Nine-year National Football League veteran Guido Merkens saw the highs and the lows of professional football in the late 1970s and 1980s.
And he saw a lot from many different vantage points on the football field.
Merkens played all or part of three seasons (1978-80) with the “Luv Ya Blue” Houston Oilers teams, joined the moribund New Orleans Saints for the end of the 1980 season and played there through 1985 and then ended his career with a three-game replacement stint with the 1987 Philadelphia Eagles.
He displayed A11 Football League-style versatility early, playing quarterback and defensive back in college at Sam Houston State before making the Oilers as an undrafted free agent. With the Oilers, Merkens played 31 games and caught four passes, returned 15 punts, returned two kickoffs and recovered a fumble – all while playing wide receiver, punt returner, defensive back and emergency quarterback.
Then in New Orleans, Merkens’ roles increased. In 1982, he started a game at quarterback, and threw 52 passes overall in 74 games with the Saints. Merkens also caught 32 passes, ran 13 times, returned a punt, returned three kickoffs, punted four times and recovered four fumbles in New Orleans as a safety/quarterback/wide receiver/special teamer.
Merkens’ final three games came during the NFL’s strangest period in its near 100-year history. He went from serving as the Eagles’ No. 2 quarterback and also as a part-time punter in their first 1987 replacement game to ending up with a special teams tackle in their final strike game as a gunner on the kickoff team.
A11FL teams would be wise to stock up on Guido Merkens-type players – NFL-quality players who can fill in at a number of spots. And if they do, they will look to be as good as the “Luv Ya Blue” Oilers, and not as bad as the old-school “Aints.”