Green Bay Press Gazette
By Weston Hodkiewicz
May 7, 2009
ASHWAUBENON — After failing to receive a contract offer from the Detroit Lions following rookie camp last May, quarterback Mark Nicolet received a phone call.
It wasn’t another NFL team. It wasn’t even a team from the Arena Football League or arenafootball2.
Calling for Nicolet was the nine-time Swedish national champion Stockholm Mean Machines.
Stockholm knew relatively nothing about Nicolet beside the impressive numbers he put up at Division II Hillsdale College, where he shattered seven school records his senior year in 2007 en route to Great Lakes Conference player of the year honors.
Following a one-game stint with af2’s Tulsa Talons as an emergency backup, Nicolet accepted the offer and made his first trip overseas.
“From what they told me, the hardest part they have is just getting a guy to say yes,” said Nicolet, the only American on the Stockholm team last year.
“There’s plenty of good quarterbacks graduating out of college. It’s just the matter of trying to find a guy that’s willing to spend three to six months in another country.”
Earning 1,000 euros, or around $1,400 to $1,600, a month, Nicolet played seven games for the Mean Machines and led them to their 10th national title.
He was invited back this season but decided to return to the United States in hopes of getting a look from North American teams.
With the cancellation of the AFL season, Nicolet found his way to af2 and the Green Bay Blizzard, where he began the season as the backup to incumbent Gino Guidugli.
With Guidugli sidelined because of a pulled groin muscle, Nicolet received his first af2 start last Friday in a 56-28 rout of Milwaukee. He threw for 175 yards, passed for a pair of touchdowns and ran for another score.
The game didn’t come without its hitches. The Blizzard struggled near the goal line and settled for five field goals within 30 yards.
But given it was his first start, Blizzard coach Bob Landsee was pleased with the 23-year-old Nicolet.
“I think Mark did a great job,” Landsee said. “It’s like with any rookie quarterback, he’s nervous as all getup. But once he settled down, he did a good job.”
Landsee wasn’t sure whether Guidugli would be available for today’s home game against Iowa (3-3), but he was confident in Nicolet’s ability to lead Green Bay (3-2) if needed.
Nicolet said he will be ready.
“It’s about knowing you have to be ready whether you’re starting or you’re coming in — if that’s what needs to happen,” he said. “Either way, you have to be ready to go and taking the same mentality because that could be your only opportunity. You have to be ready, week in and week out.”