Canadian Football League

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Former Canadian Football League Quarterback joins Atlantic Football League team.

The Erie Freeze of the Atlantic Indoor Football league are proud to announce the team has agreed to terms to acquire former NFL, CFL, and Indiana University quarterback Tommy Jones.
Jones will vie in the Freeze’s first training camp for the team’s starting quarterback position in the 2005 season.
The acquisition of Jones, along with the previous signing of former Buffalo Bills QB David Dinkins, brings the number of quarterbacks with NFL experience in camp to two. Competition for the starting job should be intense and the benefits should be enjoyed by Freeze fans.
Freeze Head Coach and General Manager Mike Esposito welcomed the opportunity to have two proven “gunslingers” in camp.
"I am more relieved than Wyatt Earp after the shootout at the O.K. Corral. When you can have two guys that have taken NFL snaps on one arena team, the combination equals a tag team that will be a force to reckon with and give opposing defensive coordinators nightmares," he said.
"But the greatest aspect is that both Tommy and David will have the opportunity to experience Erie, PA, before their next jump into higher leagues."
Jones started six of the eight games he played for the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders in 2004. He made an immediate impact north of the border when he passed for 284 yards with a 28-for-50 passing performance against the Ottawa Renegades.
In his second start for the Stamps, he shredded the Blue Bombers of Winnipeg for four touchdown passes.
Jones finished the 2004 season with a 52% completion rate while throwing for 1,237 yards and seven touchdowns.
The 6’3”, 235-pound Jones displayed his mobility and field awareness by rushing for 147 yards on only 18 carries with two touchdowns.
In 2003, Jones was one of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals final cuts after participating in the team’s passing camp, mini-camp, and training camp.
Bengals quarterback coach Ken Zampese added, “Tommy is a hard worker, diligent, and a team player, who has pro potential. He picked up our offense quickly, got along with his teammates, and developed a good chemistry with the other quarterback.”
At Indiana, Jones overcame injury to claim the Hoosiers’ starting pivot job in 2002 and 2003, completing 103 of 208 pass attempts for 1176 yards with 11 touchdown passes.
Jones recorded his most productive games by firing five touchdown passes against William & Mary and Michigan State in 2003.
Many draft pundits listed Jones as one of the nation’s top quarterbacking prospects in the 2003 draft.
Brian R. Redden, Jones' agent, is enthusiastic about Jones’s and Erie’s agreement for the 2005 season.
“I am very pleased for Tommy to be able to come to the Freeze. Erie is a great football town and Coach Esposito has worked very hard to put a winning team on the field and has succeeded in building a high-class organization."
"I am sure that having Tommy there will put the Freeze in a great position to succeed,” said Redden.
Jones and the rest of Erie Freeze hopefuls will descend on Erie, PA March 31 to report for training camp that opens April 1.
The Erie Freeze kickoff the 2005 season April 16 in Johnstown, PA. The Freeze open its home schedule April 23 at 7 p.m. in Tuillio Arena against Richmond.
For more information on the Freeze schedule, season tickets or employment opportunities, log on to the team website at or call (814) 454-0200.
The Atlantic Indoor Football League is the hottest new professional football league and will kickoff its inaugural season April 16, 2005. For more information about the AIFL, visit, call (330) 453-2860 or contact Joey Josephs, Director of Media Relations, by phone at (321) 356-5379 or by e-mail at

Friday, March 18, 2005

Former Canadian Football League Player joins Middle Tennessee

Middle Tennessee Head Coach Andy McCollum announced today the hiring of Derek Jones to his staff. After five seasons at Murray State as secondary coach, Jones will be in charge of the Blue Raider cornerbacks.
"We're excited to have Derek in our program," McCollum said. "He's energetic, is a good teacher, and has been very successful in his young career. Derek will be a great representative of our program and University."
Last season, Jones' secondary played a major role in Murray State ranking 11th nationally in total defense and 23rd in scoring defense. Jones tutored two first team all-conference players in 2004 with Laroni Gallishaw and Onsha Whitaker. Whitaker registered seven interceptions in 2004 to rank fourth nationally.
In 2003, Jones' secondary was instrumental in leading the Racer defensive unit to a No. 2 ranking in pass defense.
Jones joined the staff at Murray State in the spring of 2000 after serving as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Mississippi, for more than a year. Following a professional playing career, Jones returned to Oxford to serve as a graduate assistant coach.
Jones enjoyed a stellar playing career at Ole Miss, earning second-team All-SEC honors as a junior and senior cornerback. As a senior, Jones served as the Rebels' permanent team captain and won the prestigious Chucky Mullins Courage Award, given annually to the Rebels' best defensive player. For that honor, he also wore Mullins' No. 38 in his senior season, winning the Team Leadership Award that year.
Following his senior season, Jones was selected to play in the 1996 Blue-Gray All-Star Classic.
In addition to football, Jones was also a standout in track and field at Ole Miss, earning All-American honors in the 4x400-meter relay. A member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity at Ole Miss, Jones was a fraternity scholar from 1994 to 1996. Jones graduated from Ole Miss with a bachelor's degree in public administration in 1996.
He played professionally for the Toronto Argonauts and Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League and the Nashville Kats of the Arena Football League. After a ruptured disk ended his playing career in 1998, Jones returned to Ole Miss to begin his coaching career.
A native of Moore, S.C., Jones was a standout in both football and track at Woodruff High School. He was an all-state selection as a defensive back as a junior and senior in addition to being the team MVP in those years. He was also a three-time all-state pick in track and field.
Jones is married to the former Naketa White of Oxford, Miss. The couple has a daughter, Madison, 6, and Jones has a daughter, Darquisha, 12.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Oddi trying to make it in The Canadian Football League.

Brian Oddi started the 2004 football season and senior campaign at California University with high hopes.
A 6-0, 225-pounder, Oddi was one of the PSAC's premier linebackers after being No. 2 in tackles with 128 and was a Don Hansen Football Gazette Pre-season All-American.
The 2004 season, however, turned out to be a big disappointment.
In the sixth game against Edinboro, Oddi's campaign came to an abrupt end when he tore his MCL.

The odds of Oddi ever playing football again didn't look promising.
Oddi's football playing days, however, aren't over.
He signed this week to play for the Ottawa Renegades of the Canadian Football League.
"I'm excited about getting the opportunity to play in Ottawa," said Oddi, a Canadian native of Waterdown which is three hours away. "My leg is probably stronger now than when I played."
Oddi credits Pittsburgh Penguins' trainer Mark Mortland.
"He was my personal trainer for a month," noted Oddi.
The California gridder has made enough of a recovery that he's running on the school's 100 meter relay track team, working with assistant coach and former Olympic gold medalist hurdler Roger Kingdom.
Oddi is being recruited as linebacker but could also be moved to free or strong safety where he played in a Canadian League as a schoolboy.
"He has tremendous athletic ability," said Joe Paopao, who doubles as Ottawa's coach and general manager. "He has good coverage ability and he can tack;e."
Oddi had 128 tackles as a junior and 50 in 2004. The Vulcans were 4-1 with Oddi in the lineup before he got hurt.
Oddi will report to the Renegades in May with the CFL season opening June 7.
The Renegades are coming off a 5-13 showing.
Other linebackers on the team are Penn State's Reggie Givens and Auburn's Chris Schilling, who was with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1995-96.

Doug Flutie back in The Canadian Football League?

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have contacted Doug Flutie to see if he's interested in a return to the CFL, Team 1040 radio station reported Wednesday.
The Team interviewed Doug's brother Darren Flutie, a former CFL receiver, who said his brother had been approached by at least one CFL team about a return to the league. Darren Flutie also said his brother had been contacted by several NFL teams, and was also pondering retirement.
Doug Flutie was recently released by the NFL's San Diego Chargers.

Former Canadian Football League Quarterback signs in AFL2

The Albany Conquest of arenafootball2 announced the assignment of three Canadian international players today. Quarterbacks Tommy Denison and Chris Hessel join wide receiver/defensive back Curtis Nash as the Conquest’s latest roster additions for the 2005 season. The Albany Conquest will play their home opener against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers on April 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Pepsi Arena.
“Playing in Canada these young men put up spectacular numbers at their respective schools and I feel comfortable that they should have no problem adjusting to this environment,” said Albany Conquest Head Coach Richard Davis.
Denison, who will be an af2 rookie in 2005, played at Queen’s University (Canada) where he won the Hec Crighton Trophy as the Canadian Most Valuable Player in both 2002 and 2003. “The Hec Crighton Trophy is the Canadian equivalent of our Heisman Trophy,” said Coach Davis. Tommy Denison garnered that award for two straight years in Canada so that speaks volumes as to his talent level.”
The 6-1, 210-pounder holds the top single-season passing mark in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) history with 3001 yards in 2002. He also holds the Ontario University Association (OUA) single-season record of 24 touchdown passes and single-game passing record with 561 yards. In 2004, Denison went to training camp with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League (CFL) before being picked up by the Calgary Stampeders (CFL) for the remainder of the season.
Hessel, a 6-0, 215-pound af2 rookie, was a three-time league all-star at the University of Western Ontario. He is second all-time in both the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) and the Ontario University Association (OUA) with 9,004 career regular season passing yards. The Ontario native also left as the Mustangs all-time leader in career attempts (997), completions (583), passing yards (10,176), and touchdown passes (72).
“Chris Hessel amassed impressive numbers at the University of Western Ontario and he is a tough QB,” said Coach Davis. “We have a high caliber of quarterbacks entering camp next week in Tommy, Chris, and D. Bryant (Bryant started 12 games for the Conquest in 2004 throwing 52 touchdown passes).”
Nash, 5-8, 180-pounds, will be an af2 rookie with the Conquest in 2005. He played at St. Mary’s University (Canada), where he was 1st Team All-Canada as a defensive back for the National Championship team in 2001. In addition, Nash was an Atlantic University Sports (AUS) All-Star during the 2000 and 2001 seasons. He also led the AUS with five interceptions and was selected as the team’s Defensive Most Valuable Player in 2001.
The Albany Conquest, a proud member of the Arena Football family, are entering their fourth arenafootball2 season.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Fake Canadian Football League Player?

Seven months after questions about his job application and background led to his dismissal at Morse High, football coach Stewart Roper is on the verge of being hired at Hiram Johnson High in Sacramento.
Johnson High Assistant Principal Cyndi Swindle said the school "plans on hiring him, but it's not official yet. I don't want what happened at Morse to happen here, where people jumped the gun and procedure isn't followed."
Roper was officially discharged from Morse because his job application was found to be incomplete. His dismissal came 13 days after he was announced as coach and five days after The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Roper had made false or unverifiable claims on previous job applications. He also was fired or resigned under pressure from at least two of his four jobs since 2001, according to previous employers and others who knew him.
Roper told The Sacramento Bee that the Union-Tribune stories were false and that he received an apology from an editor at the paper. First he said the apology was in print, then said it was verbal, according to the Bee. However, no apology was ever issued.
Additionally, his résumè for the Morse job and the Johnson job said he played in the CFL. But Roper is not listed on any CFL all-time rosters.
"I looked on the all-time rosters of the CFL, and no, I didn't find his name," Swindle said. "He told me who he played for and said he had been corresponding to the league."
The Union-Tribune obtained a copy of an e-mail Roper sent to Winnipeg Blue Bombers alumni director Cathy Garski requesting to be added to the team's all-time roster for the 1968-69 season. Asked about the e-mail last year, Garski said she tried to verify Roper's claim by contacting several members of that team.
"No one remembered him, and he wasn't in the team photo," Garski said. "I was skeptical at that point. I don't think he's legit. I get this once in a while. Lots of people like to pretend they played for the Blue Bombers."
Roper also stated on his résumè for the Morse job that he had published a book with Coaches' Choice. In fact, he had not. His résumè submitted for the Johnson job has been changed to say he's working on a book for Coaches' Choice, according to Swindle.
Roper has not coached a high school football game since he was dismissed after a three-game stint at Blythe Palo Verde in 2001. Roper disputes the reasons that were given for his departure there. Parents and players had accused him of rough treatment, including limited water breaks and derogatory language.
In June 2002, he was named coach at Bloomington High in San Bernardino County. Eight days later, he was dismissed because the school found inconsistencies with his résumè. Swindle said she wasn't aware of what happened in Bloomington.

Life on the road for former Canadian Football League assistant general manager.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Dan Rambo, the Broncos' Ottawa-based scout who canvasses the Northeast, spends 150 days per year on the road assessing and evaluating talent.
Sounds like a lot of time away from the family, right? Perhaps, if you view the proverbial glass as half-empty. Rambo, a full-time scout for the Broncos since 1998, refuses to view it that way.
"One-hundred fifty days, and that's light. I know (fellow Broncos scout) Greg Miller spends more time than that and a lot of guys spend more than that," Rambo said. "But the other side of it is that I'm home 200 days a year -- and I'm at home. I'm not in an office."
There was a time that he was. Rambo spent over a decade in the Canadian Football League, spending most of those years with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in different capacities, including director of scouting, director of player personnel and assistant general manager.
Rambo's career in the administrative side of football began in 1983, following several years in which he tried out with eight different teams in three professional leagues. While Rambo's career didn't happen by design, it wasn't by accident, either.
"Timing was everything," Rambo said.
If you ask Rambo about the best player he's seen, he can't answer that. "Finding" a player isn't a matter of individual discovery; it's the product of joint evaluation, a system of checks and cross-checks that allows every player to be evaluated four, even five times by Broncos officials.
"I'm in such the mode of team effort in discovering players," Rambo said. "That is not something that's in my mind. I see that as a little self-appreciating."
"I knew a guy in my last tryout with the Raiders who ended up in Canada. In 1983, four years had gone by (since the tryout in Oakland) and he ended up as general manager in Saskatchewan.
"I wasn't even thinking about (working in football), to be honest with you," Rambo continued. "I think once I went up there to look over the facilities, he promised to help me along with the things I didn't know -- which was just about everything."
A decade of work in the CFL -- including one year as the Ottawa Rough Riders' general manager -- led to his first crack with the Broncos in 1993.
"I came down to do part-time work for the Broncos," Rambo said. "(General Manager) Ted (Sundquist) was here then."
After that year, Rambo returned to Saskatchewan for four years. Then, the Broncos came calling again in 1998 -- with a different administration and something more permanent.
"I think everybody had pretty much moved on except Ted and I think I was kind of looking at other things too in the CFL again," Rambo said. "I really liked it up there, but it was timing. You kind of get an itch every once in a while."
Working for the Broncos scratched it. Within one year he collected a Super Bowl ring as the Broncos won Super Bowl XXXIII.
This year marks Rambo's 23rd in professional-football personnel work. But his growth continues.
"You're always learning in this business," Rambo said. "The more people you get around, the more that you realize you don't know and have more to learn. I think when you stop learning it's time to get out."
One thing Rambo did learn was how much easier he has it than his scouting brethren in basketball, baseball and hockey.
"Football is a finite business; there's only so many places (that you can find players)," Rambo said. "It's not like hockey where you're looking at every corner of the world and looking at them when they're 15 (years old) ... it's a much more finite business than the other sports.
It's a rough life on the road for the Broncos' scouts. But it's essential to building a competitive football team, as the team's scouting staff are the club's eyes and ears in breaking down personnel from coast to coast -- and beyond. Over the next few weeks, we'll spotlight different members of the Broncos' scouting staff, as their year-round work takes center stage in the weeks leading up to the 2005 NFL Draft.
"It usually can be quantified and i think over the years I've come to respect other people's opinions -- other scouts."
And over the years, he's learned how to function away from home -- and under unusual circumstances. Once last fall, that meant watching tape at Akron University in the morning, driving 354 miles to Blacksburg, Va. and watching tape of Virginia Tech's prospects in the late afternoon and early evening.
Then, the next day, he was northbound, 103 miles up Interstate 81 and 32 across Interstate 64 to the University of Virginia. And every such trip means getting to the schools at the right times to watch practices and game tape.
"It gets convoluted sometimes," Rambo admits. "But the best thing is -- the more you do this, the more people you know who can help you out."
And never did he learn that more than on a visit to Boston College. He awoke in his hotel room to the news that his car had been broken into overnight. As police filed their report, Rambo flagged down a taxicab and rode to the campus in suburban Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Rambo watched tape. BC officials helped him find a shop that could repair the broken glass in his car. By the end of the day, the car was repaired and he'd taken care of everything he needed to accomplish in his scout's duties.
"It was just a normal day," he continued. "You just get the job done. It may not be the way you wanted it, but you just go with the flow."
Such is life for Rambo, be it on the road or at home.

Battle of Two Canadian Football League Quarterbacks.

The CFL quarterback carousel stopped spinning long enough for Khari Jones to step into an Edmonton Eskimos uniform yesterday. That means the roller-coaster ride is over for the 33-year-old pivot, who landed in the unemployment line when the Calgary Stampeders signed Henry Burris.
Jones reportedly earned $375,000 last season as Calgary's starter. A nine-year CFL veteran, Jones will earn about a third of that under the terms of his one-year, plus an option, deal with the Esks.
In an effort to nip any potential quarterback controversy in the bud, rookie head coach Danny Maciocia made it crystal clear where Jones sits on the depth chart.
"Jason Maas is the starter going into training camp. There's no question about that," Maciocia said. "Khari's coming in here as the back-up. I expect them both to come in and compete."
Jones as the Esks' No. 2 pivot is clearly an upgrade from Boise State product Bart Hendricks, who was Maas' backup last season.
During five campaigns with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Jones set 18 team records and tossed a CFL-leading 46 touchdown passes in 2002.
Dealt from Winnipeg to Calgary late last September, the five-foot-11, 195-pounder wasn't looking to ruffle any feathers after being introduced to the local media.
"With the weapons they have and the tradition that they have here in Edmonton, I thought it was just a perfect opportunity," said Jones, the CFL's most outstanding player in '01 and a starter in his last five campaigns.
"I've definitely learned over the years you can't worry about if you're given a job, or if you're starting or if you're not starting.
"I don't think I've ever looked at myself as a backup or anything like that. I want to go out and play, but that's up to the coaches and the coaching staff.
"I'm just here to help this team win any way I can. If Jason is out on the field, I'm going to help him. I'm sure he'll do the same for me. It's about working together."
Toronto and Hamilton also pitched Jones. In the end, the Esks prevailed. Clearly, Jones in a backup capacity is a luxury few CFL clubs can afford.
Although Maas had surgery on his throwing shoulder in early December, he's not tossing the football around yet.
By acquiring Jones, the Green and Gold could be hedging their bets against Maas being ready when training camp opens May 28. However, Maas nixed that notion.
"Right now I'm on schedule," said the incumbent starter. "They said I'd be throwing in March some time and I'd be ready to go at the end of May.
"We're not there yet, so I can't say for sure. The way I'm feeling right now and the way I'm handling my rehab, it seems like I'm going to be ready.
"I would have already liked to have started throwing and I'm not. Hopefully, before April 1 I'm throwing. That still gives me two months."
Jones was examined by the Green and Gold medical staff yesterday. The medics pronounced Jones' wonky right shoulder fit and the University of California-Davis product did likewise.
"I had a slight shoulder problem last season but they sat me down for a few games," he said.
"I was able to finish the season.
"I've been throwing the ball already and everything is great.
''I've just been checked out here and things are good."
Like Jones, Maas has had his share of ups and downs with injuries.
Taking over from Nealon Greene as the No. 1 midway through the '01 campaign, Maas appeared to have the job locked up until sidelined by injury, which opened the door for phenom Ricky Ray.
Maas regained the starter's job following Ray's departure for the NFL. Now that Jones is in camp, Maas will have to battle to keep his job.
"I think it's good to be pushed all the time; I think that's what makes you better," Maas offered.
"I firmly believe any time I've ever been around good quarterbacks I've upped my level of play.
"You have to do that if you want to continue to play and continue to perform."

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Two Players-Two Dreams-Two Leagues- Canadian Football League- Arena Football League II

Former Western Mustangs quarterback Chris Hessel is getting a shot at the pros and so is the big fella who was his best blocker. Hessel, a 29-year-old Londoner who amassed most of the Mustangs' career passing records in his four years as the Ontario university team's starting pivot, has signed on with the Albany (New York) Conquest of the Arena Football League II, which opens its 2005 season next month.
Geoff St. Denis, an all-Canadian offensive guard who protected Hessel on pass plays and was lead block for many of tailback Randy McAuley's dazzling touchdown runs, signed a two-year deal with the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers and will try to win a roster spot at the team's training camp in three months.
"Training camp is 10 weeks away, not that I'm counting," said St. Denis, a Londoner and former Catholic Central high school star. "I had sent out my tapes to the contacts I had for the various teams. I didn't expect to hear back for a while. But about a week later . . . the phone rings and it's Brendan Taman, the general manager of the Blue Bombers. He told me they're interested and wanted to sign me."
Western head coach Larry Haylor feels both can stick if they make an impression in their respective camps.
"I always thought Chris would do well in the arena league because it's all about hanging in there in the pocket and being tough -- and Chris is very tough," he said. "Geoff is going to have to take it practice-by-practice and prove he deserves to stay. He'll be one of the fastest in camp and they'll give him a good look. The CFL isn't in a position to invite fodder these days. You're there if they think you're pretty good."
St. Denis, who played last fall at six-foot-two, 285 pounds, quickly gained 10 more pounds in the past two weeks, which he considers a necessity to measure up with the big-boy bulk in the CFL. He's working out every day with former Mustang Jason Congdon, who spent a couple of years as a long snapper with the Bombers.
"I've never had better workouts in my life than I have the past few weeks," St. Denis said. "We go to the gym and work extremely hard. I have this opportunity and I'm going to do everything I can to give myself a chance to make it."
The CFL chance marked an attitude shift for the 24-year-old St. Denis. He was a talented, yet cocky, player in college ball but he plans to let his blocking do the talking in Manitoba.
"I just want to keep my head down and work hard. In a way, I was kind of hoping there'd be no other Western players there," he said. "Then, I find out Winnipeg signed (former Western lineman) Mike Abou-Mechrek in the offseason from Ottawa. So I'll have a connection on the O-line there and I'll really feel like the rookie again after years of being the veteran telling the rookies what to do."
The Mustangs, who are entertaining potential recruits this weekend, had three players confirmed to participate in the Canadian university East-West Bowl all-star game at Waterloo in May.
Andy Fantuz, who missed last year's game with a hamstring injury, running back Randy McAuley and defensive lineman Tom Dolezel will take part in the game.