One player has already jumped to the Arena League due to the lockout, but he was a fringe player at best. Former Kansas City Chiefs — and current free agent — defensive end Jason Babin told The Tennessean he would also consider playing in another league, but that a different sport altogether could be on deck for him: MMA.
The 6-foot-3, 267-pounder lettered in wrestling and won a heavyweight division state title in high school in Kalamazoo, Mich. One of his close friends, Richard Powers, is an MMA wrestler who competes professionally in San Diego.
Babin said he plans to train with Powers next month. While Babin ranks his ground game as solid, he said his standup game needs work before he enters the ring.
“It is an outlet to, you know, to compete,’’ Babin said. “I think that would help me pass the time and keep my edge sharp, especially if we are not playing football on Sundays.
“It’s actually something that relates to football. A lot of (MMA) is using your arms, and leverage. And lot of those things I do on those big tackles in football, so it is good hand-to-hand combat training. I think I’d be a natural fit.”
Players that are hard up for cash and know making an NFL roster are a long shot once the lockout ends will take their talents to the Areana League, CFL or UFL. Guys like Babin that are due for a nice pay day — or even just a mild one by NFL standards — aren’t going to be flocking to another league or to mixed martial arts.
Babin is a different dude, but I can’t see him risking his career playing in a college stadium for another league in front of a few thousand fans or in an MMA ring.
This mess — and it is quite the mess — will be settled. Those that choose to find other ways to pick up some extra cash will mostly be the same ones that likely would have their agents talking to these leagues under normal circumstances in case they couldn’t catch onto a practice squad.