Updated: Oct 19, 2021
From showing up for a try out on a random baseball field then eventually signing a contract and not hearing any response for a month, to showing up again for a sketchy training camp, John Yaple had all the red flags that eventually left his effort and excitement to play with a national and professional football league to fall to nothing.
After dropping out of college football, Yaple already knew that he would probably not be experiencing playing in the National Football League.
However, he did not let that end his dream of playing football professionally. Yaple relied on doing his own research about opportunities related to football; this led him to find out about the National Gridiron League (NGL).
“It was new, never really heard of it [so] I looked into it through their website and I’ve seen [it] pretty legit,” he said in the 56th episode of The Globally Ballin Podcast.
He eventually learned that an NGL team in his area, Pennsylvania Pioneers, would be holding a try out, so he made his preparations to go. He showed up an hour and a half early to warm up, but he was stunned that it was not what he was initially expecting.
“We had this supposable professional arena try out in a park baseball field – a random field,” he said.
He and three other guys started the drills after a coach arrived an hour and a half late and introduced himself. At the end, they learned that he and one other guy made the cut and were given the contract a few days after the tryout.
After signing and sending back the contract, Yaple's excitement led him to look forward to that first snap in the NGL. However, he was not able to receive any response from the league or the team for a month.
It was only during Christmas time in December where he received an email telling him that their training camp will start in January. He was quite shocked by this seemingly-last-minute and the fast-approaching training camp; he had to rush in conditioning his body to make sure he was fully prepared for camp.
On the day of the training camp, they reported to a hotel as instructed, but neither the majority of the other players nor any team staff members were there and Yaple and at least one other player were left sitting around the lobby for hours trying to call the league office and coaches. However, these calls were to no avail; no one was answering and the lines were dead.
The whole situation seemed to be more and more "sketchy," but they shrugged it off thinking that the camp might happen at the hotel’s dome. When they tested this theory by talking to the hotel staff, the officer told them that early in September, there was a guy who inquired about renting the dome for that weekend, but there were no follow-ups or contracts signed.
Eventually, they went home to their own towns, dumbfounded.
“[I did] more research, but they keep updating the [league] website which is blowing my mind,” he stated.
Through his research, he learned that the Pioneers were being relocated to Pittsburgh and also found out that more players had the same experience as his with different teams in the league.
“Obviously, I think we’re scammed,” he said as there were no updates right after he signed the contract. While he has tried to send them emails, he always receives generated email responses.
Currently, John Yaple is playing in a non-paid 8-man league but admitted that he’s in his best situation in life right now.
“It’s keeping me in shape, I can’t make a living out of it, I’m not [getting] paid, and I have a full-time job but it’s better than nothing,” he said.
“Learn from me, do your research, find a league that’s established and just keep grinding and you’ll make it,” he added.
Globally Ballin is currently doing its best to locate other athletes who have gotten the same experience as John Yaple. In addition, we have reached out to the NGL for a response to help gather clarification, but have yet to hear back.
This piece was written by Carla Molina, a common contributor for Globally Ballin check out the link below to see all the articles by Carla Molina that revisit past episodes of the network in bring the story of the guests to article form as well.