed on his arm. At the shoulder before the championship years is the Rattlers logo above the word “championships.”
This time, he says he will add in parenthesis “perfect 16-0.”
He has no doubt it will happen.
He even predicts a score.
“Fifty-five to 35,” he says. “With (quarterback Drew) Powell getting MVP with three touchdowns. That’s my prediction.”
McCarville, 52, calls himself the No. 1 Rattlers fan, even though he figures there are about 50 fans like him who have never missed a Rattlers home game since they first began playing in 1992.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from noon to 4 p.m., he says he undergoes dialysis. He is on the transplant list for a new kidney. He got very ill in September 2017, joking, “Thankfully, it happened when the Rattlers weren’t in their season,” so he could keep his home-attendance streak alive.
“A guy my age waits three to five years (for a kidney),” said McCarville, who has run his own business for 13 years, teaching bar patrons how to play craps. “When I did get sick, part of me getting healthy was to make it back in time.
“Coach Guy, when he heard I was sick, he took a white Rattlers hat and wrote on it, ‘Keep fighting, Michael. Coach Guy.’ And he gave it to me. That was part of what was my inspiration. I told myself, ‘I need to get healthy, because I need to get back.’ ”
McCarville likes to ask trivia questions to people to see if they’re as knowledgeable as he is.
“Name the four quarterbacks of the six Rattlers championship game wins” is one of his favorites.
There was Sherdrick Bonner in 1994, Donnie Davis in ’97, Nick Davila in 2012, ’13 and ’14, and Cody Sokol in 2017 – the Rattlers’ first year breaking off from the Arena Football League and joining the Indoor Football League.
People normally get stumped on 1997 because they forget that Bonner broke his leg in the semifinal overtime win with Davis coming through and winning MVP of that title game, a rout of the Iowa Barnstormers and quarterback Kurt Warner.
McCarville once ran into Warner and brought up that game in which Warner was sacked for two safeties.
“He says I’m the only person who talks to him about the Arena Football League,” McCarville said. “He said that was the only time he ever had two safeties in a game.”
McCarville got in the news as a “crazy fan” in 2008, Guy’s first year with the Rattlers, when he called the AFL office to request that it didn’t schedule a Rattlers home game on the day he was getting married.
“When I got engaged in September, (my fiancee) picked the date and I just ran with it,” he said. “But I woke up in a cold sweat because I realized she picked April 12, right in the middle of the Rattlers season. We were getting married in Las Vegas and I needed the Rattlers to be on the road, so I wouldn’t end my streak.
Michael McCarville has never missed a Rattlers home game since they began playing in 1992
“At the time, the Arena League offices were in New York City. In October, I called the Arena office. I got through to a couple of secretaries. I got a hold of a guy and I said, ‘Season ticket holder needs to have the Rattlers on the road.’ He said, ‘I can’t make any promises.’ I said, ‘I know, but I need a guy to put a sticky note on his monitor when they go into that room to make the schedule and one guy to go to bat for me.’
“About a month later, the schedule comes out. I get a call with a New York prefix. I don’t know anybody from New York. I get on the phone and say, ‘Just tell me the Rattlers are on the road.’ The guy says, ‘The Rattlers play at the Georgia Force. And we want to do a backstory on the crazy fan who asked us to schedule around his wedding.’ I said, ‘Done.’ So they sent someone into my section to interview me.”
Now, as he waits for a new kidney, McCarville hopes Saturday night’s game gives him another reason to add to his tattoo.
To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at [email protected] or 602-316-8827. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert.
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