Linson staring oversees|Former Plymouth standout playing football in Germany
Published 6:22 am Sunday, July 25, 2010
By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
Damien Linson is best known for catching everything that comes his way, so it should come as no surprise that the man with the sticky hands could not let go of his love for football.
Linson, a former star wide receiver for the Plymouth Vikings and Central Michigan Chippewas, has caught on with the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes of the German Football League and is doing his country proud.
Linson dominated area football as a member of the Vikings before graduating in 2003 and moving on to Central Michigan. As a member of the Chippewas, the 5-10, 180-pound receiver graduated with his name littered all over the schools career leader list. Linson left CMU as the schools seventh leading receiver with 155 catches, while accumulating the fifth most receiving yards with 2,279 and placing fifth on its career touchdowns list with 17.
After graduating in 2006, Linson went undrafted by the NFL, but received several invitations to various training camps. Torn between the Baltimore Ravens and the Detroit Lions, Linson choose the more promising franchise of the two at the time and headed to Baltimore.
Despite his best efforts, Linson did not latch on with the Ravens and was cut before the start of the regular season.
Though out of football, Linson kept himself in great shape knowing that he was only a phone call away from getting another opportunity. That opportunity rang Linsons cell phone last year, the only catch was that it had a really funky area code.
Last summer I was contacted by an international scout to come over to Germany and play because someone had got injured on one of the teams, Linson said via cell phone from Germany. They wanted me to come over like that week. It was just something that I had to think about and I wasnt ready to just jump up and leave.
After some time and consideration, Linsons passion to play football guided him on a plane from North Carolina, where he had been working at the Family Care Network, to Kiel, Germany, a college town not too far away from Hamburg.
I kept in contact with him (the scout) and we talked a lot about it, Linson said. At the time I had been out of football for over two years, the last time I had played was in 07 with the Ravens. I just thought I would give it a shot for the love of the game.
The German Football League is the highest level American football league in Germany, consisting of two six-team divisions that play 12 regular season games.
Linson said that the setup has a very NFL-like quality to it, with the same 100-yard field and basic rules.
Helping sell him on the GFL were Kiel Baltic head coach Patrick Esume and former NFL and current Hurricanes defensive coordinator Bob Valesente
I ended up talking to the head coach here, Patrick Esume, and the defensive coordinator Bob Valesente, who won a couple of Super Bowls with the Packers and Steelers. We are fortunate enough to have him as our defensive coordinator.
I liked what they were talking about: winning. I had never been to Germany before but I thought it was a great opportunity to come over here and play football. Its what I love.
Linsons plane touched down in Germany on March 28 of this year, and like a good defense, Linson had some obstacles to overcome before finding success.
Its definitely different from America, the language is definitely difficult, Linson said. But I just take it one day at a time. I know enough of the language to get by but I cant really hold a long conversation with anybody.
On the field Linson has shown no signs of struggling as his 4.8 receptions per game is third in the GFL, while his 76.5 receiving yards per game is fourth. Linson, who has scored eight touchdowns in six games, is fourth in the league in TDs.
While Linson may have trouble with small talk, the playing field offers a more comfortable setting..
Its pretty much in all English. All the coaches speak English and for the most part all the players speak enough of it that I can talk to them, Linson said. But when it really gets heated all these guys start speaking German instead of English first. They will say something in German and someone will have to just let me know. … But in the huddle and on the field its English.
Though the language barrier can be tough, Linson has found joy in the local cuisine.
One of the good things is that the food is just so much fresher, they just have fresher food, Linson said. Their eggs are like the best eggs. I dont know where they get their chickens from, but their eggs are like my God.
While the food may be extremely palatable, digesting the Hurricanes diverse playbook proved to be a bit tougher.
We do a lot, honestly man, I cant even explain it, Linson said. We do a lot, this is definitely the most difficult offense that I have ever been in. We run, we pass, well use two backs and all different formations.
The exposure to new schemes, along with staying in football shape, should help Linson if the NFL decides to come calling again.
Linson did not rule out the idea of having an extended career across seas, but the 25-year old wideout said he is just taking it one play at a time.
Right now its just kind of up in the air, I dont really now what Im going to do yet, Linson said. Before I left I had a couple of opportunities to do some workouts for some NFL and USFL teams, but I wanted to go to the sure thing where I could play. I had been out of football and wanted to get my body right. When I come back to the states I might have a couple of things going on, so I really dont know yet. Im just going to take it one day at a time and God willing everything will work out.