One thing on Jordan Suell’s off-season to-do list as a professional football player is getting a new batch of receiver gloves.
That’s because Suell gladly gave all his game-worn gloves away to kids and fans postgame of the United States Football League’s championship game July 3. Fans also waited patiently for an autograph from the 2015 Fort Vancouver High graduate after his big game for the Philadelphia Stars to close out the first season of the rebooted spring professional football league.
He even ran back into the locker room at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, to retrieve more gloves despite a 33-30 loss to the Birmingham Stallions.
“It’s a good feeling to know that people care about you,” Suell said, “and want your autograph.”
Suell is now back in Vancouver, giving his body a brief rest before resuming workouts to keep the professional football ambitions going. Reflecting on his first season in the USFL, the 25-year-old is grateful for the opportunities given and being able to showcase his talents at receiver.
Suell was the Stars’ leading receiver with 37 catches for 379 yards and three touchdowns. In the championship game he had five catches on five targets for 66 yards and two touchdowns, plus a two-point conversion reception.
“I was ready,” he said. “Our offense, we had a lot of guys who can make plays, so you just have to be ready whenever your number is called. That day, my number was called a few times and it ended up being the best game of the season. So I think that was pretty cool.”
In high school, Suell was a multi-sport athlete. He played quarterback and safety on struggling Fort football teams, yet blossomed in college at wide receiver at the only school who seriously recruited him — NAIA Southern Oregon.
In fact, he still draws on experiences from Fort and Southern Oregon when on the field. The main one? Proving it doesn’t matter where you go to high school or where you play in college, because you can make your football dreams happen.
And Suell is proof of that … as he looks to get a new batch of receiver gloves.
“I’m another small-school guy compared to all the other guys in the USFL,” he said. “If you’ve got the talent, and you’ve got the dedication, you can take it as far as you want.”
Suell said he wasn’t sure what to expect of the USFL’s revival after playing two seasons in The Spring League, a football developmental league. But from the start of training camp, Suell was in for big changes signing with a league that first existed from 1983-85. He learned he was selected in the 14th round in February’s USFL draft while working at the Adidas employee store in Portland.
“It was a great experience,” he said, “and just another stepping stone in my career. This league felt like an actual pro atmosphere and I really enjoyed that.
“Right from the get-go, it was a good experience. And throughout the season, being with Philadelphia, it was a great experience being with my teammates.”
He also was reunited with head coach Bart Andrus, who coached Suell in The Spring League. All eight USFL teams played their regular seasons in two stadiums in Birmingham, Alabama.
Suell spent training camp in a hotel before sharing a nearby apartment with other teammates. The USFL organized team rooms and weight-room space at a Birmingham hotel, meaning chances were high of running into players from other teams.
“You saw your competition every day,” Suell said.
Philadelphia went 6-4 in the regular season and reached the semifinals and championship game — both played at the site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He and his teammates also toured the Hall of Fame site, and gained inspiration from past Super Bowl rings, the bust gallery and other storied artifacts of football history.
It’s all part of a football experience Suell hopes is just the beginning. In 2021, he had free-agent invitee workouts with the NFL’s New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. He said he often thinks where he’d be if it weren’t for The Spring League and USFL giving players like him opportunities to play on a national stage.
The USFL is scheduled to return in 2023.