“It was so sad to see this kid wearing the shirt of our team and we’re not able to play for him,” Germaine said. “It’s so sad because we have awesome fans here in Utah, and they don’t have us out there playing this year.”
Germaine, the Blaze and all of the Arena Football League were shelved at least for the 2009 season as league brass blamed the economy.
“We were all very surprised when they canceled the season,” Germaine said. “My teammates and I were in the middle of getting ready for the season. We were excited and looking forward to the new year.
“Then we received word that there wasn’t going to be a 2009 season at all. It was shocking.”
More than shocking was the financial hit players, coaches and executives involved in the AFL were hit with. With the season over and no sure fire decision on the future of the league, paychecks ended as did all other benefits.
“I’m married and have two children and so many people in the league are in similar situations,” Germaine said. “We lost our jobs and we lost our insurance. There was no way to prepare for something like this. A lot of people around the country are experiencing things like this. We’re no different as professional athletes. Our jobs were gone.”
Germaine was one of the fortunate people. After a stellar career at Ohio State University where he was named Most Valuable Player of the 1997 Rose Bowl, Germaine played five years in the National Football League and was the backup quarterback for the St. Louis Rams when the team won the Super Bowl in his rookie year. His NFL career helped give Germaine a financial foundation that some of the AFL players did not have.
Still, having a job taken away without notice is a difficult experience.
Germaine is hopeful that the league will return.
“We have such a unique game and such a great fan base,” Germaine said. “Our games are up close, the fans are loud and the place just rocks. The games are not as long and the scoring is great.
“In Utah, we have some of the best fans in the entire Arena League. Our fans are intense and loud. They’re are great.
“I don’t know what the future of the league is,” Germaine said. “I hope our fans will be back when and if we start playing again.”