Players begin move from XFL to NFL


The Xodus has begun.

At least eight XFL players have signed NFL contracts and as much as 100 could follow as NFL teams follow up the draft by acquiring free agents to fill their training camp rosters. Even before last weekend’s XFL championship, in which Los Angeles beat San Francisco, players from the fledgling league sposnored by the World Wrestling Federation and the NBC broadcasting network had signed with NFL teams. Among them are Memphis tight end Mark Thomas, who signed with Kansas City; defensive backs Tawambi Settles of the New York-New Jersey Hitmen and wide receiver Corey Nelson of Las Vegas, who went to Seattle; cornerback Hurley Tarver of Las Vegas, who signed with Green Bay; and tackle Jon Blackman of Las Vegas and linebacker Ron Merkerson of the Hitmen, who signed with Carolina. Safety Kerry Cooks of Chicago and linebacker Joseph Tuipala of Las Vegas signed last Friday with Jacksonville. Many NFL personnel privately welcomed the XFL as another venue for players who had failed to make the NFL to get additional experience. NFL teams scouted the XFL all season. Among those who most likely will be signed are two former first-round quarterback busts — Tommy Maddox of Los Angeles and Jim Druckenmiller of Memphis. Another XFL quarterback, Jeff Brohm of Orlando, actually was on the Cleveland roster for the final game of last season even while under contract to the XFL. But Maddox might have trouble getting back with the man who drafted him for Denver in 1992, Dan Reeves, who took him to the New York Giants and Atlanta, where he now coaches. The Falcons just traded up to take quarterback Michael Vick with the first pick in last weekend’s NFL draft and also have veteran starter Chris Chandler and Doug Johnson, who showed promise as a rookie last season.