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Odom named USFL’s top defender

by Mitchell Gladstone | June 23, 2022 at 2:15 a.m.

Chris Odom hasn't lacked football opportunities since his Arkansas State career ended in 2016.

The 6-4, 262-pound defensive end had played for five teams across three different leagues, including a seven-game stint with the Green Bay Packers in 2017.

Now 27, Odom didn't know how many more shots he'd get.

Odom was rewarded for his impressive season in the United States Football League's spring relaunch as he was named its Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday. Odom led the league with 12.5 sacks and totaled 43 tackles to go along with 6 forced fumbles in 10 games.

Even more impressive, Odom blocked four field goals as a member of the Houston Gamblers' special-teams unit, one of which led to a 77-yard touchdown return in the team's season finale.

"I just wanted to take advantage of my next opportunity ... and simply make the best of it," Odom said. "Same goal, just change the outcome."

Odom acknowledged he was stung by a challenging two-year stretch.

He'd signed with the Atlanta Falcons in April 2019 but was waived before the start of the season. The Arlington, Texas, native then joined Washington's practice squad and was promoted for the final five games before being released again.

After the pandemic-limited opportunities in 2020, Odom inked a deal with the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders. He dressed out for three games and spent five-plus months away from his family.

Being nearly 2,000 miles from a father who'd just undergone a heart transplant and 2-year-old daughter Cassie, who suffers from brittle bone disease wasn't something Odom wanted to do again.

Even though his family couldn't travel to Birmingham, Ala. -- the site of all of the USFL's games -- Odom was unmissable on the field, wearing bright yellow cleats in honor of Cassie and to raise awareness for osteogenesis imperfecta.

There's a sense Odom will get another NFL chance, although some details need to get sorted out with the USFL before Odom and others will be released from their current contracts ahead of the start of NFL training camp.

Odom returned to Dallas on Tuesday, where he'll spend time with his family and train while crossing his fingers on that next NFL call.

"That's what I'm chasing," Odom said. "I've been on both sides of the spectrum. I've been in there, I know what it's like, but I've also been out of there, sitting on the couch wishing that I had that opportunity to be back on Sundays.

"This makes me more determined just to get back into it."

Print Headline: Odom named USFL’s top defender


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