Home Town Hero Comes Home
9 January 2001
By Bamaslammer - Birmingham Bolts Co-Reporter
- It was 1993 and my friend, a season ticket holder
at Alabama, left me two tickets he wasn't going to use
against Ole Miss. Alabama was a run oriented team coached
by a man who preached defense and the running game.
But the Ole Miss Rebels had different plans that day.
The Rebel defense shut down the Alabama running game
and by the half it was clear that the Tide was in trouble.
Jay Barker was the Quarterback that day and hadn't done
much other than hand off in his career thus far. But
Jay hadn't lost a game he had started at Alabama and
he wasn't going to quit now. He exploded for over 200
yards passing and took home the win.
later in a pre-season game for the New England Patriots
I saw Jay take over late in the game. The Patriots hadn't
played well that day but Jay was about to light it up.
He took the snap and rolled right and launched a cannon
shot down the sideline. The receiver had a step and
Jay hit him in stride for a long touchdown. I thought
for sure Jay had made the team on that one play, but
it didn't turn out that way as he was cut the next day.
Jay made one more shot at the NFL with the Carolina
Panthers but was again cut. Not finding success in the
NFL, Jay headed north of the border to Canada and the
Toronto Argonauts. Jay didn't get to throw many passes
for Gene Stallings at Alabama but in Canada with only
three downs it's pretty much a fire drill on every play.
He competed against another former SEC quarterback in
Kerwin Bell alternating much of the 98 and 99 seasons.
Injuries have slowed his progress since.
the Paul Finebaum radio show months ago the new GM of
the Bolts, Tim Berryman was asked about Jay Barker and
he said simply "We have talked to him". It
would seem a perfect match. Jay still lived locally
and had business and marketing interests here. But Jay
was one of the many players locked into contracts with
the CFL. The CFL contracts don't expire until after
the XFL season is underway and the CFL refused to release
the players early. Somehow from then until now Jay obtained
his release from Toronto and after clearing waivers
in the CFL Birmingham jumped on the QB. A spot was left
open when QB Jon Nielsen did not show up for camp, but
something tells me they would have made a spot if none
Jay has an uphill climb to earn a starting spot. Starting
QB Casey Weldon has been in all the preseason camps
and is ahead of Barker at this point. Signing Barker
is a home run for the local management who are grasping
at straws to convince a skeptical Birmingham area that
the XFL is for real.
Bolts are still not up to their maximum of 70 players.
One would have to wonder if there are any more tricks
up Tim Berryman's sleeve.