Espinosa vs Grady: Lions vs. Empire Preview

by Alex Husting

Saturday’s matchup between the Columbus Lions and the Albany Empire will feature not just the best defense in the NAL and the best offense going head-to-head, but also the two best quarterbacks in the NAL. This Saturday Mason Espinosa and Tommy Grady will face off for the first time since their clash during the season opener in May.

During that season opener, Espinosa and Grady combined for 77 passing attempts, 612 yards and 17 touchdowns. Espinosa set the all-time single game record for touchdowns with nine and Grady was right behind him with eight. Both quarterbacks have continued to perform at a high level since that game and now they meet this Saturday as league leaders in every major passing category.

Tommy Grady leads the league in nearly every major passing category and for those that he does not lead, he is still near the top. He currently averages 253.5 yards per game and 8.1 yards per attempt, along with throwing for 1521 yards and 40 touchdowns, all first in the NAL. 

He has attempted 187 passes and completed 130 of them, which is third in the league, yet he has completed 69.5% of his passes which leads the NAL. He is second in the league with only four interceptions and he leads the league in pass efficiency (204.2). 

Grady has been placed in a pass-first offense that stretches the field and puts points on the board and he currently has the Empire offense at first in the NAL in scoring (63.8) and passing yards per game (259.0).

Following that season opening loss, Mason Espinosa has led the Lions on a five game winning streak and has put the team in a position to take first place in the NAL. Following that historic performance from Espinosa, the former NAL Offensive Player of the Year has continued to perform at a high level, putting up huge numbers in the process. The veteran quarterback is second in the NAL in passing yards (1411), yards per game (235.2), completion percentage (69.2%), pass efficiency (184.5) and touchdowns (39). Espinosa leads the NAL in completions with 146 while being second in the NAL in attempts (211) and yards per attempt (6.7). The veteran quarterback  has rarely made mistakes this season and he has only thrown two interceptions, which is the best in the NAL.

Saturday’s game between the Empire and Lions already has massive implications, with the winner taking first place in the NAL and potentially home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The matchup between Espinosa and Grady could be the deciding factor in who wins the NAL MVP this year as both quarterbacks have been neck and neck the entire season, each having a clear impact on their team’s success while putting up impressive numbers. 

Kickoff for that highly anticipated rematch is set for 7 p.m EST and tickets are on sale here. The game can be watched live with CTV Beam, at or on the NAL’s official Youtube channel


The Columbus Lions are members of the National Arena League (NAL). Founded in 2007, the Columbus Lions are starting their 15th season in 2021. The Lions are a 3x league champion and 13 playoff appearances in their rich history. The Lions play their home games at Hughston Field in the Columbus Civic Center. Lions Season Ticket Memberships are on sale now call (706) 322-3336 or visit Follow the Lions on Facebook at, twitter @columbuslions and


The National Arena League was founded in 2016 and hosted its inaugural season in 2017 as the premier league in arena football. The National Arena League will kick off its fifth season in 2021. For more information regarding expansion opportunities or partnerships, contact Commissioner Chris Siegfried at For more information about the NAL visit,,,