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Muscle Sport Magazine

Christian Hackenberg Should Look To AAF or XFL

NFL Media

Garnering a weekly paycheck of $5,700 with zero chance of playing – or even dressing – on Sunday is no way for a former second round draft choice to earn a living… especially a quarterback. But that is exactly the case with Christian Hackenberg, who is toiling as one-tenth of the practice squad of the Cincinnati Bengals and probably lucky to even have a job at this point.

But considering that he is only 23 years of age, ‘Hack’ actually has a few options in front of him to show that he can do more than lead the scout team. He can look towards two different professional spring leagues that play by basically the same exact rules as the National Football League, one that is starting up on February 9, 2019 and one a year later.

It would be a good bet that Hackenberg would stand out amongst the below crowd:

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ALLIANCE OF AMERICAN FOOTBALL (AAF)

The weekend after the Super Bowl is far from the offseason for gridiron fans (especially those who have chosen to boycott the NFL like us), as the AAF inaugural season begins with four games – two on Saturday February 9 and two on Sunday February 10. A 10-week regular season culminates in April with the playoffs and a championship game to follow.

There will be eight teams competing in the AAF and a perusal of their current rosters isn’t exactly filled with household names, especially at the quarterback position. So a draft bust like Hackenberg would stand out and, if successful, be immediately in the spotlight to show NFL scouts that he deserves another chance.

Here are the teams and their listed quarterbacks:

ARIZONA HOTSHOTS

*Mike Bercovici – San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona Cardinals (no stats to report)

*Jack Heneghan – San Francisco 49ers (no stats to report)

*Alek Torgersen – Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals (no stats to report)

ATLANTA LEGENDS

*Kyle Bolin – Philadelphia Eagles – rookie mini-camp tryout (no stats to report)

*Patrick O’Brien – rookie

*Marquise Williams – Green Bay Packers, Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL – no stats to report)

BIRMINGHAM IRON 

*Stephen Garcia – Montreal Alouettes (CFL – no stats to report), Tampa Bay Storm (AFL – 1 game)

*John Gibbs- (no stats to report)

*Eli Jenkins – Los Angeles Chargers, Edmonton Eskimos (CFL – no stats to report)

*R.J. Nitti – (no stats to report)

*Max Shortell – (no stats to report)

*Brandon Silvers – Philadelphia Eagles (no stats to report)

*Blake Sims – Toronto Argonauts, Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL – no stats to report), Wollongong Devils (National Gridiron Legaue – Australia – no stats to report), Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (no stats to report)

MEMPHIS EXPRESS 

*Austin Allen – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (no stats to report)

*Alejandro Bennifield – New Orleans Saints – rookie mini camp (no stats to report)

*Troy Cook – rookie

*Tyler Ferguson – Tennessee Titans (no stats to report)

*Jesse Hosket – Oakland raiders rookie mini-camp (no stats to report)

*Zach Mettenberger – Tennessee Titans (2 seasons, 14 GP, 10 GS, 12 TD, 14 INT, 2,347 yards, 60.3), San Diego Chargers (no stats to report), Pittsburgh Steelers (no stats to report)

*Alex Ross – British Columbia Lions (CFL – 4 GP, 0 TD, 2 INT, 82 yards), Winnipeg Blue Bombers (CFL – 1 GP, 0 TD, 0 INT, 0 yards)

*Matt Simms – New York Jets (2 seasons, 4 GP, 1 TD, 1 INT, 195 yards, 61.4), Buffalo Bills (no stats to report), Atlanta Falcons (no stats to report)

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ORLANDO APOLLOS 

*Kevin Anderson – (no stats to report)

*B.J. Daniels – San Francisco 49ers (1 season, no stats to report), Seattle Seahawks (2 seasons, 6 games, 0 TD, 0 INT, 18 yards), Houston Texans (1 season, 2 games, 0 TD, 0 INT, 7 yards)

*K.D. Humphries – (no stats to report)

*Stephen Morris – Jacksonville jaguars (1 season), Philadelphia Eagles (1 season), Indianapolis Colts (2 seasons), Washington Redskins/Seattle Seahawks/Houston Texans (1 season total – no stats to report)

*Tyler Murphy – Pittsburgh Steelers (1 season, 2 games, no stats to report), Miami Dolphins (1 season – no stats to report)

SALT LAKE STALLIONS

*Tommy Armstrong, Jr. – Minnesota Vikings (1 season, no stats to report)

*Garrett Grayson – New Orleans Saints (2 seasons, no stats to repot), Atlanta Falcons (1 season – no stats to report) 

*Matt Linehan – Minnesota Vikings – rookie mini-camp (no stats to report)

*Quinn McQueary – (no stats to report)

*Peter Pujals – Minnesota Vikings (1 season, no stats to repot)

SAN ANTONIO COMMANDERS

*Trevor Knight – Arizona Cardinals/Atlanta Falcons (1 season total – no stats to report)

*Luis Perez – Los Angeles Rams (1 season – no stats to report)

*Dalton Sturm – Dallas Cowboys (1 season – no stats to report)

*Dustin Vaughan – Dallas Cowboys (1 season), Buffalo Bills (1 season), Pittsburgh Steelers (1 season), Baltimore Ravens (2 seasons) (ALL – no stats to report)

SAN DIEGO FLEET

*Josh Johnson – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4 seasons), San Francisco 49ers/Sacramento Mountain Lions (UFL)/Cleveland Browns (1 season total), Cincinnati Bengals (1 season), San Francisco 49ers (1 season), Cincinnati Bengals/New York Jets/Indianapolis Colts/Buffalo Bills (1 season total), Baltimore Ravens/New York Giants (1 season total), Houston Texans (1 season), Oakland Raiders (1 season) Career Stats (29 GP, 5 GS, 5 TD, 10 INT, 1,042 yards, 54.2)

*Marcus McDade – (no stats to report)

*Keith Price – Seattle Seahawks (1 season), Saskatchewan Roughriders (2 seasons), British Columbia Lions (1 season) Career Stats – CFL (35 GP, 0 TD)

Hackenberg was a reach pick of the New York Jets in 2016, going 51st overall after a productive, but not spectacular three-year career at Penn State. He had nice size at 6’4″ and 228 pounds, but there were some questions about his mechanics. The Jets tried to tinker with his throwing motion during rookie camp and OTA and did not put any pressure on him heading into his rookie campaign. Geno Smith, himself a second rounder, went into training camp as the incumbent starter with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick as his back-up. Bryce Petty, a former fourth round pick, was also on the roster, so the best that Hackenberg could hope for was a redshirt type year as the third or fourth string signal caller. The former Nitany Lion never progressed and only dressed for the season finale due to injuries at the position.

The following season, head coach Todd Bowles made it a three-way open competition between Hackenberg, Petty and newly-signed journeyman veteran Josh McCown. He was badly outplayed by both and was only activated for the last three games after Petty went on the Injured Reserve list.

Gang Green cut their losses and traded Hackenberg to the Oakland Raiders in May 2018 for a conditional seventh round draft pick, which ended up becoming absolutely nothing when he was cut a month later. He caught on with the Philadelphia Eagles during the preseason and ironically enough saw some action against the Jets and played miserably, earning another visit from ‘The Turk.’ Two days later, the Bengals became Hackenberg’s fourth team in three seasons.

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The one name that is always mentioned when the conversation goes to alternate leagues salvaging a quarterback’s NFL career is Tommy Maddox, who flamed out as a first round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 1992. He played for three more NFL teams, sat out two years and then latched on with the New Jersey Red Dogs of the Arena Football League before getting one last chance with the Los Angeles Xtreme of the original XFL in 2001.

Maddox became the MVP of the league and led his team to the Million Dollar Game, where they won the only XFL championship before the league folded. He showed enough promise that the Pittsburgh Steelers inked him as a back-up and he eventually became their starter. He spent five total in the Steel City and was quite impressive at times.

So all is not lost for someone like Christian Hackenberg. He just may have to think outside the box – and especially the NFL – to find his way.

2 Comments

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