Aaron Garcia Predictably Kisses Jacksonville Goodbye
At the ArenaBowl last season, our own Tim Capper asked the famed Aaron Garcia whether he was going to kiss the Orlando Predators goodbye right after the announcement that the Los Angeles KISS were the newest AFL team. Not only has Garcia kissed the Predators goodbye, but he did so with the Jacksonville Sharks as well. The all-time leading passer in AFL history has been traded for the second time this season, as he was shipped to the KISS on Monday as a part of a bevy of moves which shuffled quarterbacks throughout the league.
Garcia was packaged from the Sharks to the KISS in exchange for the beleaguered JJ Raterink, who had fallen out of favor with Head Coach Bob McMillen and his team. Jacksonville then turned around and flipped Raterink to the Iowa Barnstormers in exchange for James McClinton.
The saga surrounding Garcia continues to be one of the most fascinating stories in the history of this league. After playing for years and years for the New York Dragons and becoming one of the faces of the league, the veteran signed with the expansion Sharks in 2010. He stayed there for two seasons, capping his time in northern Florida by winning the ArenaBowl on the final play of the game against the Arizona Rattlers. From there though, it was off to the San Antonio Talons for a season, followed by the San Jose SaberCats in 2013.
After just a handful of games with the SaberCats, Garcia was cast out of San Jose when Russ Michna came to town, and he was sent to the Predators. He had signed a two-year contract with the Cats, and that contract was sent to Orlando. After playing with the Preds for the second half of last season and guiding them to the playoffs, the new management of the club sent him to Jacksonville in exchange for three players. Orlando essentially voided the deal when Bernard Morris and Matt Marcorelle didn't report to the team, and to get Garcia, the team had to give up Tracy Belton and Kyle Rowley.
Garcia showed up for two weeks, played as a backup in the first of the two games and was the starter for the other, and he decided to head back home and was placed on league suspension.
On Monday, the drama came to a close.
The Sharks essentially have traded five players for the rights to McClinton, not nearly a Top 20 lineman in this league by any stretch of the imagination. Needless to say, this isn't a deal which is going to help out a team which is just 3-5 on the season and on the wrong side of the playoffs in the American Conference for the time being.
Garcia, as of Monday, has not been activated from league suspension, but we have to think that he is ultimately going to be activated in the very near future for the KISS.
This isn't nearly the end of the drama on this day, though. The KISS, who have been a tremendous spectacle all season long, only have two wins to show for their first eight games in franchise history. Raterink only had a 70.75 QB rating, and he had 26 TDs against 16 INTs. It's only been two weeks since McMillen threw his starting quarterback under the bus and essentially put out the open invitation to anyone who wanted to try to become the quarterback for the KISS.
Obviously, no one took McMillen under consideration, as Raterink started in last week's loss to the Cleveland Gladiators on the road.
So of course, just as the struggling Predators did last season when they traded for Garcia, the KISS have done the same thing.
We'll leave aside the whole part about Brett Bouchy being reunited with Garcia once again, and we'll dismiss the notion that perhaps Garcia is going to get some favorable treatment to try to salvage the chosen franchise in the AFL. I'll leave that for you to muse about on your own… and for our podcast this week.
And in the last ironic twist to this whole thing, Raterink is headed back to Iowa, where he started off this season before being traded to LA. The Barnstormers have their own problems to deal with, as both Carson Coffman and Brian Reader were hurt within just a few minutes of one another in last week's loss to… you guessed it… Jacksonville. The timing for Raterink's arrival couldn't possibly be any better for Iowa, as we have to assume that he is going to once again get his job back as the starter. Now, Raterink is away from all of the glitz and glamor that is Tinseltown and back in the cornfields, where there will be significantly less drama and a much better chance to succeed for him.
And so the world turns for the Arena Football League, and it almost feels as if all is right once again. Jacksonville can close the chapter on the melodrama of Garcia. Iowa now has its quarterback back for the second time. And the flashiest men in the Arena Football League now have the flashiest quarterback to grace the 50-yard indoor war we all love.
The story of Aaron Garcia in the AFL probably should have ended at the end of ArenaBowl XXIV in Arizona, as his final pass could have resulted in his first championship. But now, there is a chance to write another ending to the greatest saga in AFL history. Garcia can once again take a team from the depths, this time in his home state, back from a 2-6 start to the season to get into the playoffs and perhaps challenge those pesky Rattlers once again for the National Conference crown.
All is right in the world.