Warsaw Eagles QB #5 Shazzon Mumphrey directing traffic downfield with OL Renaldas Macevicius #67 and OL Igor Ganinski #69 ready to help Photo: Warsaw Eagles
When the Warsaw Eagles took the field for the first time in 2021, they didn’t exactly get the result they were hoping for.
A comedy of errors resulted in a 41-3 drubbing at the hands of the Tychy Falcons and as quarterback Shazzon Mumphrey recalls, the contest was out of reach in a hurry.
“In the blink of an eye, it was 20 to zero. We only had like seven plays of offense at that point and the other team had only been on offense for like five plays,” he says shaking his head. “I don’t know if guys were overwhelmed or if it was just jitters or what.”
It was the kind of outing that might have most writing off Poland’s oldest football team, but Mumphrey doesn’t see it that way. After all, the athletic pivot knows that the path to achieving your potential isn’t always a direct one. The native of Louisville, Kentucky wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for a few bumps in the road.
Mumphrey began his college career in the JuCo ranks before signing with Florida A&M. After struggling to crack the lineup, he transferred to the University of New Haven as a junior and started a pair of games under center before being asked to transition to wide receiver his senior year.
It was an unsatisfying end to his collegiate experience and an awkward fit for Mumphrey.
“I had never played another position in my life until then. When I was coming out and I was doing these pro days and combines and things, I didn’t really have a position. I was working out for multiple things and it just felt unnatural to me to be playing wide receiver,” he remembers. “When I got the opportunity to come to Europe and play quarterback, I just felt like I was back in my regular element.”
That opportunity first came as an mid-season injury replacement for Denmark’s Triangle Razorbacks in 2017. He jumped on to the field for the first time less than a week after arriving and with just one practice under his belt, helping guide the team to the Danish semi-finals.
“It was insane. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know much about how things worked in Europe yet,” Mumphrey says.
In the four years since, he’s become much more acclimatized to that unique style of football and is a better quarterback because of it. Successful stints with Germany’s Hildesheim Invaders and Sweden’s Carlstad Crusaders saw him originally sign with the Geneva Seahawks in 2021, but after that team was forced to go without imports, he quickly dropped everything to come to Warsaw.
With an extremely young team around him with the Eagles, all eager to learn, Mumphrey shoulders the responsibility placed upon many imports: to be the driving force of the team, on and off the field. That’s something that he hasn’t experienced since his days at Waggener High School in Louisville.
“It’s a huge adjustment. It’s a lot different than being surrounded by 11 scholarship guys,” Mumphrey says of the import role. “Although there’s some good football players, it’s different and that’s something that I tell people all the time about playing in Europe. It’s hard because you go from being a guy in college to being the guy and your role is just that much bigger when you’re an American import in a league where you’re only allowed one or two Americans on the field at the same time.”
While he may be the guy for Eagles, he’s not completely alone. Defensive back Darrain Winston will prove to be a difference-maker and the young group in Warsaw have all the tools to be a top team with just a few small adjustments.
“I think going forward what we need to focus on, and what we have focused on since the loss, is just the mental aspect of the game and minimizing our mistakes,” Mumphrey explains. “Physical mistakes are going to happen because it’s football, but if we can minimize the mental mistakes, the penalties, the not having the right personnel on the field and just sticking to your assignment and knowing your job on certain plays, then I think we’ll be solid going forward.”
With those adjustments in place, Mumphrey expects a much different team to show up in their next test against the Bydgoszcz Archers and places no limit on what the team could accomplish.
“We have tons of potential. We’ve got some talented guys, we’ve got a really good coach and everybody works really hard. I’m very optimistic about how the rest of the season could go.”