Monday was a getaway day for the Omaha Nighthawks, as the team left the practice field for a well-deserved week of rest and time with family. While the other four United Football League teams are bearing down this week in preparation for opening weekend, the Nighthawks are the league’s only team with one of their two bye weeks scheduled for Week 1.
So after Monday’s practice, Nighthawks coach Jeff Jagodzinski gave the team off until Sunday, when the team will reconvene and begin preparation for its first game against Hartford on Friday, September 24. After some final words from Jagodzinski, players let out cheers and bounded toward a pair of yellow schools buses, resembling oversized summer campers eager to get home.
Most of the Nighthawks players and staff have been away from their families for the last three weeks during training camp, living at the team hotel and keeping in touch only by phone calls and e-mails.
While UFL fans eagerly await Omaha quarterback Jeff Garcia’s debut, this week could be even bigger for the former NFL All-Pro. Garcia was headed home to California where he is set to become a father again in the near future. His wife, Carmella, is due to have the couple’s third child this week.
Others didn’t have as far to travel. Omaha running back Ahman Green is a native of the city, and defensive end Jay Moore, from nearby Elkhorn, has family nearby. Placekicker Jeff Wolfert was already making plans to hit the road to his hometown of Kansas City, about a 3-hour drive south of Omaha.
Even Jagodzinski and the Nighthawks coaching staff are getting some rest in, though it will be a working vacation. Jagodzinski said the Week 1 bye works out well for Omaha because it gives his staff an extra week of preparation for the team’s opener.
The Nighthawks will open the regular season on Friday night against the Hartford Colonials.
Kick off at Rosenblatt Stadium is set for 7:00.