tampabay.com

Storm's Kaleo faces one of many former teams

Firebirds, Thunderbolts and Piranhas.

By DAVID MURPHY
Published April 29, 2007


Firebirds, Thunderbolts and Piranhas.

A bad dream?

An alt-rock band?

A Quentin Tarantino movie?

Nope: three of the 10 teams John Kaleo has played for in his 14-year Arena League career.

So you'll forgive him if he isn't bubbling like a 3-year-old on Christmas when the Columbus Destroyers arrive in town today.

"I've played against a lot of my former teams, " the Storm quarterback said with a smile.

Still, Kaleo isn't completely ambivalent about facing the team for which he started all 16 games last season. While he chooses his words carefully when discussing the situation, it's clear that he is disappointed in the circumstances that surrounded his departure from Columbus.

In August, the Destroyers swung a deal with the Georgia Force for quarterback Matt Nagy, despite having Kaleo under contract. But Kaleo didn't hear the news from anyone attached to the team, instead finding out secondhand through a friend.

Though he didn't have a spectacular 2006 season - his quarterback rating was a pedestrian 96.6 and his 19 interceptions were worst in the league - the veteran was stung by Nagy's signing.

"Personally, " he said, "it kind of hurt."

But he quickly pointed out that the Destroyers had "a right to do what they want to do, " and downplayed his desire to prove them wrong.

After all, it appears as if things have worked out for the better. At 36 years old and on the down slope of his career, Kaleo has spent each of the previous three seasons in different cities, all of them far from the Tampa home he shares with his wife and two sons. When Columbus traded for Nagy, he decided he wasn't going to play another season away from home. And when Shane Stafford signed with Orlando in the offseason, the road was paved for Kaleo to return to the Storm, where he had played from 2000-03.

"It was either retire or play for the Storm, " Kaleo said.

Thanks to a separated shoulder Stoney Case suffered in a loss to Orlando two weeks ago, he has that chance. Kaleo started the first four games of the season, but was replaced by the former NFL veteran after the Storm's 0-4 start.

He played well against Orlando, completing 22 of 29 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns in relief of Case, and now gets a chance to square off against one of his many former teams.

"You know good and well he's going to have (motivation), " Storm coach Tim Marcum said, "especially the way it went down."