Canadian Football League

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Roberst hopes dream still alive in Canadian Football League.

The long football journey of Keion Roberts (Brandon) steered him away from Florida State (didn't qualify academically), down the path of Hinds Community College in Mississippi, Dixie State University in Utah and Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Next stop: The Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Roberts, a speed-rushing defensive end, recently signed a one-year contract with the Argonauts, fulfilling his dream of playing professional football.
Last year, Roberts said he thought the dream was gone.
``I still remember the doctor's words: `You have something called Crohn's disease,' '' Roberts said. ``You hear the word disease and it takes your breath away. I didn't know what was in store for me, I really didn't. I knew I was in for a fight.''
During his junior season at Midwestern State, Roberts' weight dropped drastically. He thought it was a stomach flu. He couldn't hold food down. The trainers were mystified.
Roberts, who dropped from 275 pounds to 208 in less than two months, underwent a colonoscopy when he returned home to Brandon for Christmas. It was then that he received the correct diagnosis.
Crohn's disease, an inflammation of the small intestine that affects the colon and parts of the digestive tract, is sometimes confused for other intestinal disorders.
``I'm so grateful that they figured out what was wrong with Keion,'' said Roberts' father, Greg. ``He could have died had that thing kept going. We were thinking the football was over, that it wasn't possible for him to come back.
``Personally, I was really skeptical. I didn't think I wanted him to go back to school and play after going through something like that. But Keion kept saying he was on a mission. He made it all the way back.''
Roberts withdrew from school and missed spring drills during his recovery period. Once he was healthy, and able to gradually regain his weight, Roberts said he felt better than ever.
``I've learned that you can never take your life for granted,'' said Roberts, 22, who also played on Brandon's state finalist basketball team with the Graham twins - Joey and Stevie, now at Oklahoma State - in 2000. ``Sitting in that bed, I kept thinking it could've been worse. I needed to make the most of my opportunity.''
Roberts, who reports to training camp in May, said he hopes the CFL will be a springboard to his ultimate goal, the NFL. During a tryout camp in Seattle, Roberts ran a 4.56 in the 40-yard dash, drawing immediate interest from the Argonauts, the defending Grey Cup champions coached by Michael ``Pinball'' Clemons, a former Dunedin star.
``The CFL game is made for Keion,'' Midwestern State defensive line coach Bryan Cross said.
The CFL field is 65 yards wide and 150 yards long (including both end zones), placing a premium on speed.
``I basically lived in the backfield in college, and that's what I need to do in the CFL,'' Roberts said. ``I need to chase that quarterback. That's how I'm going to showcase my game. I can't wait for the opportunity.''
An opportunity that Roberts nearly lost.


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