By John Philip Wyllie
Six years have passed since the 2001 football season which saw Tyler Arciaga establish several new passing records for the Bonita Vista Barons. What hasn’t passed is Arciaga’s desire to continue playing the game that he loves. So this weekend the now 24- year old quarterback will board a plane for Austria and begin his professional career playing for the Danube Dragons of the Austrian League of the European Federation of American Football. It has been quite a ride for Arciaga who parlayed his football scholarships into a bachelor’s and master’s degree for UNLV and an additional MBA from Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. As bright as he is athletic, Arciaga received several good offers to begin his career in business upon his graduation, but he has opted to head in a different direction. At least for now.
“Before I hang up my cleats I want this one last shot. You can’t play football when you are fifty, so this seemed like a good opportunity,” Arciaga said Monday in a phone interview from Connecticut. “Football has been really good to me. I got my education for free all the way through a master’s and now a second one and it has taken me to so many places across the country and now on to Europe. I’d like give something back to the sport maybe coaching-wise.”
In Europe he will have the chance to do just that.
While his new European teammates will share his athleticism and enthusiasm, most lack the knowledge and training that only comes through playing organized, competitive football under top-flight coaches. Arciaga is eager to impart all that he has learned.
American football is on the rise in Europe. 17 countries now have professional leagues. What they don’t have are a lot of players with experience. Arciaga will be as much a teacher as he is a player.
“What they are looking for are guys that fit talent-wise, but also guys that will be good ambassadors to the sport and leaders that can teach the players good practice habits. They want us to help them in their developmental process so that they can groom these players. I’ve picked up a lot of little nuances in playing so many years. Hopefully, they will rub off on my teammates and we can mold them into good players.”
Arciaga is looking forward to the many challenges that he will face in Europe. The first one will be deciphering the playbook which is written in German.
“From what I understand English is an offshoot of German, so hopefully some of the terminology and phrases will be familiar. As far as the actual play calling, that is in English and I think a good portion of the people there speak understandable English. Fortunately, English has become a universal language.”
Unlike their NFL counterparts, players in Europe don’t get rich playing football. Arciaga will make only about 1,000 Euro per month, but they will also fly him over there and pay for his food, lodging, transportation costs and medical insurance. What he hopes to gain from this experience will be in many ways more valuable than money.
"Something I have always wanted to do is to go see Europe. I am also looking for closure on my football career before I get into the nine to five deal. I’m young right now and I have no wife or kids to think about. I can just go over there, play and have fun and then there will be time to resume my other career.”