QB Garcia owning up

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:48 AM ET

In the midst of the most turbulent year of Jeff Garcia's life, there is a noticeable pause on the other end of the line when he's informed the Calgary Stampeders could probably be purchased for around $4 million US.

As if the Pro Bowl quarterback didn't have enough on his plate trying to right a young Cleveland Browns club while putting out fires as part of the ongoing soap opera with Terrell Owens. One still gets the sense he'd seriously consider returning to Cowtown as an owner someday.

Lord knows given his extensive experience with conflict resolution of late, he'd be a perfect replacement for Michael Feterik.

"Maybe it's something I could honestly see as being a possibility down the road," said the straight-shooting 34-year-old yesterday.

"Being back in Calgary could be a blessing for me. Maybe management, you never know. I mean, my passion is the game of football and I think, in some way, I'll be affiliated with the game when I finish playing."

It's been less than a year since Garcia was released by his hometown 49ers, opening up a new chapter that finds him in the first season of a four-year deal with Cleveland.

While his introduction to the Browns has seen him perform as both god and goat, the former Stamp has become one of the NFL's most written-about personalities for a number of reasons.

As if a drinking and driving charge and the messy divorce from the 49ers wasn't enough, Garcia has already been the target of criticism from his new coach, not to mention the whipping boy of Owens as the Eagles mouthpiece continues his adolescent sniping from afar.

Throw in a barroom catfight between Garcia's Playboy playmate girlfriend and one of his old flames and Garcia has drawn more headlines than Dar Heatherington.

"I'm not a guy who is looking to seek out the spotlight but, unfortunately, I made some poor decisions and they drew some negative attention," said Garcia, who pleaded guilty to charges his blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit when pulled over in January.

"And then, as much as you think you're going into a new place and new situation -- a sense of cleansing and starting fresh. Then, all of a sudden something takes place there. For the most part, I've tried to represent myself with class and honesty but I've also found myself in a place that has opened me up to some criticism.

"The couple of times I have slipped up and showed my irresponsibility, they've been big time -- rather large -- especially in the scope of being a professional athlete and having those eyes always on you. And you can't afford to slip up. That doesn't sit well with me -- that's not the type of person I want to be for me or my family."

Owens is another source of concern, questioning everything from Garcia's abilities to his sexuality.

"I don't know how many times I bit my lip, swallowed my pride so to speak and I said, 'hey, this isn't a positive situation,' " said Garcia of his former chats with Owens.

"I told him, 'I don't know what the problem is but lets put that aside and move forward.' He would be accepting momentarily and then it would just go back to the same old situation.

"To be honest, it just makes him look bad."

Garcia says 49ers management derives plenty of blame for the team's demise as Owens was allowed to disrupt the locker-room without penalty.

Ownership of a different type has Garcia excited these days as his association with former teammate Vince Danielsen's Innovative Fitness chain has seen them open their sixth location, this one in Seattle.

"I'm part of a family that owned an athletic club and saw how important lifestyle management was for me and getting me to where I am today," said Garcia, whose chain plans to open 35 more locations within five years. "It's allowed me to compete at a high level I think I can stay at for two, three or four more years."

Maybe then, he'll be able to avoid the spotlight.

But don't bet on it.


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