Finland: Helsinki Wolverines bring back veteran QB-WR combo Jabari Harris and RJ Long

The Helsinki Wolverines of the Finnish Maple League have announced the addition of two veterans of Finnish football after agreeing to terms with quarterback Jabari Harris and receiver RJ Long.

Head coach Michael Mattingly on signing the two experienced players:

“I’m very excited to be able to coach these two! It was important to get these two local players involved, who also have experience with the Maple League. We expect a lot from Jabari as he gets better year after year. The upcoming season may well become his best season.”

Harris and Long suited up together for the Wolverines back in 2019 helping them reach the league’s semi-finals. Last season the two played only two games together as members of the Porvoo Butchers before an achillies injury sidelined RJ long for the season. The last time receiver RJ Long put together a full season, the 6’2,” 210 pound pass-catcher hauled in an impressive 72 passes for 1,053 yards and 11 touchdowns for the 2019 Wolverines.

Prior to that season, Long suited up for the Helsinki 69ers, Wasa Royals, Solingen Paladins, and Bialystok Lowlanders after arriving in Europe following an All-American collegiate career at McMurry University (NCAA D3).

“Coming back to an organization that I’ve been in the past(2019) feels great. I made a lot of strong bonds with the guys as well with the management so to be able to come back and finish what we set out to do which is to win a maple bowl. I’m very excited to get back to work and do my part to get it done.”

Jabari Harris, 29, was another key part of the Wolverines 2019 campaign playing primarily defense back with few situational appearances from behind center. The 6’2 225-pound is coming off of a strong season, leading the Butchers to the playoffs. Known as a dual-threat passer, Harris finished third in the Maple League in total offense, passing for 1,534 yards and 13 touchdowns while adding another 356 yards and five scores on the ground.

The Jackson, Mississippi, native is quickly approaching a decade of football in Finland having played for the Porvoo Butchers, Helsinki Wolverines, East City Giants, Helsinki Roosters, and Helsinki 69ers over the course of his nine-season Finnish career.

The imported Helsinki Aerospace engineer contemplated retirement this winter before being lured back to the Wolverines:

“I came back to the Wolverines because the team is local to home and many of my closest friends will be playing there this season. I’ve always had support from the organization, even when I didn’t play for the team. After discussing with my family about my playing options if I still wanted to play a few more seasons, the Wolverines were the best option if not in Porvoo.”

Harris showed self-awareness joking with a smile about his back-and-forth decision on his football career:

“I don’t think anyone will ever take my retirement news seriously! Some say I retire every year.”

The two veterans will join familiar faces as the well-known veterans such as Curtis Slater, Banks Egbudiwe, James Perrineau, and Ville Valasti have also re-signed with the Wolverines this off-season. Expect more news from coach Michael Mattingly’s team as the off-season begins to pick up steam.

Read more about Jabari Harris’s life in Finland here

Read more about RJ Long here:

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football