Canadian Football League

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Profile of Canadian Football League player

THEN AND NOWInjury cut short Wheaton's career with CowboysBy RICK HERRINStar-Telegram Staff Writer
Kenny Wheaton is gaining a fierce reputation in his attempt to get back to the NFL.
The ex-Cowboys defensive back has become a star for the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League and is regarded as one of the league's most punishing hitters.
Wheaton, a third-round pick who played in Dallas from 1997-99, had a knee injury end his stint with the Cowboys and leave his career in limbo. But after a grueling two-year rehabilitation, Wheaton got his career back on track.
Wheaton, 30, just finished his third year in the CFL, shining on defense in a league made for offense. This season he was an East Division All-Star and led all defensive backs in tackles. He helped lead the Argonauts to the Grey Cup Championship in 2004.
What's it like playing in the CFL?
You have to put in a lot of film work. But what I found out is it's still just football. To me it's not farfetched from the NFL, other than the fact the field is wider and you play with an extra guy. It's a very exciting league, and it's a dream for quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs. It's a passing league, and if you call yourself a DB you will be tested.
Who is the most talented CFL player you have played against?
I have truly been surprised by the talent. I would have to say it's [wide receiver] Jason Tucker of Edmonton [formerly with TCU, Cowboys]. He's fast, he is consistent and has great hands and can run all the routes. His speed and consistency are what's scary.
How hard was it dealing with a knee injury that put you out of the NFL so early?
It was tough. ... I had never heard of anyone going in for a scope and not being able to exercise or run for almost two years. I went in to repair meniscus and came out and the doctor told me I had a nickel-size hole in my kneecap.
Do you think you will get another shot in the NFL?
I would love another chance. It's tough to watch because I truly believe, given a chance, I can play this game. If any NFL scout is watching, they will see that I can play. It's something I think about daily. I came out and I expected more out of myself, and I think the Cowboys did. It hurts to see guys you played against still playing [in the NFL] and you're not.
What impact did playing with Deion Sanders have on you?
Deion doesn't get the credit he deserves for how smart he was over the years. He used to watch film and break down what a wide receiver was going to do, and I have taken that from him. I am a student of the game, and I have taken that to the CFL, and it has helped a great deal.
Kenny Wheaton
Position: Safety, cornerback
Career: Cowboys, 1997-99; Detroit Fury (Arena) 2002; Toronto Argonauts, 2003-current.
Highlights: CFL East Division All-Star in 2005. ... At 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, regarded as one of the league's top hitters. ... Set a CFL postseason record with 116-yard interception return in 2004. ... Led CFL defensive backs in tackles in 2005. ... Started in Grey Cup championship victory in 2004 and had seven tackles. ... Played in 15 games with Cowboys in 1998, had one interception and returned a fumble 15 yards for a touchdown. ... Cowboys' third-round draft pick in 1997.
Age: 30
Occupation: Starting defensive back for Toronto Argonauts.
Residence: Allen
Family: wife Franchell; daughter Kyndall (15 months


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