While rumors circulated that the upcoming NFL Europe season might be delayed, relocated, or even cancelled due to the war in Iraq, Craig Nall had no doubt about where he wanted to be.
After a rookie season on the sideline as the Green Bay Packers' third quarterback, Nall couldn't wait to get on the football field again. Even if it meant going to Europe to do it.
Thus, Monday's announcement that the NFLE season would continue as scheduled was good news to Nall. And he was nothing but enthusiastic Tuesday as he packed up his belongings at the Scottish Claymores' training camp in Florida in preparation for his trip abroad.
"I'm really excited," he said. "This is a great deal for me. I'm going to get a good bit of playing time in NFL Europe, and game experience isn't anything you can coach."
Amidst fan and media speculation that the Packers might hunt for a quarterback in the NFL Draft next month, Nall will look to establish himself as a dependable backup, if not a potential candidate to succeed Brett Favre.
In those terms, Nall said that getting to play in Europe is like being granted an extra year of college eligibility.
"It might not be to the level of the NFL, but for me it's invaluable," he said. "I'm looking at it as a second senior season.
"I think in the past year I've demonstrated to the (Packers) coaches that I have a good understanding of the offense. Now I get to show them that I can make the reads, make the throws and lead an offense."
Helping him in that respect, Nall said the Claymores' offense is similar to the Packers' scheme, with different terminology.
After a somewhat rocky beginning to training camp, Nall said he is growing more comfortable with his receiving corps, and that the Claymores showed well in several scrimmages.
"I think we're going to move the ball pretty well," he said. "We're starting to get the timing down now. Personally, I feel really good."
Nall has been to Europe before, visiting in Paris a foreign exchange student Nall's family hosted when he was in high school.
But with much more to explore, Nall is eager to go back, and doesn't anticipate that the war in Iraq will pose a problem.
"When rumors were going around that we might play the season in America, I thought that might be kind of nice because my family and friends could come watch me play," Nall said. "But on the flipside, there's so much I want to experience in Europe. It's a great opportunity on and off the field, and I want to have a ball with it."
In addition to Nall, six other Packers players will participate in NFLE this season.
Also with the Claymores are linebackers Isaac Keys and Jermaine Petty, as well as safety Bobby Jackson. Punter Tim Morgan and safety Jeremy Unertl will play for the Frankfurt Galaxy. Wide receiver Travis Williams is a member of the Amsterdam Admirals.
The NFLE season is scheduled to begin April 5, running until World Bowl IX in Glasgow, Scotland, June 14.