After languishing in two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, Garcia saw an opportunity to reunite with his former boss and advocate, Steve Mariucci. He saw a young quarterback struggling to grasp an offense that he mastered. He saw three young receivers just waiting for someone to get the football to them.
What a great place to resurrect a career.
Instead, it all came crashing down on Garcia in three consecutive losses after being named the starting quarterback for the Detroit Lions by interim head coach Dick Jauron. The coup-de-gras was his performance in a dismal 41-17 loss to the Cinncinati Bengals. Garcia was 13-of-21 for 138 yards, 1 touchdown and three interceptions. The fans cheered loudly when the ineffective 35-year old veteran was benched in favor of prodigal son Joey Harrington, who responded with a 6-of-7 77 yard performance including a touchdown to another prodigal son, Charles Rogers.
Harrington's passer rating, 152.1. Garcia's 57.3.
True, they played under different circumstances, but the numbers didn't lie.
In a similar performance the week before against a weakened Green Bay team, Garcia completed just 13-of-24 for 112 yards and 1 touchdown, a 80.6 passer rating. Against Minnesota, it was even worse. The outspoken veteran was just 17-of-35 for 126 yards and 1 TD, sporting a horrendous 45.7 rating.
After what is likely to be his career swan song against Cincinnati, Garcia dressed very methodically and, with reporters patiently waiting, he finished dressing and walked right through the media hordes and right out of the dressing room.
It was ironic that a player who had been so outspoken, who had ripped the Lions locker room on almost every occasion, who had taken a regular appearance on a local radio show, would go out in this manner, but on second thought, it was probably the right thing to do.
Garcia has taken nearly every highly drafted player on the Lions roster to task for not working hard enough, not putting for the kind of effort that was needed to excel. Now, it was a case of the pot calling the kettle black. The player who had run the West Coast offense better than nearly anyone else, couldn't do it anymore.
Jeff Garcia must have realized what everyone else watching that day realized, that he was done.
Garcia, now demoted to the emergency third string quarterback will look on as Joey Harrington and Dan Orlovsky take the reigns now. He'll see them make mistakes, he'll offer suggestions, but he won't talk anymore about what he would do if he was in there.
He knows what you and I know. He knows what all former great athletes at some point have to accept. He doesn't have it anymore, it's time to turn the page.