USFL players explain what motivated them to join the league

USFL players explain what motivated them to join the league

Apr 21

Why do players choose to play in the USFL?

Several of the top players across the league sat down with FOX Sports to explain what motivated them to join the USFL.

For 34-year-old New Orleans Breakers quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, the USFL allowed him to continue pursuing his dreams. "Anytime you get to put on pads and play professional football, it’s a blessing. It’s a league full of guys chasing their dreams. They’re hungry, they have scars, they’ve been told ‘no.’ It makes you play for a deeper reason. … This decision was all about football and family. I get to join my family, they’re with me every step of the way as I get to chase my dreams."

Pittsburgh Maulers defensive lineman Boogie Roberts also shared a similar sentiment to Bethel-Thompson, saying, "This league gives players like myself the opportunity to chase their professional dreams and live out that dream they had since they were a young kid. [I'm] forever grateful and indebted for the opportunity to play in the USFL." 

Maulers safety Bryce Torneden said it's all about his coaches and teammates: "You have to take every opportunity you get. I took it because of the coaching staff we have at the Pittsburgh Maulers. Just being in the locker room is something you can't find outside of football and I think any player would jump at the chance to be in the locker room again."

The USFL also provides a unique opportunity for those who did not have immediate success in the NFL, which was the case for Maulers center Xavier Dampeer. "It’s an opportunity for guys like me who were kind of on the street. Guys who got cut from the NFL. For me, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime and one I don’t take for granted. I’m honored to be able to play for the USFL."

Two Michigan Panthers agreed, saying the league provides them with an opportunity to make it to the NFL. Panthers linebacker Frank Ginda said, "I feel like I was on the short end of the stick going into the NFL and bouncing around multiple teams. I feel like this opportunity is going to give me some leverage to get back to the NFL."

Panthers WR Joe Walker added, "I wanted to showcase my talents and try to make it to the NFL. I want to be the best in the USFL, and I hope to do that this year." 

For Breakers linebackers Vontae Diggs and Jerod Fernandez, the USFL brought them closer to their home and family. Diggs said, "To be back in the U.S. and play in front of my family and have my friends come to games is pretty dope. Last year was the first time my mom has seen me play football in three years." 

Fernandez added, "I played in Canada for three years. The opportunity to play American football home again, be home and be close to my family and see my kids, have them see me play."

Birmingham Stallions QB J'Mar Smith says his choice to come back and play in the USFL was all about playing the game he loves: "Coming back for Season 2 is just another opportunity to play football."

As Houston Gamblers running back Mark Thompson says, "Who doesn't want to do something they love and that's fun for work." 

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