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Friday, September 25, 2009

Lo, How the Mighty Have Fallen: Former Football Prodigy, Heisman Candidate Released by San Francisco's UFL Team

Posted By on Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 11:59 AM

click to enlarge warrick.jpg
Your humble narrator may be the only person who ever worked the agate page for a major newspaper's sports section who didn't amuse his buddies by slipping their names into the text on NFL cut day.

On that black day, hundreds of spectacular football players with the ability to nearly cut it at the highest level are unceremoniously dropped from team rosters. Sometimes the names of aging veterans do pop up, and ardent fans may recognize a player hailing from their alma mater. But, for the most part, these are anonymous men on the fringes of the professional game whose one newsworthy achievement with the team was to be removed from it.

Every once in a while, a name does jump out of the transactions page. Yesterday was such a day: A curt message from the fledgling United Football League noted that the San Francisco franchise, the California Redwoods, had cut wide receiver Peter Warrick. Now that is a name that will register with many fans: In the course of a decade Warrick went from football prodigy to odds-on Heisman Trophy favorite as college ball's most outstanding player to NFL bust to minor league gypsy. Now he's been released by a nascent league with the highest hope of one day being a minor league feeder to the NFL.

Warrick was a scintillating playmaker at Florida State University in the late 1990s. The 1999 Heisman seemed to be his for the taking when he was arrested in midseason for an incident in which he and a teammate scammed a department store to buy more than $420 worth of clothing for around 20 bucks. The resultant two-game suspension -- and more than that, the notariety -- killed any chance Warrick had of hoisting the Heisman.

The man at one point nicknamed "The Great One" went on to an extremely lackluster NFL career, playing six mediocre, injury-plagued years for Cincinnati and Seattle. From there he went to teams you never heard of and, then, to leagues you've never heard of. After washing out with the Areana Football League's Las Vegas Gladiators in 2007 and being released by the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes last year, the Chicago Tribune caught up to Warrick this summer when he was playing for an organization called the Bloomington Extreme in something called the "Indoor Football League."

Yes, this is the real-life equivalent of Randy "The Ram" Robinson descending from the marquee billing in pro wrestling arenas to staple gun fights with The Necro Butcher in musty VFW halls.

Thankfully, however, Warrick isn't living in a rundown trailer like the aforementioned movie character. The Tribune noted that he hasn't even bothered cashing his $200-$250 weekly paychecks because he banked more than $10 million during his brief NFL career and says he's financially stable. His football gypsy turn comes, he says, from a love of the game. After all, he is just 32. That's not old for a human being, but it puts a football player in his declining years. The days of folks cheering your name -- which is a thrill even in Bloomington, we'll bet -- are limited indeed.

One more detail of that great Tribune article caught our eye. On Warrick's left arm is a large tattoo of the Heisman Trophy emblazoned with the words "Can't Take This."

Every last name on the transaction reports tells a story. Dreams are broken, dreams are realized, or some poor agate clerk earns a beer by surruptitiously placing undetectable items such as these among the legitimate transactions:

The California Redwoods released P Stephen Brown, K Daniel Evans, and OLB Samuel Aubault, and signed QB Steve Weg, DE Moe Herskovits, and TE Ron Steinbaum to the practice squad

Either way, there's always a story.


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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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