By Karen Billing
His playing days may be behind him but NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia still looks like the competitor who played hard, fearless football. The local resident will cop to the “wear and tear” but is still out climbing mountains, throwing footballs, and doesn’t back down from any challenge. There’s no ink on the retirement papers just yet but he says it’s only because he hasn’t gotten around to it.
“I feel like I’m retired,” said Garcia, fresh off of a boot camp workout. “I feel like it’s time to move on.”
He adds with a small smile: “But it would be difficult to say no if an opportunity presented itself.”
Garcia likely won’t ever stray far from the game he loves and is busier than ever in his semi-retirement. In addition to quarterbacking a young family with four kids under the age of 4, he’s also hosting clinics to shape young football players, helping players in the NFL think about what life means after the game with his company Beyond Wealth, and was recently named to an advisory board hoping to revive the United States Football League (USFL) which last saw action in 1987.
Garcia will serve on the player development branch of the advisory board with Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff, former NFL and Chargers executive Jim Steeg, former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens executive vice president James Bailey, and sports consultant/coach Terrell Jones.
“Jeff’s extensive background and networks with professional football players will undoubtedly help carry out the USFL’s mission of helping our players live successfully and responsibly as positive citizens on and off the field,” said USFL President and CEO Jaime Cuadra.
The hope is for an eight-team league to kick off their inaugural season in 2013 with 14 games and a spring season that stretches from March to June.
Garcia has strong memories of the 1980s USFL, going to Oakland Invaders games and watching the advancement of future NFLers like Steve Young, Doug Flutie and Herschel Walker.
“I remembered the league and I’ve always said there are too many talented football players and not enough jobs,” Garcia said, noting players stuck in practice squad limbo and third string quarterbacks who never get that opportunity to show what they can do in the heat of the battle. “Another league with the right approach, playing in a space and time that’s not competing with the NFL, I think people will embrace it if it’s in the right cities.”
Being all over the country during his 12 NFL seasons, Garcia said he saw the places where people live and die football and who would support an USFL franchise.
He believes the league could not only develop careers of the players, but also the coaching staff, management, scouts and more,
“I think there could be something really special here,” Garcia said.
While he, of course, sees an obvious partnership that could form between the USFL and NFL like baseball’s minor league system and the NBA’s D-League, Garcia said it’s important that in the beginning the league learns to stand on its own two feet without a dependence on big brother NFL.