|Wednesday, March 5
Updated: March 24, 3:58 PM ET
Flutie and Landeta the last of the USFL players
By Greg Garber
"A little cardio, stretched a little, lifted some," Landeta said. "Jumped in the cold tub, trying to keep the legs fresh."
He lives on Long Island, but he comes down to Philadelphia once a week for a little off-season exercise. This is where it all started for him 20 years ago with the Philadelphia Stars. He still remembers the first game.
"We were at Denver and I remember how excited I was to be there," Landeta said. "I was a kid out of college, so you're young and living the dream you'd had since you were a kid. I think I averaged 45 yards on six punts, a good day."
Landeta and San Diego Chargers quarterback Doug Flutie are the last surviving players from the USFL. Landeta, preparing for his 22 professional season -- he played two in 1985 when he kicked for both the Stars and the New York Giants -- is the longest-tenured punter in NFL history and holds a handful of records, including best gross average and total punts.
Flutie, 40, has played for eight professional teams and thrown for 56,777 yards in 19 seasons. He is one of five quarterbacks to throw for more than 50,00 yards -- the others: Warren Moon, Dan Marino, John Elway and Ron Lancaster of the CFL.
After playing the 1985 season for the New Jersey Generals, Flutie moved to Chicago of the NFL, then New England before joining the CFL. There, he was named the CFL's Most Outstanding Player an unprecedented six times in eight seasons and led his teams to three Grey Cup titles.
"I had no idea then I could last this long," Flutie told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last fall. "When I made it to 30 years old and I was still playing football, I was pretty fired up. I figured that was good. With all of those great players in the USFL, I wouldn't have believed I'd be one of the last two."
Flutie is expected to return to back up Drew Brees in San Diego. He completed only 3 of 11 passes last year in a single appearance at Buffalo. Landeta, who tore a calf muscle and missed the Eagles' last six games, was having a typically productive season, averaging 42.9 yards a punt, only .4 yards shy of his career average. If not in Philadelphia, Landeta believes he will be punting next season for what would be his sixth NFL team.
That's a long way from Deland, Fla., where he was one of five punters competing for the Stars' lone job.
"Everybody punted well, so I was just glad they kept me," Landeta said. "I got a $5,000 signing bonus and a contract for $35,000."
Landeta has known Flutie for years, but said he doesn't feel a special bond.
"He's a great player and a great person," Landeta said, "but I don't think about that. We've been lucky. You do your part and prepare and play well enough to be kept, but there are people good enough to be playing that aren't. That's just how it works.
"For me, it was a great league. I was just glad I could play in it."
Greg Garber is a senior writer at ESPN.com.