Pivot and the playmate

Jeff Garcia and Carmella DeCesare, the 2004 Playboy playmate of the year, were married on April 21.

Jeff Garcia and Carmella DeCesare, the 2004 Playboy playmate of the year, were married on April 21.

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

Jeff Garcia may be the biggest name in Calgary this weekend for Henry Burris' All-star weekend but by no means will all eyes be on the former Stampeders star.

Instead, they'll be on Garcia's bride, Carmella DeCesare, the 2004 Playboy playmate of the year.

"When we walk into a room, I'm not the first thing people notice but that's all right with me -- I don't mind attention being directed somewhere else," laughed the 37-year-old NFL quarterback who married the 24-year-old brunette April 21 in Northern California.

FORTUNATE

"I take it for what it is. I'm fortunate to have a beautiful wife. I've always appreciated when the attention is positive because there have been times it has been negative and you want to run and hide." From a third-string Stampeders hopeful to a wealthy NFL star, Canadians have long kept a close eye on the Gilroy, Calif., native, who still speaks of his five years in Calgary with great affinity. Thanks to the Internet, millions around the globe have been able to keep an even closer eye on DeCesare, whose days as a playmate are well documented. Having made a career out of adapting quickly to different scenarios, Garcia says marrying a woman seen naked by millions of men is not something he's had trouble handling.

"It's not anything to be embarrassed about or for me to think about in a way that is negative -- I'm proud of her for what she's been able to accomplish," a candid Garcia told Sun Media recently while in Tampa Bay to meet with his new coaches.

"I appreciate the person she is and that she's not caught up in the world of Playboy or what people may think of what she's done in the past. That was a decision she made before I met her to open doors in modeling. But it's not something she'll ever revisit and that's important to me. It's not something I wanted to be associated with down the road. What I have with her I want to be between her and I and I don't want to share that with the rest of the world." Wed at CordeValle private resort in front of 250 friends and family members, the Garcias postponed honeymoon plans so he could start focusing on a new chapter in his career with the Bucs. Guaranteed to make at least $5 million this year to battle Chris Simms for the starting gig, Garcia says his love for the game was rekindled late last year when he came off the bench in Philadelphia to win six-straight for the Eagles.

"It really got to the point I really didn't feel like I could go on much longer," explained Garcia, whose new bride hopes to catch on as a Tampa Bay sideline reporter.

"At first, I didn't mind being in the backup role but that changed as I felt I wanted to give more to the team. The game wasn't much fun anymore. Playing in Cleveland and Detroit killed me in a lot of ways and there was a time in Philly I would stand on the sideline and started to doubt I wanted to play anymore."

That all changed when Donovan McNabb went down and Garcia rejuvenated the Eagles as well as his career. He insists the Eagles run to the NFL divisional playoffs was the most fun he's had playing football since winning the 1998 Grey Cup in Winnipeg with Calgary.

1998 GREY CUP

"I was at my parents' house on Mother's Day and we found the 1998 Grey Cup tape and watched it," said Garcia, who just paid a Bucs teammate for giving him his old Stamps No. 7.

"Obviously the NFL has provided me the opportunity to set myself and my family up for life but I wouldn't be in the NFL without the CFL. I'm very thankful for all the Stampeders presented me with and I love getting back there."


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