CHARLOTTE -- For a couple of quarterbacks who might owe their careers to the now-defunct NFL Europe, neither Carolina's Jake Delhomme nor Dallas' Brad Johnson seem to advocate future prospects needing passports.
The two share a pedigree of having waited for a chance, then getting it first overseas. Along with Kurt Warner and John Kitna, they're the poster boys for the developmental program first known as the World League of American Football, which was scrapped by the NFL after this spring because it was an economic sinkhole.
Johnson scoffed when asked if going abroad helped, saying only luck kept it from wrecking him.
"The year I went, they sent 19 guys over there, and only three of us survived without getting hurt," Johnson said.
He was better off being able to stay home and spend the offseason with the team trying to groom him. Delhomme sort of concurred, but was quick to hail the spring he spent in Amsterdam (as well as the year backing up Warner there) for getting him to the point he's at now.
"It's hard when you're not with your team in the offseason program," Delhomme said. "But the flip side is, to be able to play when you're not playing, not even getting time in preseason, you can't coach that. Especially running two-minute and things like that. That's what I took out of it more than anything, just managing the game."
Delhomme said he wished the league would do something to create a similar situation for kid quarterbacks, since the problem of finding them's never been more widespread. When Troy Smith lines up for Baltimore Sunday, he'll be the 61st different starter in the league this year, with just 12 teams using one all season.
Delhomme advocates a plan which requires teams to keep three, since 13 teams came out of final cuts with just two this year.
"Without Europe, I wish you'd make it where you have to have three quarterbacks on the roster, or keep a 54th player who has to be a minimum guy so you can develop guys," Delhomme said. "Or maybe a ninth guy on the practice squad. That's something I wish they could do, just so you could be around and see it. Your practice reps would be very limited, but that's part of it."
Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said it would be hard to get owners to approve expanding rosters, but those who know what it takes to play the position agree that the loss of NFL Europe will leave a void of opportunity for kids like Johnson, Delhomme, Warner, Kitna and others.
"It's sad to see that league go away for good," long-time quarterback guru Jerry Rhome said. "But they were looking at their pocketbooks when they were deciding if it was worth it."