Louis Nzegwu’s professional football career has taken many twists and turns in the past two and a half years, but the final chapter of the former Platteville High School standout’s football story has yet to be written.
In a career that has had three stops in the NFL, a brief one-game stint in the Canadian Football League and two different go arounds in the Arena Football, Nzegwu is tackling his latest challenge in the new FXFL — a four-team minor league that has high hopes of being the NFL’s developmental league.
Last Thursday Nzegwu started at defensive end for the Omaha Mammoths and recorded three tackles and a sack in a 41–18 victory over the Boston Brawlers in the league’s inaugural game.
“I first heard about the FXFL back in July,” said Nzegwu in a text. “I got called up for a workout with the New Orleans Saints and their scout mentioned the league to me over the phone. So I talked to my agent about it and he called me about a month later and told me I had been assigned to the league’s Nebraska-based team.
“The league is in its very early stages at the moment, but their goal is to have a partnership with the NFL and make the FXFL a minor league/D league similar to the minor leagues or D leagues that the MLB and NBA have.”
The FXFL has four teams, Nzegwu’s Omaha Mammoths, the Boston Brawlers, the Brooklyn Bolts and the Blacktips, a team as of now without a home.
The league will play a six-game round-robin schedule in October and November with games played during the week.
The league has the exact same rules as the NFL, but is also an experimental league as well, meaning any rules the NFL is thinking about changing would get implemented in the FXFL first.
The leagues stated goal is to give young football players on the fringe of the NFL a chance to continue their careers without having to go to Canada or play in the Arena Football league awaiting another chance to play on the next level.
“After playing in the first game I think the talent level is below the NFL, but better than college which is what you’d expect from a league just starting up,” said Nzegwu. “I believe as things get more situated and controlled there will be more talented players coming in and out of the league.”
“As far as practices go, they are really laid back and we work on more of the mental aspect of the game,” he added. “They are trying to keep up as healthy as possible so when an NFL team does call us up we’d be in shape.”
NFL rosters are limited to 53 active players and 10 players on a practice squad. But with the numbers of injuries in professional football over the course of a 16-game NFL season a number of roster spots become available throughout the season.
The FXFL hopes to provided healthy, in shape players when injuries occur.
And Nzegwu is looking for another shot in the NFL.
Nzegwu was a highly recruited athlete that graduated from Platteville in 2007. He ultimately chose to stay in state and play for Wisconsin, where he was a two-year starter and scored a touchdown in the 2012 Rose Bowl loss to Oregon.
He finished his college career with the Badgers with 100 total tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks.
Nzegwu signed as an undrafted free agent by the Atlanta Falcons in April of 2012 and went through training camp before being cut on the final round of cuts on Aug. 27. He was signed to the Miami Dolphins practice squad later in the 2012 season, but released after a week.
In 2013, Nzegwu earned a invitation to mini-camp with the Carolina Panthers and preformed well enough to go to training camp. He played well in the 2013 preseason recording three sacks, but was later released.
This past summer Nzegwu spent time in the Arena Football League as well a week in Canada.
He began his indoor football career playing four games with the Arizona Rattlers, before being signed by the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
He left the Blue Bombers in July to come back for a workout with the New Orleans Saints, then later signed with the Clevenland Gladiators for the final five games of the season.
Nzegwu and Cleveland ultimately reached the Arena Bowl — the Super Bowl of the Arena League — before suffering a 72–32 loss to Arizona, Nzegwu’s former team.