Hundon will enjoy off-season after ArenaBowl XVIII
SAN JOSE, Calif. (June 22, 2004) - Now that he has touched four professional football leagues, James Hundon feels he has come full circuit with all levels of the game he loves. "I have no regrets about my career," said Hundon, who played 15 games in the Canadian Football League following the 2003 San Jose SaberCats season.
"I've played in four professional leagues and finally won a championship in one of them (SaberCats in 2002)," he said while preparing for the Arena Football League's title game, ArenaBowl XVIII against the Arizona Rattlers, Sunday, June 27. "That's what you always play for.the championships."
Hundon began as a pro after an outstanding career at Portland State University. With the Cincinnati Bengals in the National Football League, he played in 36 games in four seasons. His best year was in 1997 when he played in all 16 games and caught 16 balls, two for touchdowns.
In 2001, he played with the San Francisco Demons of the defunct XFL as a receiver and punt and kickoff return specialist. That same year he came to the SaberCats and made an instant impact with 45 catches, 15 for scores, in only six games. The following year (2002) he helped San Jose to its first ArenaBowl championship.
At 33, Hundon has no regrets if his career was to end tomorrow. "I've enjoyed it all," he said, sitting out a pair of 'Cats' games because of a bruised kidney. "I had played in 43 consecutive games until this injury; I'll just be glad for an 'entire' off-season where I can relax. Not taking the time off, and going to Canada, takes a toll on you."
But Hundon feels he's got a lot of football left. He figures another couple years with San Jose and then he'll devote his full attention to his job as a counselor at Hillcrest Juvenile Hall. "We'll have a new facility in 2006," he said, "so, that will be the time to leave the game."
Hundon said he went to Canada to see if he could still play on the 'big field.' "It definitely was a lot of fun on the big field because it is a wide open game." He got to Canada because his agent recommended him and he knew some people in the CFL. He started with the Toronto Argonauts, starting 5 games before, he moved to the Calgary Stampeders where he played 10 games to finish the season.
"That three downs (instead of 4 in American rules) makes the game a lot faster," he explained. "There certainly is a lot of passing. You would throw on first down, because that is really second in the U.S. There also is a good running game in Canada."
With Calgary he caught 17 passes but also returned 19 kickoffs, one for 103 yards on the larger CFL field.
"There are some very good Canadian players," said the San Francisco native, who was considered an "import" which the CFL considers in its limitations of players from the U.S. "The secondary and skill positions have the most 'imports' because of experience and speed. Linemen and linebackers tended to be mostly Canadian players."
Hundon enjoyed his stay up north, especially in Toronto. "Very nice people in Canada and in Toronto alone they speak 236 languages. Culturally, there are people from all over the world there and food from every country."
For diversity, Hundon, who had never been out of the United States, thought the experience was well worth his time, despite having to play football and limit his site seeing. "The next time, I definitely will go back as a tourist," he said. "And, I'm glad to have a real off season this year."
That is, after his job in ArenaBowl XVIII is completed against the Arizona team.
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