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Hamlett, ’stache ready for the season

SEATTLE – Training camp is a grind. It’s all football, all the time.

So, every now and then, players do something to mix things up.

For Connor Hamlett, his change of pace was to grow a truly epic mustache that even NFL quarterback Gardner Minshew would appreciate.

He started it a few seasons ago and has brought the tradition to the XFL as a tight end with the Seattle Dragons.

“It’s something I just did for training camp the last couple of years, especially last year,” Hamlett said.

Last season, when he was playing for the Arizona Hot Shots in the AAF, Hamlett and teammate Richard Mullaney – they were also teammates at Oregon State – decided they would both make training camp ’stache season.

“We decided to do it and got some good feedback from my teammates, some good, some bad,” Hamlett said. “Now it’s kind of just a thing I do every training camp and I think I’m just going to keep it all season now.”

He’s started to get so comfortable with the mustache, it might just become a permanent facial feature.

“We’ll see where it leads,” he said with a laugh after a practice last week.

The mustache might not stick, but Hamlett has found a new football home in Seattle, the one place he has always wanted to play.

After playing high school football at Meadowdale in Lynnwood, his professional career has finally brought him closer to his family.

“It’s been great,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to play professional sports out here, obviously being from here. Every other team I’ve been on has been far away. It’s been awesome and it’s a great opportunity. I get to play pro football in my hometown.”

With two young children, Sofia, 22 months old, and John, a one-month-old, days off during the season are for family time with the kids and his wife, Julia.

“It’s been nice,” he said. “I can help out my wife, be with my family a little more than I could last year, for example.

“It was hard for my wife, and hard for me, to be away from my daughter (last season), but there’s a lot of family around here that are able to help out, so now it’s nice I can work, play football and stay in Seattle.”

With the XFL starting just in time for him to continue his football career in his hometown, this season has been an ideal situation on and off the field.   

“The thing about leagues like this, it’s a bunch of guys in the same position,” he said. They’re all just trying to get better and get another shot. It’s fun, because everyone is getting paid the same. We’re just playing football, playing hard. That’s the fun part about it.”

Before being drafted by the Dragons back in October, Hamlett was working a sales job for a company called Popmenu that markets itself as a “customer engagement engine for restaurants.”

“I just wanted to get a little experience, because all my other jobs have been – football player,” Hamlett. “It’s fun. They’re really flexible, cool with me doing this. Where it goes from here, we’ll see what happens, but it was good to get that non-football experience.”

But, while he was able to get a little experience off the field this year, his resume still leads with football player, something he didn’t expect when he was in high school.

Back then, Hamlett was more focused on a different sport

“I was more of a basketball guy in high school,” said Hamlett, who is 6-foot-9. “That was my main sports. Senior year, I started getting recruited to play football.”

He started to realized his athletic future was on the football field. So, he went to Oregon State and then started his professional career as an undrafted free agent with Jacksonville in 2015.

He spent time with five NFL teams before playing for the Hot Shots last season. Each opportunity a chance to continue a career that brought him back home.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “Whether it’s NFL, AAF or XFL, it’s just great to still be playing.”