Aug. 3, 2005
Former Cal offensive lineman John Giesel has committed to play a season of football for the Japanese X-League. Competing for the IBM Big Blue, Giesel will primarily play offensive line and may be called upon to play defensive line on occasion in addition to lending his skills as a coach.
"I got a call right after graduation from Pete Alamar (Cal's tight ends/special teams coach), and he had just received a call from the IBM coach David Stant, who was looking for an offensive lineman," Giesel said via email from Japan. "I decided that I would check it out. They flew me to Japan to see what it was like. I enjoyed my stay and looked forward to such a unique opportunity and decided to go for it."
Giesel and Chad Kapanui, who played linebacker for Hawaii and also graduated in the spring, are the only Americans on the IBM Big Blue squad, while David Stant, a former Hawaii player, is the head coach of the team. It is the first year that the X-League has allowed American players to compete.
"It is an exciting opportunity, and already I have experienced so much of Japan," Giesel said. "My coaches and teammates are very gracious and have been very kind in helping me get adjusted to the different lifestyle."
The X-League is Japan's professional football league and is made up of 18 corporate owned teams. Competitors are professional players, paid to play on company time. The IBM Big Blue opens play in September against the Nissan team. The season culminates in the championship game, which will be held on Jan. 2.