Does he resent being in Europe?
"Absolutely not," says Torretta. "This is game action—this is exactly what I need. You've got to remember, I basically haven't played since college."
Drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh round of the 1993 draft, Torretta lasted a season and was cut last August. He languished unemployed until the Detroit Lions signed him as a backup in November after losing starter Scott Mitchell to injury. Since dispatching Torretta to Deutschland, the Lions have signed two quarterbacks: Don Hollas from the Cincinnati Bengals and Don Majkowski from the Indianapolis Colts. He suspects, as many do, that these acquisitions bode ill for him, but he seems to accept them philosophically. "Put yourself in their shoes," he says of the Lions. "They didn't have a backup quarterback with any experience. They feel more comfortable having a vet around."
Torretta's pet peeve about the country in which he is a guest is the native tongue. "I don't like the sound of it," he says. He makes a couple of guttural, throat-clearing noises to demonstrate what he's talking about.
Torretta should consult Frankfurt linebacker Mike Stonebreaker for linguistic tips. Stonebreaker originally had difficulty mastering the German farewell auf Wiedersehen. Now, when it is time to bid a German adieu, he says these words as rapidly as possible: Our feet are the same!
Unfortunately for Stonebreaker, living accommodations aren't the same. The Barcelona Dragons boast the league's sweetest, housed as they are in condos overlooking a topless Catalonian beach, while the London Monarchs occupy an old police barracks 25 minutes outside of town with one shower and one toilet per floor. The Galaxy players are quartered in a hotel in the shadow of the Frankfurt airport. "So," a reporter jokingly inquired of former Akron kicker Daron Alcorn, "a big night out means you guys catch a shuttle over to the airport and cruise the terminals?"
"Actually, yes," he said. "There's a McDonald's over there."
The hotel is not without its attractions. It is usually packed with flight attendants. Says Alcorn, conspiratorially, "Some of them go naked in the sauna."
Which explains why, in addition to having the league's most loyal fans, its top offense and its top-rated quarterback, in allocated Colt Paul Justin, the Galaxy probably leads the league in saunas taken.
It also has one of the league's most talented national players in Olaf Hampel, a 6'6", 310-pound offensive guard from Essen, Germany, who claims he astonished Denver Bronco coaches last spring by leg-pressing 620 pounds 92 times.