Wide receiver Kris Durham has been out of the NFL since 2015, but he found a way to keep playing football the past two years.
According to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com, Durham has been playing American Football for the Parma Panthers in Italy.
Durham was contacted on a whim through facebook by team owner Ugo Bonvicini to see if he’d have any interest in playing for his club. Bonvicini reached out to Durham not knowing that he’d spent four seasons in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders.
“I can assure you that if I knew he was the real Kris Durham I never write to him,” Bonvicini said. “Of course, who is so stupid to call an NFL player after four years contract to come here? It was impossible. No. So I didn’t know who he was.”
However, Durham was interested in playing in Europe with the ability to see a new culture in the process so he agreed to play. He spent the last two years playing for the Panthers – a team that only pays anything at all to its American players – and it rekindled his love of football.
“In the NFL, it’s a business,” Durham said. “You can be on one team one week and another team another week. Here, you’re here. You’re part of the team. You’re part of the brotherhood. It definitely brought me back to the sense and the love of the game.”
Durham became the equivalent of Julio Jones, Antonio Brown or Calvin Johnson in Parma. He caught 46 passes for 944 yards and 11 touchdowns, scored on a punt return and threw a touchdown pass as well last season. Durham caught 55 passes for 699 yards and three touchdowns in the 27 career games he played in the NFL.
Durham’s time in Italy has run its course and he’s hanging up his helmet and cleats after two years with Parma, but it’s an experience he thoroughly enjoyed.
“You experience life and experience culture and see things and visit places and get to be a part of things that are so different,” Durham said. “So much different than the U.S. and American football in my head, it’s a different experience.”