The only NFL player left from the defunct XFL, Lenon has taken on
a bit of a "Last of the Mohicans" notoriety in the buildup to
Sunday's Super Bowl where the Broncos will take on the Seattle
Seahawks at a frigid MetLife Stadium.
"I don't think it sunk in to the point at all," Lenon told
reporters. "I think you have to appreciate every year you're in this
league and not to make light of this situation at all, but first of
all, you appreciate the position that you are in being a
"This is an added bonus to be in the biggest game."
The 36-year-old's path to the NFL's championship game reads more
like a Super Bowl odyssey than a road map, an epic journey that has
spanned continents and forgotten leagues.
From working in a mailroom at the U.S. Postal Service, to NFL
Europe, the XFL and eight NFL teams over 14 seasons, the undrafted
Lenon has paid his dues.
The brainchild of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) impresario
Vince McMahon, the XFL had a brief but colorful one-year run before
disappearing as quickly as it had appeared.
The Amsterdam Admirals and NFL Europe are also now part of the
gridiron graveyard but Lenon's career lives on.
"I've been hearing a lot of that (being the last XFLer)," smiled
Lenon. "I think it's a cool story, but other than that, I don't
really think about it that much."
Days away from playing for football's ultimate prize, Lenon was once
considered the NFL's ultimate loser, part of a Detroit Lions team
that went the entire 2008 regular season without winning a game.
Lenon started all 16 games for the Lions in that dreadful campaign
and says he is better for the experience.
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"When you go through difficult situations it makes you stronger,"
said Lenon. "If you can withstand tough times, it will make you a
"It's very frustrating to not have success. We're in this game to
win. Anybody who is playing a sport, you are in it to be a winner.
"If you are a professional, then you are going about your day and
your job to the best of your ability regardless of the situation.
"That's the way I approached it and that's the way I have always
If misery really does love company, Lenon has had plenty.
Teammate center Manny Ramirez, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff
Avril and Lenon all share a special bond having suffered through the
winless Lions season together.
"That's the first thing I thought about (going 0-16)," said Avril,
one of the NFL's top pass rushers. "I learned that I never want to
go 0-16 again.
"I learned that, me personally, I have to keep working hard and not
be the reason why we are losing.
Rookie year I didn't win any games, and then five, six years later
I'm at the big show and hopefully about to win it."
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto;
editing by Frank Pingue)
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