(Photo courtesy of the Carolina Panthers)
Talk of Fame Network
This week’s show wraps up our six-part series, “Out of Their League,’’ exploring all the leagues other than the NFL over the years. The Hall of Game guys return this time to the heady days of NFL Europe, which brought you Hall-of-Fame candidate Kurt Warner, Jake Delhomme, Adam Vinatieri, Brad Johnson and a strong case for the continued need for a developmental league for young players.
Delhomme said playing in Amsterdam and Frankfort was a key to his later NFL success — but was not only a football adjustment but a culinary one for a Cajun from the Bayou.
“The biggest adjustment was just eating French fries before a game,’’ Delhomme said on the latest Talk of Fame broadcast. “We had to make do and adjust to the food. I was spoiled coming from Louisiana, where we like to think we cook very well.’’
Delhomme spent his first season in Europe backing up Warner, who himself had been a quick NFL washout and then a hot property in the Arena League. Warner, too, says the need for a place for young prospects to develop into NFL-ready players is critical — so critical that Delhomme didn’t quite notice what Warner was capable of.
“I was probably not smart enough to know what I was seeing,’’ Delhomme said of watching Warner. “I was 21 years old. He was someone extremely accurate with the football who made very quick decisions. He never blinked in a game.’’
Delhomme recalled the difficulty of having to have at least one “national player’’ (a European, as mandated by the rules) on the field, but he said not even that flustered Warner.
Delhomme, Warner and Johnson all feel there’s a need for such a developmental league again to train talented players lacking in game experience, as they were before later earning starting spots in the NFL.
Johnson played one season (1995) for the London Monarchs and led NFL Europe in completions. Seven years later he was lifting the Lombardi Trophy as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback. But that may not have been his greatest moment. He’s also the only NFL quarterback to ever complete a touchdown pass to himself.
Johnson recalls that 1997 game against the Vikings when his pass was batted into the air, he caught and scored.
“For fantasy football that counts 12 points,’’ he said.
The Hall of Fame guys – Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge – also tracked down someone who found a different league to develop his skills and became a national phenomenon as “He Hate Me,’’ the face of the short-lived XFL.
Rod Smart was the XFL’s second-leading rusher that season and its biggest star when he opted to put “He Hate Me’’ rather than his name on the back of his Las Vegas Outlaws’ jersey. It was an instant hit.
Smart would go on to play five years in the NFL as a special-teams standout and kick returner who played in Super Bowl XXXVIII for the Carolina Panthers. But it was hard to beat his days as “He Hate Me.’’
“I was the original guy getting hated on,’’ Smith said, recalling the time two L.A. Xtreme players came out wearing jerseys that read “I Hate He’’ and “I Hate He Too’’ on their backs.
The XFL. What a league.
This week Clark makes the Hall-of-Fame case for the NFL’s overlooked all-time leading scorer, Morten Anderson, while “Dr. Data,” our Rick Gosselin, explains why for some teams Week 2 is a “must win’’ game.
Dr. Data knows the facts, which in this case is that only three of the 49 Super Bowl champions survived 0-2 starts.
The “Borges or Bogus” segment excoriates the NFL for trying to take Tom Brady to the woodshed for four games for allegedly deflating footballs while doing nothing to Ndamukong Suh and Adam Jones for trying to deflate the heads of opposing players on opening weekend.
There’s also the weekly discussion of the stories of the moment, the quick hitting two-minute drill where the questions come fast and the answers faster, the weekly Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame selections and a lusty debate among the Talk of Fame guys over whether the NFL needs a developmental league and why it’s the only one of the four sports without one.
The Talk of Fame Network can be heard on over 80 radio stations around the country Wednesday nights from 8-10 p.m. and is re-broadcast on the weekends on most stations. It’s also available on iTunes, the TuneIn Radio app or by going to talkoffamenetwork.com on your computer.