Jay Barker, who quarterbacked Alabama to a college football
national championship in 1992, has been signed to an XFL contract
by the Birmingham Thunderbolts. Barker reported to training
camp in time for two practices Sunday.
Just to have the chance to play again at Legion Field is
exciting. I dont think Ive ever lost a game there, Barker
said. Its also going to be great to play at home in front
of friends and family.
At first I was a little skeptical about the XFL, about whether
it would be legitimate football because of the ties to the
WWF, Barker said, but (Bolts general manager) Tim Berryman
and Coach (Gerry) DiNardo made me feel comfortable and assured
me that the football is real.
Barker, a Birmingham native, played the last three seasons
for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
After playing in 36 regular season and two playoff games for
the Argonauts in 1998 and 1999, Barkers playing time was
limited due to injuries in 2000.
Over a three-year CFL career, Barker completed 269 of 472
passing attempts for 3,433 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was
intercepted 19 times.
I plan to play the XFL season and return to Toronto for the
CFL season, Barker said. It will be such a positive from
an exposure standpoint getting to play in the XFL and in the
United States. The leagues tie with NBC is very much a positive.
A fifth-round selection by the Green Bay Packers in 1995,
Barker also logged time in the NFL with the New England Patriots
and the Carolina Panthers before heading to the CFL.
Barker won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which goes
annually to the top senior collegiate quarterback in the nation
and was also the Southeastern Conference player of the Year
in 1994. He led Alabama to a 34-2-1 record as the starter
for the Crimson Tide, including a 22-game win streak from
The Thunderbolts did not have to release a player to make
room for Barker. Birmingham has been a quarterback short in
camp since Jon Nielsen decided not to report..