Ex-Lions QB Earns UFL Title Game MVP With Dominant Performance

Adrian Martinez

Getty Adrian Martinez throws a pass in a Kansas State game.

Adrian Martinez may have had only a short NFL stint with the Detroit Lions, but has made the most of his time in the UFL with a regular season MVP and now a title-game MVP as well.

Martinez led the Birmingham Stallions to a 25-0 victory over the San Antonio Brahmas in the inaugural United Football League championship on June 16, accounting for all three of his team’s touchdowns. The former Nebraska and Kansas State quarterback had spent the 2023 offseason with the Lions but was waived at final roster cuts.

He signed with the Stallions in December and turned heads with a stellar performance this season, sparking some talk that he could return to the NFL.

Adrian Martinez Shines in League’s Biggest Game

As Al.com noted, Martinez helped to break an early defensive stalemate in Sunday’s title game and opened the scoring with an 8-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Gary Jennings. He then completed a 2-point conversion pass to increase the lead to 8-0.

Martinez found the endzone again on the first drive of the second half, scrambling for an 11-yard rushing score and hitting another 2-point conversion pass for a 16-0 lead. He scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak later in the third quarter, with the score holding up on a video review.

Though he didn’t do as much damage through the air — Martinez completed 13-of-23 passes for 98 yards — the all-around performance helped to earn him the MVP Award for the championship game.

Martinez joined the Lions as an undrafted rookie last offseason, competing for a spot as a third quarterback or practice squad signal-caller. Jeff Risdon of USA Today’s Lions Wire noted that he came into the NFL with plenty of tools to succeed.

“Martinez offers a lot of running ability,” Risdon wrote. “He accelerates quickly and has natural wiggle, power, and vision as a runner. He isn’t a threat to throw once he starts running, however. The 4.55 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine is legit and translates to the field. The 23-year-old rushed for over 500 yards in all five of his college seasons.”

Martinez ultimately fell victim to a crowded quarterback room, with the Lions signing veteran Teddy Bridgewater to back up Jared Goff and keeping a spot for rookie Hendon Hooker, who joined the roster late in the season after recovering from a torn ACL.

Quarterback Considering Return to the NFL

Martinez spoke to Fox Sports in May, saying he joined the Stallions because of head coach Skip Holtz’s track record of success with the franchise. The Stallions won the USFL last season before its merger with the XFL, and Holtz has helped players make the move to the NFL.

“Part of the reason why I wanted to be a Stallion is because Skip’s done it before. Something he prides himself on, as well as Zach Potter, our GM, is getting guys to the NFL, which is where we all want to be,” Martinez said. “Playing with guys with that similar-type mindset, everyone’s hungry in here, everyone’s had success but ultimately not where they want to be, and I think the way we’ve been able to build chemistry through that is part of why we’re so successful.”

Martinez said at the time that he had more work before being NFL-ready and wanted to “continue to progress as a passer” as the season wore on.

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