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Few players have more mileage, or more fun, than Outlaws receiver James Owens
JOHN WARNER/Gazette Staff At age 29, James Owens is among the most experienced players on the Billings Outlaws. But the 5-foot-9 speedster is not too old to lead by example - he is currently second on the team in receptions and receiving yards.

James Owens had an idea.

Both families would be there anyway, so why not share the moment with just a few more people?

"I wanted to get married at halftime," said Owens of his plan.

His fiancee, Kami Rodahl, quickly nixed the idea of getting married at the halftime of a Billings Outlaws game.

So the two got married on Friday, April 11. The next evening, Owens celebrated his nuptials by catching a pair of touchdown passes.

"We'll take our honeymoon later in the season," Owens finished with a laugh.

The honeymoon is being delayed because right now, Owens is busy catching passes and trying to get the Outlaws back into the National Indoor Football League playoffs.

The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Owens is second on the team in both receptions and receiving yards. He's caught five touchdown passes this season, including a nifty 34-yard jaunt last week against the Omaha Beef where he split two defenders en route to the end zone.

"He's a good player," said Joe Curtiss, the Outlaws' head coach. "He's like a spark plug. James is consistent in what he does. He runs really good routes.

"Every team needs a role guy like James. Somebody who catches the ball and runs with it after the catch."

Owens is more than a receiver for the Outlaws. At age 29 and with miles of football experience behind him, he becomes a coach on the field.

"I try to be a leader of my guys, the young receivers," he said. "I've played football a long time, ever since I was six years old. I know the ups and downs of the game.

"Any young guy I can help along the way, that's good. I want to make sure they're ready to play on Saturday night."

Owens, nicknamed "Quick", has been around the football block more than a few times. The Oakland, Calif., native — who played college football at Fresno State — has spent time in NFL camps with the Broncos, Dolphins and Cowboys, played a few months with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL and logged time with various indoor and semi-pro teams around the region.

In previous seasons, he would play year-round, first with an indoor franchise, then with a semi-pro team.

"I'm not going to be young forever and I'm not going to have the talent forever," Owens said of why he continues to play. "I have the ability, right now, to be out there. At $200 dollars a game, I'm not out there to get rich.

"Like everybody else, it's just something I love to do."

Owens originally played with quarterback Albert Higgs, along with Cory Grow and Jason Quinn with the Utah Rattlers. When that team folded two years ago, the group all came to Billings.

"We were a package deal," Owens said with a soft chuckle.

It was his second visit to the state of Montana.

"I played on a semi-pro team that played in Bozeman against the Bozeman Kodiaks," recalled Owens. "I didn't know much about Billings. I just wanted to play."

He caught 42 passes for 464 yards and 10 touchdowns last season to help the Outlaws win the Pacific Conference and reach the National Indoor Football League championship game.

Owens views himself as the Tim Brown or Jerry Rice of the Outlaws' receiving corps. He's got the experience to lead and the knowledge to stay productive. Owens uses that experience to keep away from those bone-crunching hits against the unforgivable boards that line the indoor field.

"I'm smarter than the average cat," he said. "I'm not going to take any unfortunate shots.

"Sure, there are sometimes you wake up on Sunday, and it's, 'Oh my gosh.' You just deal with it."

Owens, who works for a local auto dealer, has become part of the Billings community. He's helped coach Little Guy Football and this spring coached the receivers at Rocky Mountain College. He plans to continue that role this fall.

That's after the Outlaws' season.

"Every game is like an adventure. Every game is different," said Owens. "Once it gets to the point of me not having fun anymore, I don't want to play anymore.

"Right now, I'm having fun."

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