A BRAND NEW WEEK
It actually began on Wednesday when word broke Vince Young and his entourage were winging their way to Regina to sign a contract with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. From there, it was sheer pandemonium and I can't believe I enjoyed a front row seat for it all.
2 - There was a decided air of excitement in the brand new media conference room at New Mosaic Stadium on Thursday. Predictably, the room was packed to capacity with TSN3 and 620 CKRM set to broadcast the proceedings live. However what was different this time around was that a handful of seats in the front row were reserved for Young's crew. Just who would this include? We were about to find out.
At 12:00 noon, the doors flew open and in came the Vince Young Train which consisted of the free agent quarterback himself, his wife Candice, son Jordan, legendary football agent Leigh Steinberg and Young's business manager.
Suffice it to say, this was a whole lot more than us little ol' Reginans were used to.
3 - What followed was an approximately 40-minute news conference in which Vince Young said all the right things and conVINCEd the entire football world that this was no joke. The 33-year old Houstonian admitted to still being haunted by how his NFL career flamed out and he wants a "Do Over", while his body is still capable.
Having seen several photos of Young taken over the past few years in which his weight had ballooned, I was very eager to see what shape he showed up in for the announcement of his comeback (although Young prefers to call this an "opportunity").
However he looked great. There was no double chin, he looked fairly lean and athletic, and Young would tell us later in the 620 CKRM SportsCage studios that he currently tips the Toledo at 240 lbs. He plans to play at 230, carried on his 6'5" frame.
4 - The news conference was standard and respectful, but we got a glimpse of "Hollywood" immediately afterwards when the Young entourage posed for enough photos to make the Oscars blush. Super agent Leigh Steinberg sprang from his seat when the cameras came out, and DANG that man is photogenic.
He had me at "Hello".
Truth be told, Leigh Steinberg likely signed more autographs at Thursday's news conference than Vince Young himself! On the right is a photo of the signature Steinberg provided CKRM's Carm Carteri.
The whole event was head-spinning.
5 - Frankly I'm not certain what happened for the rest of the afternoon on Thursday however just after 5:00, Vince Young joined us in the SportsCage studio for a 30-minute 1-on-1 interview where he calmly fielded questions from the hosts and fans alike.
It immediately made Thursday's SportsCage one of the biggest we've had in our nearly seven years on air and I'll forever be indebted to the Roughriders for bringing their new star quarterback down to the radio station. It's not clear just why the Riders made Young available in person, but if it was a move to "sell" Young to the Rider Nation, it worked.
Again, the Texas Longhorns star reiterated that his past isn't one he's necessarily proud of but it's one he's eager and blessed to atone for. He repeated that money is not a motivating factor in this venture, since he owns a successful real estate business and chain of steakhouses in Texas. He's also employed by the University of Texas and is a regular on the Longhorn Network.
It was reported by 3DownNation.com's Justin Dunk on Friday that Young signed for $120,000 which is roughly the same as an NFL practice roster agreement. Perhaps that's how the Roughriders and Steinberg arrived at that figure.
|Thursday in the SportsCage with Vince Young|
And, Young is not a dumb man. He may have missed out on some key guidance earlier on in life, but last week he displayed the attributes of someone who's matured a great deal in his last two years out of the NFL, and he's very much on the road to being a well-respected businessman.
But first and foremost, Vince Young wants to be a football player again and is facing some incredibly long hours in the weight room and film room to get back up to speed in a hurry.
As Chris Jones said, "Vince knows what's ahead of him".
6 - By Saturday morning, Vince Young was back in Texas and did a live "double-ender" on ESPN's SportsCenter. Here's what he said:
VY: "First of all Coach Jones gave me a call in January and said, 'I got an opportunity for you'. I said 'What is that?' I thought it might be some coaching. But he wanted me to come play football and play for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. I thought it was a great opportunity.
"I always wanted to play football again, but I didn't know how it was going to happen. To me, my Mom always said 'God works in mysterious ways' and it's come back full circle. While I was working hard off the field, this opportunity came. I said 'Amen' and I'm happy to be a Roughrider right now."
7 - Will it work? Who knows, but that's entirely up to Vince Young. When he appeared on ESPN, I Tweeted "There's no turning back now" and many wondered what I meant by that. What I mean is, Young's been to Regina, braved the cold, and found out exactly what the Saskatchewan Roughriders have to offer.
None of what he learned last week deterred Young from making this comeback. Chris Jones and Leigh Steinberg both have said that you can see "fire in Vince's eyes" regarding this challenge, and I saw it for myself firsthand at CKRM.
Now ... CKRM's Luc Mullinder says it would be very easy for Vince Young to back out at any time, and go back to simply living his life in Austin. But then the naysayers and critics would have enough ammunition to say, "That's just Vince Young. He's never finished anything in his life."
That can't happen. Young will never be able to live with himself for the rest of his life if he throws in the towel before the Riders' Florida minicamp in April.
So now it's going to be endless hours of pumping iron and shedding pounds on the treadmill, and studying, studying, studying the CFL game. I wouldn't want to commit to that training regimen, but I'm not a pro football player. This is what they do.
Sure, lots of people in football are scoffing at this idea. That includes the media in Tennessee and even ESPN's Stephen A. Smith however Vince said he plans to "Make Stephen A. shut his mouth".
These people are unwittingly fueling Vince Young.
The vast majority of the Rider Nation are saying, "Sure, why not?" to giving Vince Young a shot but for Chris Jones, it has to run far deeper than simply extending a camp invite.
Jones - who we know knows football - thinks Vince Young can return to form and maybe even be better than ever before.
It's come time to "Make Vince Great Again".
8 - So just like that, with one stroke of the pen - Vince Young's signature on a contract - the Saskatchewan Roughriders are a big deal once again. There's no more, "I don't know who any of their players are!"
And the Riders' Florida minicamp April 25-27 at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, FL is going to be an absolute circus, whether people want to admit it or not. ESPN and TSN will be on hand to cover the event along with, I'm told, Fox Sports, NBC Sports and plenty of Regina media outlets.
Luc Mullinder said he's not looking forward to the "pageantry" of the camp, and that he'd prefer to focus on the football.
But I'm excited for both!
People can say "This isn't about Vince" all they want, but at least half of this venture is. All these American networks haven't come to Florida to cover the Roughriders in the past.
The other half of this is about Making The Riders Great Again.
By the way the minicamp in Vero Beach is open to the public and if you're a diehard Rider fan with some vacation days available, I wouldn't hesitate to come on down. There's plenty of space for fans to watch the workouts along the sidelines and all you need to bring is a lawn chair and some sunscreen.
For some travel tips on getting down there, don't hesitate to reach out.
|Friday night at HMCS NCSM Queen|
Yes, the Queen City is home to a Navy barracks and has been since 1923, right on the shores of Wascana Lake. Many of these officers fly to Vancouver Island or Halifax and board the ships from there.
Friday evening had all the traditions of the RCMP Regimental Dinners I've spoken at in the past, but with the twist of being in the midst of officers who've sailed around the world defending our nation and keeping the peace. The sailor I was seated beside at the head table was prepping for deployment to Sudan, and regaled me with stories which went well into the night.
The accomplishments of these men and women make mine look pretty puny, but they were eager to hear of my personal Recovery story. Afterwards they said they were very inspired, but I feel like I was the one who got the most out of the evening.
It was totally amazing and I was so proud to be there. Thanks again.
10 - Last but certainly not least, how about those Regina Pats? I'm so glad I never gave up on them! The Queen City Kids swept a pivotal home-and-home series with the Moose Jaw Warriors on the weekend, outscoring their archrivals 9-3. Friday's win clinched the East Division Pennant for the first time since 2014, and the Pats stuck it to each and every one of their critics in the process.
Outworked the opponent? Check. Won a goaltending duel? Check. Played unselfishly as a team? Check. They didn't leave anything undone.
I missed Friday's 5-0 victory due to the RCN Dinner (a small price to pay), but I was lucky enough to be able to broadcast Saturday's 4-3 victory across Western Canada on Access and Shaw. It was a doozy of a game, and I sure love calling games in Mosaic Place.
And now the Pats are just one victory shy of equalling a franchise record for wins (49) with four games remaining in the regular season.
All in all it was a stupendous week.
But something tells me the fun is just beginning.
11 - Hats off to Moose Jaw's/Abbottsford's Adam Hadwin for capturing the PGA's Valspar championship, and earning a spot in the Masters! Whoda thought another Saskie would win a PGA title before Graham DeLaet?
12 - And bravo to the citizens of Nanaimo, BC who last week voted 80% against the construction of a new 5500-seat multiplex in their community, which would have lured a WHL franchise. You just set your community back 50 years! Let me guess; Nanaimo is a retirement community full of selfish seniors and P.A.P. (People Against Progress) who have no regard for the future of the city, just so long as their taxes don't increase?
Sheesh. Way to go. How unfortunate for the youth of that community.
BIRTHDAYS: Happy birthdays today to Rider alumni Nealon Greene (40) and Terrell Maze (32)!
THAT'S ALL! SEE YOU ON THE RADIO AT 4