For former NFL safety Aaron Francisco, that time was in 2012 when he was waived by the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 31 – less than two months after the team signed him to a one-year deal.
While Francisco was waiting for his next phone call with an opportunity to resurrect his football career, he received a different call. When he picked up the phone ex-NFL player Deuce Lutui, the National Rugby Football League’s Director of Player Development, was on the line. Lutui was reaching out to Francisco with an invitation to fly to Minnesota for the NRFL combine.
So, what did Francisco do? He jumped in head first, not wanting to pass up the opportunity to ignite a another career as a professional athlete.
“I didn’t really know what to think about but told him, ‘Yeah, if they pull through I’d love to be part of it,’” Francisco said, according to USA Today. “I didn’t want to be one of those guys who had a shot at something and didn’t take it and it becomes huge and I felt like I missed out.”
When Francisco arrived at the combine, he didn’t let the talent scare him and performed the best to his ability.
“The talent level was really good, but I also performed really (well),” Francisco said, according to The Digital Universe. “I thought I was one of the better guys there, and that’s what I train for.”
As it turns out, Francisco was right – he had a knack for the sport. The former BYU safety’s efforts turned some heads at the combine.
“After the combine was over, I think they were supposed to contact us within 30 days after and I hadn’t heard from them in two months,” said the dual-sport athlete. “Then (NRFL director of player recruitment Shawn Zobel) called me one day and said everything was good and they’re getting things started up again and I got really excited about it. I joined (the Red Mountain Rugby) league out here just to learn the game and learn as much as I can.”
Francisco will be another player to keep an eye on as the NRFL takes form in the next year or so. According to the USA Today, Michael Clements, one of the NRFL’s co-founders, is planning to form a squad to play an exhibition match against the Leicester Tigers, with the creation of the league to follow behind shortly after.
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