Scorned by the NFL, former Bills first-round draft pick J.P. Losman has decided to take his playing career in a different direction: to the newly founded United Football League.
The 28-year-old quarterback reportedly signed on with Las Vegas’ UFL squad after being passed over by both the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers, teams with whom he could have battled for a starting job.
“I’m trying to get back on the field as soon as possible,” Losman told ESPN.com. “I love the game. I want to play this game. I don’t want to be [in the NFL] waiting for somebody to get hurt or not play well.”
Losman, who instantly finds himself as the league’s most recognizable player, says that he wants to try to help the UFL gain footing before weighing his options again in a year.
“We’re trying to have as much success as possible here, try to create some buzz … and then go through [NFL free agency] again next year,” he said.
Losman was a 59.3 percent passer in his five years in the NFL, racking up 6,211 yards, 33 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. He accumulated a substandard 62.3 quarterback rating over 42 games and lost his job in 2007 to Trent Edwards.
But Losman will get an opportunity to prove his worth in Las Vegas, where he will be coached by Jim Fassel — another former NFL figure looking to show that he’s still got what it takes to succeed at the highest level.
Fassel, who made it to the Super Bowl in 2000 with the New York Giants and was credited with helping to rejuvenate the career of Kerry Collins, sees potential in the young gunslinger who drew comparisons to Brett Favre at the time of his drafting.
“If I had doubt that he should not be a starting winning quarterback, I wouldn’t take it on,” Fassel told ESPN.com. “But I had the same feeling with Kerry Collins … J.P.’s got tremendous athletic skills. This guy should be a starter in the NFL. I mean, come on … But I still understand you can help a guy. Even Tiger Woods needs a swing coach.”
Unlike other non-mainstream football leagues, the UFL — which consists of teams in Las Vegas, New York, Orlando and San Francisco — will compete head-to-head with the NFL during the fall. The league’s six-game season will begin on Oct. 8, while the championship will be held over Thanksgiving weekend.
While Losman’s move to the new league may be unconventional, he believes his foray into the UFL will prove to be a wise decision as he looks to improve upon his lackluster professional legacy.
“I’m looking at my career over the long haul,” Losman told ESPN.com. “OK, this is where I’m at in five years. But I look at it like, ‘Where do I want to be after a 10-year, 11-year career?’ There are some things I feel I want to work on that I need to work on, and this league gives me an opportunity to do that and to work with somebody who’s had a lot of success in the NFL.”