After multiple stops in the NFL, Joe Germaine found his way to the Arena Football League with his hometown Arizona Rattlers.
After an apprenticeship under AFL legend Sherdrick Bonner in Arizona, Germaine got his first big chance with the Utah Blaze, an expansion team, last year.
Though Germaine’s first season as a starter was cut short by an injury, the Blaze made the playoffs.
In his return this season, Germaine set the league record for passing yards in a single season and led the Blaze back to the postseason.
“It feels great,” he said of making the playoffs. “That’s what we set out to do. It’s my first time playing a full 16 games, so it’s been quite an experience. A lot of highs a lot of lows during our year – kind of a roller-coaster-type season – but we’re in the thick of things right now.”
The Blaze started the season 5-2 before a four-game losing streak dropped them below .500. They responded with back-to-back wins, then lost two in a row to set up a do-or-die regular season finale with the Los Angeles Avengers.
Germaine completed 20-of-35 passes for 224 yards, five touchdowns and one interception as the Blaze beat the Avengers, 47-37, in L.A.
In the process, Germaine became the first AFL player to surpass 5,000 yards in on year. He finished tied for second in the league in TD passes with 107.
The fifth-seeded Blaze (8-8) will make a return visit to the Staples Center in Los Angeles to take on the fourth-seeded Avengers (9-7) in the wild card round of the playoffs Monday, July 2 at 10:00 p.m. ET. The game can be seen on ESPN2 and at ESPN360.com.
As for his big personal numbers (422 completions on 617 attempts for 5005 yards
107 touchdowns and 12 interceptions), Germaine was quick to spread praise to a group that includes wide receiver Siaha Burley, who became the first player in United States professional football history to reach 2,000 receiving yards in a single season as he finished with 166 receptions (No. 1 in the AFL) for 2,129 yards (No. 1 in AFL) and 49 touchdowns (No. 2 in AFL).
“It’s the guys around me. I really believe that,” he said. “Our offensive line has just done a tremendous job of protecting and then the group of receivers that we have – the seven guys around me have really been the ones who have allowed me to do the things I’ve done.”
Experience has played a part in Germaine’s breakthrough season, as well, as the soft-spoken gunslinger has gotten used to making a variety of different throws, quick reads and thread the needle into small spaces all over the 50-yard AFL field.
Having just finished the first year of a three-year contract with Utah, Germaine has earned some stability for himself and his family, but he is not necessarily entrenched where he is.
“I do have a desire to play in the NFL again,” he said. “I’m still young enough and I think the arena experience has helped me out a lot as far as continuing to play and develop. I think I’m a better quarterback now than I was when I was coming out of college, that’s for sure. If someone were to give me a real opportunity, then I would definitely try to take advantage of that.”
He said AFL records are hard to compare to the ones he set at Ohio State, including single-season marks for passing yards (3,330 in 1998), completions (230) and attempts (384). In addition, Germaine has more than double the 300-yard passing games (eight) at Ohio State than any other player and continues to hold the career and single-season records for passing yards per game.
“The games are just so much different. I’m more of a traditional football guy myself. I like the outdoor game and I look at my time at Ohio State and it was the best experience in my entire life, it really is,” he said.
“Everything I’ve been able to be a part of there – it’s an amazing place and I’ll never be able to probably match that, but I look at what I’ve done in the Arena League and I’ve really come to love this game and I think it’s something that the more people watch, the more they’ll really enjoy and hopefully the more popularity and attention it will get.”