Former Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback Chad Hutchinson will be aiming for a World Bowl ring in Europe this spring after being assigned to the Rhein Fire for the 2004 NFL Europe League season.
Meanwhile, Rohan Davey, who has just won a Super Bowl ring as a member of the New England Patrioits, will be bidding for another championship with the Berlin Thunder.
Hutchinson, who started nine games for the Cowboys in 2002, and Davey, who was third-string behind New England's Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, are among the 229 current NFL players who have been allocated so far to the NFLEL this season.
They hope to follow in the footsteps of quarterbacks Jake Delhomme (Carolina Panthers), Brad Johnson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Kurt Warner (St. Louis Rams), who have all gone on to start in the Super Bowl after developing their skills in Europe.
A total of 18 NFL quarterbacks, plus one free agent, have been assigned to NFLEL teams for 2004. Among players assigned in other positions is ex-Washington Redskins running back Skip Hicks, who has been allocated by the Cincinnati Bengals to the Frankfurt Galaxy. A third-round NFL draft pick in 1998, Hicks has rushed for 1,109 yards in 38 games for the Redskins, Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers.
NFL Senior Director of Football Operations Nick Polk said: "We are very pleased with the support that the NFL teams have demonstrated for NFL Europe by allocating some of their best young players. It is very exciting to have Chad Hutchinson, Rohan Davey and others playing in our league. They are part of an excellent group of quarterbacks who the fans in Europe are going to have a lot of fun watching.
"But the quarterbacks are just part of the story. NFL Europe has proved a great training ground for players in all positions and that is why the quality of the allocated players continues to grow each year. The fact that we have a record total of 44 players who were previously selected in the NFL draft is another indicator of the increasing depth of talent in the pool of allocated players."
Competing for the starting position at quarterback for the Amsterdam Admirals will be the Washington Redskins' Gibran Hamdan, along with two NFLEL veterans, Clint Stoerner, allocated by the Miami Dolphins, and David Priestley, now with the Seattle Seahawks.
Hamdan spent four games as the Redskins' number-two passer in 2003 behind former Berlin Thunder quarterback Tim Hasselbeck. Stoerner played for the Scottish Claymores in 2001, passing for 1,866 yards and 10 touchdowns, before going on to start for the Dallas Cowboys, while Priestley shone during limited playing time with the Admirals in 2003, passing for 326 yards and 4 touchdowns.
In Berlin, Davey, a fourth-round NFL draft pick in 2002, will be aiming to win the starting position after appearing in two NFL games. He is the only quarterback in Louisiana State history to pass for more than 3,000 yards in a season. Also playing for the Thunder will be free agent David Rivers, who made an impressive start to the 2003 NFLEL season with Amsterdam (224 yards, 2 touchdowns, 123.8 rating) before suffering a season-ending injury, and the Kansas City Chiefs' Marc Dunn.
Former Berlin Thunder quarterback Todd Husak will team up again with Cologne Centurions head coach Peter Vaas, with whom he won a World Bowl ring in 2002. Husak, allocated this year by the Cleveland Browns, completed an NFLEL single-season record 208 passes for 2,386 yards and 14 touchdowns in his earlier stint in Europe and passed for 2 touchdowns in Berlin's World Bowl X defeat of the Rhein Fire.
He will be joined at the Centurions by the New York Giants' Ryan Van Dyke, a former starter at Michigan State, and the Carolina Panthers' Rob Adamson, who led Mount Union College to the NCAA Division III championship in 2001 and 2002 and posted a 25-0 record as a starter.
Joining the Frankfurt Galaxy is J. T. O'Sullivan, a sixth-round draft choice of the New Orleans Saints in 2002. He will be competing with the Kansas City Chiefs' Kirk Farmer, who completed 13 of 24 passes for 190 yards, 1 touchdown and a 94.1 quarterback rating for the St. Louis Rams in the 2003 NFL preseason, and the Oakland Raiders' Bret Engerman.
Hutchinson will hope to make his mark with the Rhein Fire. The former football and baseball star at Stanford, who has also played baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals, has passed for 1,563 yards and 7 touchdowns in his two-year NFL career.
He will be up against Atlanta Falcons passer Wesley Phillips, the son of former Denver and Buffalo head coach Wade Phillips, and Greg Zolman of the Buffalo Bills, who owns Vanderbilt school records with 7,981 yards and 41 touchdowns.
The Cleveland Browns' Nate Hybl is heading to the Scottish Claymores after posting a 19-3 record as a starter at Oklahoma. Joining him will be the Detroit Lions' Curt Anes, who won a Division II championship with Grand Valley State in 2002, and the Denver Broncos' Tory Woodbury who has been in the NFL for three seasons and played at wide receiver and on special teams for the New York Jets. Tom Arth of the Indianapolis Colts completes the Claymores' quarterback roster.
An additional 98 players were selected in the NFL Allocated Player Draft. The first overall pick was defensive end Corey Smith of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who was selected by the Berlin Thunder.
Among NFL-allocated players protected by their previous NFLEL teams, the Scottish Claymores will welcome back running back Maurice Hicks, of the San Francisco 49ers. Hicks rushed for 546 yards for the Claymores last season, including the longest run in NFLEL history (93-yard touchdown versus Berlin in Week One).
Overall, 17 players were allocated by the Kansas City Chiefs and 14 from the Cleveland Browns, the highest totals of any NFL teams. Other NFL allocated players may be added before training camp opens in Tampa Bay, Florida, at the end of the month.
Players report to training camp in Tampa, Florida on Friday, February 27. The NFL Europe League's 12th season kicks off the weekend of April 3-4 with games in Frankfurt, Rhein and Berlin.