The Three Musketeers. The Three Amigos. The Three Wise Men. In the annuls of nicknames, the concept of creative names for trios is a popular one.
In the 1990's, the Dallas Cowboys were the flavor of the day in the NFL, the chalk. They featured a trio of players known as "The Triplets."
Future Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin were a terrific threesome, the catalysts for three Super Bowl victories (there's that number again!).
In 2012, the New Orleans VooDoo have their own version of "The Triplets." In this case, they are equal parts, the target of an equal opportunity distributor in Kurt Rocco.
Josh Bush, L.J. Castile and Quorey Payne have collectively put together an outstanding season for a balanced offense on a team that is getting hot at the right time.
The trio have all eclipsed 1,000 yards in receiving with three games remaining in the regular season.
Bush leads the way with 90 receptions for 1,355 yards and 29 touchdowns. Castile leads in catches with 95 for 1,104 yards and 23 touchdowns. Payne has 89 receptions for 1,204 yards and 22 scores.
In Arena Football, many teams have two primary weapons at wide receiver who eclipse 1,000 yards in a season. It is far less frequent to see three receivers go over the magical mark.
Ironically, this is becoming the norm for Pat O' Hara-coached teams.
His Orlando Predators had three receivers with over 1,000 yards in 2011, including Robert Quiroga, T.T. Tolliver and Bobby Sippio. Bush, a member of the team, had 706 yards of receiving yards.
O' Hara says he strives to have multiple options with his offense.
"It just kind of works out that way," said O' Hara. "We just put different guys in motion, different bodies in different situations to try to balance that out."
O' Hara likes having different types of receivers and prefers using them all in high motion.
"When you put different bodies in motion and throw a different type or style at a defensive back, it creates some good situations and favorable matchups."
The different bodies come in varied shapes and sizes. Castile is 6'3, 225, long and strong. Bush is 5'9, 165, small and fast. Payne is 5'10, 180, shifty and nifty.
"There's a method to the madness there," said O' Hara. "We try to have three different types of bodies to create those kind of matchups you want. L.J. is a powerful big guy. 'Q' is a really good double move guy. Josh just flat out can run. Kurt's done a good job of figuring out their tendencies."
Bush credits O' Hara for the "spread the wealth" concept.
"Coach O' Hara has a good system in place for his offense where three guys, most of the time, are going to get 1,000 yards," said Bush. "It's just a good situation that all three of us are in and we're just taking advantage of it."
Castile says having three receivers consistently making plays makes it hard on opposing defense to focus in on a "go-to" guy.
"I just go out there and bang up on those guys and help these speedy guys (Bush and Payne) to try to make it easier for them," said Castile. "It's all about P.O.'s system."
Payne played with Rocco in Cleveland in 2011 and he has watched the 24-year old (youngest starting quarterback in the AFL) blossom into one of the league's top signal callers in 2012.
"Rocco is one of the great quarterbacks in this league right now," said Payne. "We're kind of making his job easy as far as being a big receiver with L.J., with Josh going deep and with me doing my little quick stuff in the middle."
Payne has a fun nickname.
"They call me 'Mr. Wiggles,' said Payne. "I just like shaking, I do a whole lot of crazy stuff when I'm running my routes."
Bush, who turns 32 this month, plays a lot younger.
"I try to do a good job of taking care of my body," Bush said. "Just staying young and these guys (Castile and Payne) keep me young. A lot of these guys on the team are 24 or 25 years old. Guys keep me going and keep me pumped up."
Castile joined the VooDoo during the forgetful 2011 season and has experienced a sharp learning curve in picking up the nuances of the AFL game.
"Last year, I did a few special teams plays," said Castile. "When I came in this year, watching 'Q' and Bush, they add a lot to my game. I hope they come back next year so I can learn ever more."
While Bush appears to be the fastest of the Triplets, Payne respectfully differed when asked who was the most fleet of foot.
"I would say me," laughed Payne. "Josh would say him, L.J. would say him, so we like to compete."
Naturally, Bush feels differently.
"Both of these guys can run but if I had to pick one, it would be me," Bush said.
Castile is the diplomat.
"I'm just going to play my role," Castile said. "I'm the strong guy out here. I'm just going to let them run fast. I'm just going to be powerful."
Bush was ready to settle the issue on the spot.
"We can race one day if you all really want to see it," Bush said.
While the three joked around, it came naturally. This is a trio that is part of a team that genuinely gets along well.
"Our main goal is just to believe in each other and work hard," Castile said.
"I definitely feel this is one of the great teams in this league right now," said Bush. "Our job still is not done yet. This team is just like the '07 team that I was on and the slogan was 'believe' and we went to the Arena Bowl that year. Unfortunately, we didn't win it but it's the same type of camaraderie with this team that was with that '07 team so I'm excited about it."
Payne, who has played five previous seasons of Arena Football, has high expectations for the VooDoo the rest of the way.
"The sky is the limit," said Payne.
With Rocco taking to the sky with outstanding efficiency, the VooDoo have a real chance to reach the playoffs and live the dream of hosting Arena Bowl XXV in New Orleans on August 10, thanks to a trio of consistent, professional, talented receivers. These Triplets are pretty good, a pleasure to watch.
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