When Rick Neuheisel brought up UCLA having to face a pair of future NFL first-round draft choices in consecutive weeks in Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Houston’s Case Keenum — a game-time decision according to the Houston Chronicle after suffering a mild concussion against UTEP — it allowed the former Bruins quarterback to wax nostalgic about one of his first NFL quarterbacking experiences while speaking Friday at the Pasadena Quarterbacks Club luncheon at Brookside Country Club in Pasadena.
After graduating from UCLA, Neuheisel played for San Antonio Gunslingers in the old USFL, when he received a phone call from the Green Bay Packers offering him a tryout.
Neuheisel, born in Madison, Wisconsin, and a lifelong Packers fan, arrived the morning of the tryout and threw one slant pass that resulted in an unnamed free-agent receiver suffering a broken finger.
“It was a perfect pass,” Neuheisel said.
The tryout was cut short until later in the afternoon, with Neuheisel touring the Packers Hall of Fame museum in the interim. When he returned to the indoor facility for the second workout, a Packers assistant had told him “they’d seen enough” and that he “wasn’t exactky what they were looking for.”
The 6-foot-1 Neuheisel, in disbelief after throwing just one pass, was told by the Packers that they expected him to be a “taller 6-1.”
Instead of staying the rest of the day at the Green Bay Packers Ramada Inn, Neuheisel had lunch courtesy of the franchise before leaving on a flight out of Wisconsin later that night. Although he never had future contact with the Packers, he did split the 1987 season with the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It was that learning experience that allowed Neuheisel to be patient with St. Francis coach and former Hart quarterback Jim Bonds — also a speaker Friday at the Quarterbacks Club luncheon — when Neuheisel was his quarterbacks coach at UCLA in 1988 and ’89, and has allowed him to be patient with Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut the past two seasons.
“We’re going to get there,” Neuheisel said. “I just hope I’m around to see it when it happens.”