UFL's 'Premiere' Player Draft Slips Beneath Media's Radar -- Were *You* Taken?
What if you had a pro football draft and nobody came?
We're not talking about players here, but the media. The NFL draft has turned into an all-day -- and we really do mean all-day -- bonanza for anyone who's ever toted a microphone to report from parts unknown and describe each player in one of three ways: "A natural athlete," "a big, strong kid who can manhandle the opposition when properly motivated," or "breathing a lot easier since the charges were knocked down to misdemeanors."
There was no similar fanfare for the San Francisco-based United Football League's "Premiere" draft of non-college, non-professional players it worked out at combines across the nation. Basically, these are guys a couple years out of college (perhaps very good, but you've almost certainly never heard of them) and older guys a couple years out of the pros; the UFL teams will stock up on players cut off NFL preseason rosters a few months down the road. In any event, here's the list of players chosen last week for the as-yet unnamed San Francisco franchise (majority owner: Paul Pelosi) which will play at AT&T Park:
FB ARMSTRONG, ODIE (NW OKLAHOMA ST)
RB AYANBADEJO, FEMI (SAN DIEGO STATE)
QB BOYD, SHANE (KENTUCKY)
WR BRACKINS, LARRY (PEARL RIVER CC)
LS BROWN, KAI (BROWN)
QB DIETZ, BRETT (HANOVER)
WR FITZGERALD, MARCUS (MARSHALL)
DE GUNN, MARQUIES (AUBURN)
RB HUTSONA, DARRELL (WASHINGTON STATE)
LB KWATENG, PRINCE (NORTHWESTERN)
TE LEDBETTER, BRANDEN (WESTERN MICHIGAN)
T LEKKERKERKER, CORY (CALIFORNIA-DAVIS)
LB MARTIN, JOE (SAN DIEGO STATE)
QB O'HAGAN, LIAM (HARVARD)
T RIMPF, BRIAN (EAST CAROLINA)
WR SAMS, BJ (MCNEESE STATE)
T STAMPER, BRIAN (VANDERBILT)
NT STEWART, JASON (FRESNO STATE)
DE SUGGS, DAMON (GEORGIA SOUTHERN)
DB TREAUDO, AHMAD (SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY)
DB UNDERWOOD, MARVIEL (SAN DIEGO STATE)
DB UNERTL, JEREMY (WISCONSIN-LA CROSSE)
RB WASHINGTON, JOHN DAVID (MOREHOUSE)
WR WEST, JOE (TEXAS EL-PASO)
A couple of names may jump out for you here: Obafemi Ayanbadejo (a name, honestly, that always jumps out) went to high school in Santa Cruz and played a decade in the NFL before flunking a drug test two years ago.
B.J. Sams played several years in the NFL as a return specialist before bouncing out last year ... and that's it for me. No knock on these men's talent, but other than noticing how large everyone seemed to be, they could all be riding on this morning's N-Judah and I wouldn't notice. They could be driving the train.
So, it won't be star power that wins fans to the UFL, at least at first. Will it be quality football? We'll see.