Three ex-Pats pop up in UFL draft
|06.21.09 at 11:30 am ET|
The United Football League held its first draft this past week, and three former Patriots were selected.
Tight end Jermaine Wiggins was taken by Orlando. The East Boston native had two different stints with the Patriots, in 2000 and 2001, and the Georgia product earned a Super Bowl ring for his work in 2001. That year, he caught 14 passes for 133 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season. In addition to his time with New England, the 34-year-old also played for the Jets, Colts, Panthers and Vikings.
Wiggins’ best-known performance as a Patriot was likely the “Snow Bowl” playoff game against the Raiders in 2002. In the final contest ever at Foxboro Stadium, Wiggins had 10 receptions in the overtime victory over Oakland. In addition, he had a pair of receptions for 14 yards in Super Bowl XXXVI, with the second catch putting the Patriots into field goal range in the final seconds of the game.
In an interview shortly after he was selected — check it out here — Wiggins sounded enthused about the idea of getting back into football, and playing for Orlando head coach Jim Haslett and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity,” said Wiggins, who had been out of football since 2006, and had given mixed martial arts a try. “It didn’t matter where I was picked or by whom — I just wanted the opportunity. I am excited to play for Orlando, I am excited to play for Coach Haslett and Jay Gruden. I am excited to get out there and play football and help Orlando win the title.”
Wiggins, who found out he was selected via Twitter, said he’s willing to do pretty much anything to promote the UFL, and he wants to be a part of the first UFL championship team.
“For me personally, I am going down there with the mindset of winning a title,” said Wiggins, who caught a career-high 71 passes for Minnesota in 2004. “I’ll do everything I can do to help my team win. When my number is called, I’ll answer the bell. I’ll bring as much exposure to the UFL as possible — through every outlet possible. I’ll leave it all out there for the fans and let them get to know the players. I want the fans to know me personally.”
Punter Danny Baugher, who had a brief career with New England as part of the Pats‘ practice squad for a little less than a year, was also selected by the UFL. An undrafted free agent who signed out of the University of Arizona with the Bengals in 2006, he was soon released by Cincinnati. He was signed to the Patriots practice squad on Oct. 10, 2006, but was released on August 29, 2007. (Days after his release, he was involved in an early morning brawl with his father that ended with him in court facing an assault charge.) He was drafted by Las Vegas, a team that’ll be coached by former Giants coach Jim Fassel and reportedly be quarterbacked by ex-Buffalo QB J.P. Losman.
Wide receiver Chas Gessner was selected by Orlando. Gessner who was an All-American lacrosse star at Brown, gave up the sport as a senior to focus on football. An undrafted free agent, he spent a chunk of the 2003 season with New England, earning a Super Bowl ring. In addition, he has spent time with the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe and on the practice squads of the New York Jets (2004) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2006-2007) before a brief stint with the Seattle Seahawks (2008).
The four teams — New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Orlando — are slated to kick off their inaugural season in October. (For more UFL information, click here or here. For another interview with Wiggins — it looks like it came after his workout with Orlando — click here.)
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