High School Football

Ex-Stanislaus District star Ja’Quan Gardner reflects on abrupt end to new AAF

San Diego Fleet running back Ja’Quan Gardner (32) breaks away from San Antonio Commanders defensive back Duke Thomas (21) for a long touchdown run as the fans cheer in the second half during a San Antonio Commanders at San Diego Fleet AAF football game, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)
San Diego Fleet running back Ja’Quan Gardner (32) breaks away from San Antonio Commanders defensive back Duke Thomas (21) for a long touchdown run as the fans cheer in the second half during a San Antonio Commanders at San Diego Fleet AAF football game, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit) AP

San Diego Fleet running back Ja’Quan Gardner woke up on Tuesday morning and saw the news on ESPN’s SportsCenter:

The Alliance of American Football had abruptly suspended the rest of its season after eight weeks.

“It was kind of crazy and unexpected,” the former Central Valley High running back said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “The last we heard it was going to be fine.”

Gardner, who was placed on the Fleet’s injured reserve with a right shoulder injury on March 27 and didn’t attend team meetings that morning, said he texted some of his teammates asking what was going on and they all responded the same:

“It’s done,” they wrote.

The AAF’s first season was expected to end with the championship game on April 27. Technically, if new money was found to support the league, a second season would be possible, according to reports.

The Humboldt State graduate had surgery on Monday and doctors said his rehab time will be four to six months.

The 5-foot-7 speedster had lots of success in the league and was named the AAF’s Offensive Player of the Week in Week 3 after rushing for 122 yards and a touchdown in a 31-11 win over the San Antonio Commanders. He rushed for 311 yards and three touchdowns this year.

Gardner, who spent time in training camp with the San Francisco 49ers in 2018, said the league was “high-level football.”

“There were a lot of guys in the league who have been in the NFL for a number of years,” he said. “It was a blast and there were a lot of great guys and it gave me an opportunity to get the film I needed.”

While the league hasn’t officially announced the suspension of the season, Gardner has been told he has to move out of his housing situation in San Diego by Sunday.

“I am going to talk to team doctors and find somebody in this area (to help rehab injury) and take it from there,” Gardner said.

Related stories from Modesto Bee

Julian A. Lopez has been covering local sports for The Modesto Bee since August 2018. He graduated from Arizona State in 2016 with a BA in Journalism.
  Comments