04/13/2011 1:28 PM -
The Jacksonville Sharks are well known for what they do between the walls with the fast-paced style the Arena Football League brings during its 18-game regular season schedule. Everything the Sharks do during the course of the game is public knowledge, after all, it is broadcasted on radio and television. What the fans do not see, though, is what the players are doing during a bye week.
The Sharks are coming off of the first of two bye weeks and while several players stayed in Jacksonville, many traveled home to see their families.
Sharks fullback Kirby Griffin is one of only two Sharks that have started every game in the organizations history. Griffin, while a fixture in the Jacksonville backfield, is a native of Pennsylvania, growing up near Pittsburgh. Griffin, coming off of a season-high two-touchdown performance at Tampa was excited to cap off a great week in Florida with a trip home during the bye. I had a great time back home," Griffin said. "I got to spend time with my fiancé and played paintball with my friends which was an absolute blast."
The Sharks travel to play the Pittsburgh Power this week and Griffin couldnt be happier about the match-up. I feel energized about playing in front of my friends and family in the crowd as well as seeing some of guys that were on the team last year. The Power roster consists of five players from the 2010 season as well as former Offensive Coordinator, now Power head coach, Chris Siegfried.
Quarterback Aaron Garcia knows what it is like to be away from home during an AFL season, having played 17 seasons in his standout career. Garcia, like Griffin, is not a local product - a native of California, currently residing in Sacramento during the off-season. During the bye week, Garcia traveled back to Sacramento to spend time with his three children, Gabriella (12), Isabella (9) and Anthony (7), a chance that he always looks forward to. Honestly, Im always looking at the schedule to see when the next bye week is so that I can eat pizza with my kids, go to their sporting events and talk about Sharks football with them, Garcia said. Garcia is having yet another outstanding season, currently third in the AFL in passer rating through the first four games of 2011. I got to see my son Anthony strike-out three kids and get a hit during the bye week so now it is my turn to get back to Jacksonville and play with my kids watching.
Unlike his teammates mentioned thus far, Sharks wide receiver Jeron Harvey is one of several Sharks that did not have to leave town to go home. Harvey is a Jacksonville native who played high school football at Jackson High and later spent time with the Jaguars in 2008 before becoming a Shark last season. Harveys play in front of the local crowd has not disappointed. In three games played this season, Harvey has 26 catches for 353 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The bye week came at just the right time for Harvey who has been rehabbing a shoulder injury during the bye week while spending time with friends and his new family, the Jacksonville Sharks training staff. I spent most of my time during the bye week with the trainers rehabbing two or three sessions a day so that I can be ready to electrify our fans again. I guess you could say the trainers are my family now with how much time Ive spent with them.
The Sharks travel to the Pittsburgh Power for Week 6 and while the players have enjoyed their time off during the bye week, they are also anxious to get back to work in Jacksonville. I had a great time back home but was anxious to get back with the guys to continue building on our three game win streak, said Griffin.
As you can see the Sharks are a team that is coming together each week to put the best product on the field for the city of Jacksonville, even though many players are not local products they have adopted this town to make it their own. This is my home now, said Garcia. Playing in the AFL is like having two lives, my kids and my teammates, both are my family and the Sharks fans in my new home city of Jacksonville are especially important.