They are two quarterbacks who have shown at times to be able to play the position at an elite level, yet they're two quarterbacks for whom the NFL no longer had a use, long before their bodies were ready to quit.
Fortunately for Jeff Garcia and Daunte Culpepper, they still have a place to play professional football. They don't play on Sundays, and their games aren't watched by millions of fans, but they're still playing football.
It may sound a bit hokey, but Garcia doesn't care.
"We all love to play," Garcia said Thursday. "It's different, in the sense that it's not a situation where we're going to get rich or we're going to prepare our future with the salaries that we're making, but that's not a concern with the players that are here. Their concern is getting on the field and having the opportunity to compete and play."
Garcia will be lining up for the Omaha Nighthawks on Saturday night, opposed by Culpepper and the Sacramento Mountain Lions. The two players shared UFL Co-Player of the Week honors for their performances last week — Garcia for leading a last-second, comeback drive and Culpepper for setting a new league record with 374 passing yards.
"Both Daunte and Jeff have shown throughout their pro football careers that they are not only superb athletes, but true leaders," UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue said in the league's announcement. "Last week’s closing-second victories only go to show that there is a lot of gas left in these tanks."
When they take the field on Saturday, it will be one of only two games this weekend that features two quarterbacks with three NFL Pro Bowls on their resumes (the other being the Donovan McNabb–Michael Vick show in Philadelphia).
It's clear, though, that Garcia and Culpepper aren't thinking about the NFL — not now at least. If they do indeed want to get back there, they know that the journey starts with focusing on the task at hand.
"I'm glad to be a part of something new, a league that's growing," Culpepper said.
Garcia, meanwhile, spoke only of the opportunity that he had in front of him — not those that may or may not be in his future.
"I've really enjoyed the opportunity to get on the field and be that guy — the guy that I'm so used to being. The person that has been motivated and driven to play all these years at the professional level," said Garcia, who bounced around from Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Oakland in his final five years in the NFL. "That's what drives me — the opportunity to be on the field, being able to contribute, being able to lead, being able to be part of the action."
Garcia even gave the impression that for him, starting in the UFL may beat being a backup in the NFL.
"I think the biggest trait that I have within myself is my competitive spirit," he said. "For me to sit and watch somebody else play the position has never been a comfortable thing for me. It's never been an easy thing to accept."
And while there may be some preconceived notions about the quality of play (or lack thereof) in a league that's existed for one year, Culpepper has been impressed with the talent level thus far.
"This league is definitely a league that has players that can play," Culpepper, who threw for more than 24,000 yards in the NFL, said. "The NFL has about 1,500 jobs roughly, but I truly believe there are more than 1,500 good football players in America. Those good players have an opportunity to play somewhere else and be successful at the professional level and I think it's great."
The two players are in a league with almost no history. Nobody knows its future, either. But that's not their concern. They're taking their jobs seriously, and after getting pushed out of the NFL before they were ready to call it a career, they're taking nothing for granted.
Whether that results in opportunities elsewhere down the line remains to be seen. At the very least, though, Saturday night is looking to be quite the spectacle.
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