Canadian football? Sure. NFL Europe used to be a thing, too.
But pro football in Japan?
Ex-Michigan QB Devin Gardner and WR Jeremy Gallon have both signed with the Nojima Sagamihara Rise of Japan’s semi-professional X League, according to the Japan Times. They will open the 2016 season on Aug. 28 against the Obic Seagulls, who signed ex-UCLA quarterback Jerry Neuheisel.
Ex-Illinois CB Earnest Thomas III also signed with the Rise.
“Yeah, that was a huge decision, because I still had a chance to play in Canada and the NFL,” Gardner told the Japan Times. “But I thought it was kind of a great experience for me, because I’ve never actually been out of the country, out of the U.S. So I mean, why not get a chance to be a part of something special.”
Gardner spent the last year with the Patriots and Steelers as both a wide receiver and quarterback after going undrafted in 2015. He started 27 games and played 50 at Michigan as a QB, racking up 6,336 passing yards, 44 TDs and 32 INTs.
Gallon caught 173 passes and 17 TDs for the Wolverines, including 89 for 1,373 yards as a senior in 2013. The Patriots took him in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft, but injuries held him back. He’s since bounced around to the CFL and a handful of indoor and semi-pro leagues.
“I’ve played in front of 30 people before. And I’ve played in front of 115,000 people. So it doesn’t matter at the end of the day,” Gallon told the Japan Times. “What all matters is that between the white lines. It is 11 people. And 11 people I trust are my teammates. So to me, that’s the most important thing.”