Jeff Garcia Press Conference Transcript

The former Eagles quarterback talks about how his new deal with Tampa Bay came about and what other prospects he had as a free agent.

Garcia's opening statement:
"It's an exciting day for me to be here to join forces with Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's been something – like Bruce Allen has said – that's somewhat been in motion for a number of years now, and it's finally to a point where we can sit down and actually talk about offensive schemes and game plans and do the necessary things that we can do to help this team win football games."

"I think for me at this point in my career, the decision I'm making is definitely one based upon the opportunity to play. It's based upon the opportunity to compete to play. And as much as that's not something that's going to just be handed to me or just handed out and dictated in any sort of way, I'm here to compete, to give my best to help this team win football games. And I looked at the opportunity here in Tampa Bay knowing that there are guys like the Derrick Brooks, the Joey Galloways, the Ronde Barbers, the Mike Alstotts – the guys who have been around with this team for a number of years, who have contributed, who have been part of a championship team. And being able to be around them, to work with them, to add something to the mix, to bring an excitement, to bring a certain energy."

"Throw the age out the window because that's not how I play; that's not how I focus. That's not how I mentally prepare. That's not who I am. I'm somebody who is excited about this opportunity, excited to be around the young guys and the older guys, to bring a good mix of leadership and drive and will and perseverance and all those things needed in order to turn the corner and get back that winning feeling, that winning tradition. Knowing that I'm coming to a state, to a city that thrives off of football, that loves football – a stadium that is unlike any other around the league, that presents the best atmosphere, the best situation to create a winning opportunity. And that's what I am really looking forward to. And being able to be tutored by Coach Gruden and Coach [Paul] Hackett and all the other coaches who are assembled here – because I know it is a great staff."

"There have been great things that have happened here, and it's not so long ago that those things did happen and it's something that can happen again. And that's where I really feel that I'm going to be very excited about this opportunity."

On the timeline of the last 36 hours:
"It's been a sleepless 36 hours. It's been a very busy 36 hours. Bruce [Allen] can attest to the lack of sleep that he's had just in working with my agent over certain details. But all of that aside, it's been a very rewarding 36 hours. I think looking at the opportunities, the options that were out there for me and having visited Oakland – that was really a tough situation to turn away from because I grew up in the bay area of California. I know I'm in the bay area of Florida here, but I grew up just south of Oakland, an hour away. So there was an appeal there because I grew up watching the Raiders. Being able to meet Coach [Lane] Kiffin and some of the coaches who he's assembled on that staff – they're very likable people, and they're people who are going to get that organization headed and turned around in the right direction. But I felt for myself, I had to pull my emotional tie out of that. I had to pull away from the fact that I would be back near my family. I had to do what was right for me mentally as far as what gives me the best opportunity to win right now. Where the team is already in place, where there are good leaders, where there are good veterans who know work ethic, that know winning, that know tradition, that know what it's all about to be on top. And I felt like Tampa Bay offered that opportunity. It offered that situation. And I think that there are some good young quarterbacks here within this system, guys who I will look forward to working with and learning from as much as they learn from me. And I think that can be a great mix and a great development for all of us."

On if he expects to be the starter in Tampa
"I think that opportunity may be presented. I think that I signed to compete. Nothing is handed to me. I don't expect it to be handed to me. I expect to show up and learn, give my best, and hopefully my best presents itself in a situation where I am the starter. I do want to start. I believe that I can start and contribute to this team, but I don't expect it to come without competition. And I think competition is healthy. And even if Jake Plummer were to show up here after I did, I welcome it. It's not a situation that I am fearful of. It's not a situation that I would shy away from. I think Chris Simms has had some opportunities on the field where he has done some great things. There are some things that he's still learning to do also. And I think in so many ways I can be a positive influence for him. The same with [Bruce] Gradkowski – a young kid who's very motivated, [he] very much has a drive within himself that somewhat reminds me of myself. I think we'll be good for each other. Tim Rattay is a guy I've played with in the past. Luke McCown – those are guys who I've been teammates with, and those are all good people. And whatever the situation here is, with whoever is assembled at the quarterback position, I will make it work in a positive way, but I'm going to fight my tail off to be the starter."

On the length of his contract:
"I signed a two-year contract."

On how much he has to learn before he can feel comfortable with the Bucs offense:
"I think there are a lot of similarities. It's a west coast system, but it's a system that Coach Gruden has definitely put his change on; he's definitely made it his own system. So there are going to be some changes as far as terminology that I have to adjust to and learn from, but all the concepts are the same. All the route combinations are the same. The play-actions – all those things are the same. Once I get comfortable with spitting out the terminology I don't see any problem with the decision-making process. I'm very comfortable – been in the west coast system seven of the eight years that I've played professionally – I know how it works; I know how it's utilized. I know that I can still grow and learn more, and I'm looking forward to that opportunity of expanding my mind. But I have the basics down; I have the understanding of it down. And once I adapt to just calling it into the huddle the way that coach wants it called, I don't see a problem with it."

On if he was surprised to hear the team was pursuing quarterback Jake Plummer:
"Well I think everybody needs to cover their own backs, so to speak. I think that it's a situation where just as much as I'm visiting Oakland and we're talking to Tampa and there are some other teams that are talking to my agent, these teams need to cover their bases too. They need to be able to have other options, other opportunities. Whether they would have still brought me in had Jake [Plummer] decided he would come here or not – who knows? I know that there were talks alongside talks with Jake, and his decision is his decision. Whether I was first in line, second in line or third in line, I'm here now, and I know that if he would have been here it wouldn't have made a difference. I would still come here, and I'd be willing to compete for that job."

On what happened when he was in Oakland visiting:
"I'll have to be honest in the sense that, Oakland is coming off of some tough times, coming out of a very difficult season, a very difficult year. They have some things that they need to do in order to turn that thing around. I was honest with Coach Kiffin in saying that, if Oakland was not in Oakland, so to speak. If Oakland was in any other city outside of California, I probably would not have been visiting with an open mind. I probably would not have been visiting at all. I visited Oakland because it was a chance for me to look at potentially returning home, to where I grew up. I came in with an open mind because Greg Knapp was there as the offensive coordinator. I had heard great things about Coach Kiffin, even though he is young and fresh and he is brand new to the NFL as far as being a head coach. I went in there open minded and I liked what I saw and there was an emotional bond that was starting to take place and that's why I said I had to pull myself out of there and keep myself open minded to what else was out there for me because I did not want to make this decision purely based on where my heart was. As much as my Mom said it would have been nice for me to be there, they also know my relationship with Coach Gruden and how great that is and how often we have talked in the past and how close we have come to getting together before. It was one of those things where I wanted to be open to that and still keep that as an option knowing that I really believed that if this option presented itself, it was the best option for me, it was the best opportunity for me to be in a position to be in a situation where I have the chance to start, to compete to start and to win right away. That's what it really came down to."

On how is relationship with Coach Gruden developed:
"I think just his days in Oakland, we had crossed paths a couple of times. Actually, he was the first coach I had worked out for coming out of the Canadian Football League. He was new in Oakland, I believe it was his first year there, first or second year in Oakland and I was just coming out of the CFL. He acknowledged later that he didn't watch any film on me and when I walked into their training facility, I know I impressed them with my size and arm strength (laughing). After he was impressed by those things, he still didn't find room for me with a job. It was one of those things where it was my first workout after my last season in Canada and he just wasn't real familiar with me and it was something, like I said before, with my size and arm strength, I am not going to impress you with an individual workout. I am not going to go out there and just light your world on fire. What you have to do, is you have to look at what I do in the heat of battle. You have to look at what my film displays. He was honest with me in saying a couple years later after we crossed paths again after a preseason game with the Raiders that he never watched any film on me, he didn't know much about me. He just knew they were bringing me in for a workout. It was a cold, sloppy, ugly day and it was my first experience working out with an NFL team and after that I kind of knew what to expect personally. I moved on, I worked out for four other teams and I ended up having the offer from San Francisco that I signed. It was just one of those experiences. I think ever since that time he has been aware of what I can do as a player. And again, we played against each other and he has seen those things. I appreciate the way he approaches the game. I appreciate the way he coaches. I love his fire, his enthusiasm; those are things that excite me. As much as off the field I may be a real laid back, casual, relaxed person; I know on the field there is a lot of intensity. There is a lot of emotion and that is how I play the game, much how he coaches the game."

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