Journeyman football player Paris Lenon, currently an inside linebacker for the Super Bowl-contending Denver Broncos, is the Johnny Cash of the National Football League and professional pigskin in general—he's be everywhere, man.
Originally signed by the Carolina Panthers in 2000, after going undrafted out of the University of Richmond Spiders football program, Lenon was cut before the beginning of the season. Well, it was June, so it was likely before the beginning of training camp. He then signed with the Memphis Maniax of the ill-fated XFL, football brainchild of wrestling guru and patriarch Vince McMahon, to get his first on-field action as a professional football player and begin the journey that has brought him to Super Bowl XLVIII, this Sunday in the frozen wasteland that is East Rutherford, NJ.
"There was no coin toss in the XFL. I think they put the ball on the 40-yard line," Paris recalled to Sports Illustrated. "They had a player from each team race to the ball from the goal line. Whoever recovered the ball won the toss."
"Somebody separated their shoulder … before the kickoff. You'd never see anything like that in the NFL."
Heading into the Big Game this weekend, Paris Lenon is the last remaining veteran of the XFL that is an active player in the NFL.
"I've been hearing a lot of that," Lenon said via Reuters. "I think it's a cool story, but other than that, I don't really think about it that much."
At age 36, Paris Lenon's career may be coming to an end, in much the same way as the defunct NFL Europe and its Amsterdam Admirals, another of several stops on his football journey. Lenon has been signed by but never played for the New England Patriots and Denver's Super Bowl opponent, the Seattle Seahawks. Paris has seen action for the Green Bay Packers (who'd sent him to Europe in 2002), the Detroit Lions, the St. Louis Rams and the Arizona Cardinals before signing with the Broncos in August, 2013.
What has Paris Lenon learned along the way?
Cherish every opportunity.
"I think you have to appreciate every year you're in this league and not to make light of this situation at all, but first of all, you appreciate the position that you are in being a professional athlete," Lenon said via Reuters.
"This is an added bonus to be in the biggest game."
"Everybody has different paths and different experiences; we've just been pleased to have him," Broncos coach John Fox said of Paris, via Shutdown Corner. "He's been a productive player for us and a good teammate to the rest of the team."
What do you think of Paris Lenon's football journey?
(Image Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports)