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Originally published October 19, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 19, 2008 at 8:27 PM

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Bucs QB Jeff Garcia gets another chance

Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia is 38 years old and playing for his fifth NFL team. Between 2003 and 2007, he was in San Francisco, Cleveland...

Seattle Times staff reporter

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QB Jeff Garcia has played for five NFL teams.

 

QB Jeff Garcia has played for five NFL teams.

Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia is 38 years old and playing for his fifth NFL team. Between 2003 and 2007, he was in San Francisco, Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia and now, Tampa Bay.

He's the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era (1966 to present) to start a playoff game for three division-winning teams: the 49ers, Eagles and Bucs.

Garcia opened the season as Tampa Bay's starting quarterback but was benched after the first game and dropped to No. 3. It seemed he'd long since fallen out of coach Jon Gruden's favor after a contract dispute that carried over into training camp. Plus, the Bucs made a strong play to acquire Brett Favre before the season started.

"It wasn't a real good start for myself in New Orleans, and that led to Coach making a decision that I had to pretty much live with," Garcia said. "I wasn't happy about it in any sort of way. I had to pretty much bite my lip and not be that guy that was going to tear down the team due to selfish reasons."

Then Brian Griese, who replaced Garcia, suffered an elbow injury in a loss at Denver on Oct. 5. That brought Garcia, who took the down time to heal from minor injuries, back off the bench, and he guided the Bucs to 27-3 win over Carolina last week.

"He's healthy now, and he's a good quarterback when he's healthy," Gruden said. "He's proven that, and we're happy to have him playing the way he is."

The relationship between Garcia and Gruden, after all that has happened between them, seems a bit icy but professional.

"My relationship is fine," Garcia said. "It's a situation where Gruden is a tremendous motivator. He's a very dynamic coach and you just pretty much have to take him for what he is ... I'm not going to allow that to affect the relationship that I need to have with my head coach."

Garcia, a four-time Pro Bowler including last season, has been steady with the Bucs. He attempted 197 passes without throwing an interception between the 2007 season opener and Oct. 28 of last year. His 18 straight completions at Detroit last Oct. 21 is a team record. He is one of only three active NFL quarterbacks with 2,000-plus career passing yards and 2,000-plus career rushing yards.

"He takes tremendous care of himself," Gruden said. "He's a real hard-nosed football player. He's demanding. He's a real good student of the game. He doesn't look like he's 36 or 38 or whatever age he is."

Note

• The Seahawks added LB Will Herring to the 53-man roster Saturday. They made room for Herring by reaching an injury settlement with and waiving WR Billy McMullen, who suffered a compound fracture in his right pinkie finger earlier in the week in practice.

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Herring, a fifth-round pick out of Auburn in 2007, had swelling in his knee and was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list before the season. He missed six weeks and was, by NFL rule, eligible to rejoin the team this past week.

McMullen played in four games and had seven receptions for 124 yards. He originally signed with the Seahawks on Sept. 10.

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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