Paul Justin: A World of Experience

Paul Justin in Colts camp

In 1995, when the internet was young, I was a sports reporter for WRTV-TV in Indianapolis, Indiana and covered the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. In addition to my normal TV duties, I was also putting regular team news and updates online in a rudimentary website, what you’d recognize today as a blog. Those files survive, and I’m reproducing them here from time to time for posterity.

Anderson, Ind.: Paul Justin has thrown professional passes in five different countries; this season, he might finally add a sixth: the United States.

Justin, who spent the 1994 season on the Colts’ practice squad, spent early 1995 quarterbacking the Frankfurt Galaxy of the World League of American Football. It was Justin’s first real playing time since his senior year at Arizona State in 1990.

“It gave me valuable experience,” Justin reflected just after reporting to camp in Anderson. “You can never substitute for actual playing time.”

Paul Justin headshot
Colts quarterback Paul Justin in 1995.
Justin’s playing time in Frankfurt increased when starter Jim Miller went down with a knee injury early in the 10-week WLAF season. Justin took over and led the Galaxy from a 1-3 start to a 6-1 finish and a berth in the third World Bowl against the Amsterdam Admirals. He led the league in passing, throwing for 2,394 yards and 17 touchdowns with 12 interceptions, and impressing Colts Coach Ted Marchibroda from half a world away.

“I thought in viewing all the film, that he performed better in every ballgame,” allowed Marchibroda.” And I thought maybe his best ballgames were the last two.”

In the Galaxy’s last regular-season game, with a World Bowl berth at stake, Justin threw for a WLAF record 435 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-20 rout of the Barcelona Dragons in Spain. The next week, in Amsterdam, Justin’s numbers included a World Bowl record 308 passing yards, three more touchdowns, and a 26-22 win over the Admirals.

“It was my first championship in anything,” said Justin.

But the European experience wasn’t always championship-caliber for Justin. The Chicago-area native had trouble adjusting to being far from home and far from American culture and cuisine. “You know, it’s not the United States…it was really hard to get accustomed to the food. I lost maybe 15-20 pounds over there,” said Justin, who’s listed at 202 pounds on the Colts roster.
“I’ve ordered about 10 pizzas the last two weeks.”

Now the question is how big a slice of the quarterback pie Justin will have in this training camp.

“We’ll give Paul work this year,” said Marchibroda.” We have to see exactly what he can do and where he fits into the picture, but we were pleased with what we saw while he was here last year and I think the World League helped him.”

“I hope so,” Justin said.” I know Craig (Erickson) and Jim (Harbaugh) need to work in this offense, too. The system’s a good offense for all of us. Hopefully I do get reps this camp, and when I do, I have to make the best of it.”

2024 Update: Justin started seven games in three years when the Colts were in flux prior to drafting Peyton Manning, and went 3-4 before a trade to Cincinnati in the spring of 1998. He later spent time with Oakland, the Rams (where he was active for but did not see action in Super Bowl XXXIV, which the Rams won), the Cowboys and the Rams again before a torn ACL in 2001 ended his career.

Kenn Tomasch

Kenn Tomasch