Calanda Broncos HC Geoff Buffum will step in at QB when Swiss “friendly” season kicks off

When Calanda Broncos head coach Geoff Buffum discovered that first his team was going to actually play a “friendly” season in Switzerland and second, that according to a “gentlemen’s agreement” the teams would not be using import players, he simply looked at it as an excellent way to develop his Swiss players, including his quarterbacks.

There was a hitch though. The two candidates who had played quarterback in the Broncos youth program informed him that they could only practice once a week.

That wasn’t enough for a quarterback.

Buffum was faced with a dilemma.

Who could he find that knew the position and also the system?

It finally dawned on him. He was probably the only one.

He knew the system pretty well of course. And he had played quarterback before. The only thing is, the last time he played was 14 years ago when he led the Swarco Raiders to a 43-19 win over Germany’s Braunschweig Lions in the 2006 Eurobowl.

So he started to prepare himself mentally and physically for the task. He had already started working out for personal reasons.  Those workouts took on a new meaning once he had made the decision to play.

“For health reasons, I began to lose weight at the start of the COVID lockdown.  As talk of a fall season here progressed, I spoke with two players on our team who had played QB in our youth program.  Neither had enough time to commit to playing quarterback this fall.  Although both said they would play whatever I asked of them, they both expressed a desire to stay at their “regular” position.  Once the format of the season was announced with six games and no American imports, the idea of playing myself slowly seemed both possible and the best solution for this season.   No changes to the system, nobody has to learn a new position.  Everything we do this fall will carry over to 2021.  Except then we’ll have a real quarterback again.

His credentials were not shabby. To say the least. Before leading the Raiders to four Austrian Bowl finals, winning in both 2004 and 2006, Buffum played quarterback at Azusa Pacific leading them to the NAIA national championship.

Geoff Buffum in action against La Courneuve Flash Photo: Zimmermann

There was another problem though. Buffum himself is an “import” of sorts in Switzerland. However, since he is deemed a “local”, married to a woman from Chur, where Calanda is based and has lived continuously in the country for more than five years with a residence permit, he is eligible.

Still, at 44 and 14 years distant from putting on the pads, he had a ways to go to even imagine getting back on the field as a player and not a coach. He started slow he said and gradually picked up the pace.

“At first, it was just eating healthy and walking/hiking during the lockdown.  I progressively added weight training and running into my routine.  Now I train just like any football player would getting ready for a season.  Maybe just a bit more carefully.”

For a quarterback who has played at a high level, arm strength is pretty important. For a quarterback who is 44 and hasn’t played for a decade and a half, it’s more than arm strength, but Buffum realizes that:

” My arm was Rusty. As. Hell.  It’s been hard to accept my “new” physical limitations.  It is now about as good as it’s going to get.”

According to Buffum, the players were positive about the change in quarterback but he admits that he will be looking to stay inside the pocket for the most part.

“I rarely left the pocket as a young man, so I don’t see myself going anywhere as an old one.  I’m going be surrounded by an incredible amount of talent, so it’s not going to require anything special on my part to move the football.

As every coach knows, the support of wives and families is critical. Add the duties and responsibilities of being both head coach and starting quarterback, and and that support is that much more important. And according to Buffum, he has it in abundance.

“My wife has been incredibly supportive. She has taken on at least 10-15 hours extra/week alone with our daughter so I would have time to go to the gym every day.  She works a 80% job herself so it’s been a real sacrifice of her free time.  There’s no way I could have done this without her support.”

Buffum will play his first game in more than 14 years on August 15 when the Calanda Broncos play at home against the St. Gallen Bears.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.