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Wuerffels career unclear
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<span style='color:blue'>OCALA - Danny Wuerffel wants another season, but does anybody want him?

After four teams in six seasons, Wuerffel finds himself in pro football purgatory, in between teams searching to sustain a dream and pay the bills.

Reality, though, suggests his football career may be over. July's nearly here and he doesn't have a job.

Last fall was spent with the Washington Redskins. His one-year deal expired. Although Redskins coach Steve Spurrier has not ruled out re-signing his former college quarterback, he has expressed regret about signing so many former University of Florida players.

Gone is Chris Doering. He signed with Pittsburgh. Gone is Shane Matthews. He signed with Cincinnati. Wuerffel? Who knows?

"I may or may not get on with the Redskins or another team," Wuerffel said last Sunday while taking a break from the BMW Passing Academy at Trinity Catholic High School. "I may play five more years, or I may be done."

Welcome to the life of an NFL backup quarterback. Starters have stability. Reserves are indentured servants, who learn to adjust to life on the road.

"You just don't know what's going to happen," Wuerffel said. "We've been in this situation many a time, my wife and I, in our career. We've faced the reality of not playing different times. We have a lot of things we're planning on doing when we finish. We'll see."

If an NFL offer fails to emerge, Wuerffel, 29, said he probably will retire. Other options do not motivate him.

"I would never say never," Wuerffel said. "I don't think the Canadian or the Arena League or (NFL) Europe would be of interest to me now. Again, I would never say never, but there are other things in life that interest me at this point in my life I think."

Post-football plans appear murky. The son of a minister may follow in his father's footsteps.

"It's a transition," Wuerffel said. "I look at my life as a football player. At some point in the future, I'll have a feel for another purpose or calling you could say. In the meantime between the two, it's sort of a time of transition. I'll continue and have more ability to do some speaking, church or youth-type speaking. I'm very interested in doing some foundation work, some ministry work. I've got a lot of ideas in that area. I've also got some business ideas that I've been considering. I've really found joy in having money to give to people who need it."

It's almost a cliche storyline by now, but many assumed Wuerffel would become a quarterbacks coach and groom dozens of little Wuerffels, lads with choir-boy good looks, who could shotput the ball to wide-open receivers with astonishing efficiency.

Sounds good, but don't count on it.
"I'm a coach at the BMW Passing Academy. Beyond that, I'm not sure," Wuerffel said. "If I had five lives to live, one of them would be as a coach. When you only have one life to live, and as a Christian only one life to give, you have to consider what's right for you. It may be as a coach, but I don't know."

Life without football does not frighten him.

"Well, I think anytime there's an unknown and in any football player's life there's always a transition when you finish," Wuerffel said. "I figure I'll deal with some of those emotions. In the big picture, I feel real comfortable with that."

In college, he was a hero. In the pros, he has been an adequate backup, who survived with a quick release and a quicker mind. So far, he has accounted for 2,123 yards passing, 12 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in six seasons.

Disappointing? Yes.
Devastating? No.
"I've never tried to prove anything," Wuerffel said. "I've always tried to do the best I could. That way you can sleep better at night. Certainly, I've been at places where it's worked. I've been in places that it hasn't. I try to take a deep breath and sleep well regardless of the circumstances."

That's Wuerffel. Always smiling. Always giving. Always joking. Never jaded. He has the maturity of an adult, but the innocence of a child.

"He really likes being around the kids and having a good influence on them," said former UF quarterback Kerwin Bell, who along with Shane Matthews and Wuerffel headline the BMW Passing Academy. "He does a real good job. He really coaches the younger kids. Shane coaches the middle group. That's how we start out, then we rotate them around. Danny does a real good job with the young kids. He does a lot with the mental part of the game, what it takes to play the position of quarterback. Those guys get good insight on how to play the position."

Wuerffel was one of three instructors at the three-day event.

"In life it's neat when you get to do things you like, and to do it with people you like," Wuerffel said. "I enjoy kids and football and high school football. I enjoy Shane and Kerwin. For us to get together and do something good is a treat for me."

They laugh. He laughs. He teaches. They learn.

"It's neat to see the kids improve," Wuerffel said. "When I was their age, I had people who invested in me that helped me be who I am. It's good to get a chance to play that role and help kids out. It's fun to do with Shane and Kerwin and some of the other coaches. It's really, really hard work, but it is (rewarding)."

The camp, in its second year, drew some of the top high school players in North Central Florida. Among those who participated were Cornelius Ingram, an elite football and basketball prospect from Hawthorne; and Marcus Edwards, a coveted wideout from Lafayette High School.

"We had all different talent levels," Wuerffel said. "We had kids out there with potential to play in the NFL, and we had some who may never even play for their high school team. Our goal mostly is to take them where they are and have them better once they leave with the tools to continue to work on things. I think we accomplished that."

Wuerffel earned All-America honors at Fort Walton Beach High School before winning the Heisman Trophy and a national championship at UF in 1996, but he never attended an offseason quarterback camp.

The BMW Academy was one of two camps organized by Bell, Trinity Catholic's head football coach. The first session was set up more as introductory for less experienced athletes. Sponsorship from Sullivan Cadillac kept costs low, so more athletes could attend.

The BMW, however, is designed for high-level high school skill players, who paid nearly $300 for intensive instruction from three former college All-Americans.

"I had a really good high school football coach," said Wuerffel, a Destin resident, who led FWB to a state title. "He taught me a lot. Some high school teams may not have a guy who can coach quarterbacks. This is a great opportunity for them; everyone benefits, especially guys who need attention at quarterback."

A dedicated teacher, though, is only half the equation. A pupil has to be willing to listen and labor.

"Kids today don't have the same work ethic," Wuerffel said. "I think there's a lot of the fast-food mentality. You want to be where you are and then you want to be where Michael Jordan is tomorrow. You don't realize the time it takes from where you are to where you need to be. That's the biggest thing kids need to learn, about hard work and perseverance."







Weurffel...without a doubt...my all-time Gator. What class this young man has..if only more athletes could be this type of role model. Hopefully one day he will return as the QB coach at UF and one day lead the Mighty Gators like the "Evil Genius" did.
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06-29-2003 02:32 PM
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