Canadian Football League

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Former Canadian Football League player looking to coach

Wane McGarity is trying to blend in at the University of Texas several years after he was a campus star.
McGarity has returned to the classroom as a 30-year-old college student attempting to finish his degree. The ex-Cowboys receiver and punt returner is scheduled to graduate this month and hopes to get into high school coaching.
The San Antonio native is back in his hometown and makes the regular commute to Austin. When he's not in class, McGarity is a speed trainer at Xtreme Speed training center in San Antonio. He also remains close to the Longhorns program and has a radio show in San Antonio.
McGarity's blazing speed was his best trait during his playing days, which ended last year in the Canadian Football League. He played three seasons in the NFL. He also played three seasons with the Calgary Stampeders and one season with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL.
Did you ever think you would go back to school?
It was always important. From the first day I signed, I always wanted to get a degree from the University of Texas. I was lucky enough I got a chance to go back. It's very different being a 30-year-old student. I just sit at my desk quiet as a mouse.
How hard has it been stepping away from football?
I miss it all the time. I miss the competition of being around the team and going for that one goal. I wish I could have stayed in Dallas forever, from being a fan all my life. I wish it could have worked out. But I feel like this whole journey has been a success.
Did you think an NFL career was possible after three knee major knee surgeries?
I wasn't going to play. I already said that I had three knee surgeries, and I never thought I would have a chance. But I got lucky to get invited to the combine. I had pro aspirations as a sophomore in college. It was the way I bounced back and worked hard. I never showed any lost ability.
What was your lasting memory from your time in Dallas?
My rookie season scoring a touchdown against Denver in the preseason was big for me. I didn't care if it was the preseason. I was a like a little kid out there. I never thought I would be where I was. Those are stories I tell myself. It was all a dream. I did that against the defending Super Bowl champions.
Why do you think things didn't work out better in the NFL?
I didn't think I was a bad player, it just didn't happen. You just have to get the breaks. I felt like I was lucky to be in that situation anyway. I never thought I could compete with those guys on a day-to-day basis. I wasn't even going to do it going out of college.
Position: Wide receiver
Career: Cowboys, 1999-2001; Saints, 2001; Calgary Stampeders (Canadian Football League), 2003-2004; Winnipeg Blue Bombers 2005.
Age: 30
Residence: San Antonio
Occupation: Speed and agility trainer at Xtreme Speed in San Antonio and student at University of Texas.
Family: wife, Jessica
Notable: Fourth-round draft pick in 1999.... Had 38 catches for 348 and one touchdown in three NFL seasons.... Led Cowboys in punt returns in 2000 (11.8 avg.) and two touchdowns.... Had 117 catches for 1,603 yards and 11 touchdowns in three seasons with Calgary.... Had 14 catches for 123 yards for Winnipeg in 2005.... CFL West Division all-star in 2003 when he had 55 catches for 799 yards and six touchdowns for Calgary.... Returned a missed field goal 126 yards for a touchdown in 2003.... First UT receiver to produce 1,000-yard receiving season with 1,087 in 1998.... Holds single-game record for touchdowns (4) at Texas.... Owns longest reception in UT history with 97-yard touchdown vs. Oklahoma in 1998.

Former Canadian Football League coach knows his turf

John Huard knows all about artificial turf. When the Waterville native played for the New Orleans Saints in 1971, artificial turf ended what was left of a a promising professional football career.
"I tore my Achilles on AstroTurf when I was playing for the Saints in the old Tulane Stadium," Huard said. "That's bad stuff."
AstroTurf has gone the way of the eight-track tape player -- big in the 1970s, all but extinct today. The newer synthetic surfaces are much better. Huard knows about that too. He's owner of Northeast Turf, a South Portland company that recently laid down the FieldTurf surface for the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
You may have seen the high-speed video that shows Huard's workers laying in the new surface in about 15 seconds. It didn't go down that fast, but it went in quickly.
"It took a little over eight hours," Huard said.
Huard's company didn't prepare the surface, nor did it paint the lines. The painting would have taken another three or four days, but Pats owner Robert Kraft did not want permanent lines on the field because the New England Revolution soccer team also plays at Gillette.
Huard's son, Johnny, oversaw the on-site operation as workers sewed together panels 15x294 feet long.
"We used two crews on that job and four sewing machines," Huard said. "We probably have more equipment than anybody in the United States."
FieldTurf uses a mix of sand and rubber to simulate soil, and plastic shafts that mimic real grass. Huard's company spent a day pouring the rubber and sand into the surface. They then rolled it with a 10-ton roller, Huard said, "to give it the same feeling if you had played on it for a year."
A few days later, he and his wife watched the Pats play their first game on FieldTurf when Tom Brady and company beat the Chicago Bears. It drew positive response from the players, including Brady, who is 20-1 on synthetic turf.
The field was put in at a cost of $750,000 so it's no surprise that colleges and high schools are in the market for the product. Just about every FieldTurf surface in New England is Huard's since his company has the contract for the Northeast.
"Everybody wants it," said Huard, who began his company in 2000, two years after FieldTurf came on the market.
Huard's first FieldTurf job in Maine was at Howard's Sports Complex in Saco. Since then, FieldTurf has gone into Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland, at the Husson College baseball field in Bangor, at Hampden Academy and North Yarmouth Academy, among others. There is also talk, Huard said, of installing FieldTurf at Mahaney Diamond on the University of Maine campus in Orono.
Huard, 62, has never strayed too far from the game he grew up playing in Waterville. A star linebacker and Little All-American at Maine, he went on to captain the Denver Broncos. He has coached at Maine Maritime Academy where he was twice named Coach of the Year, and with several teams in the Canadian Football League.
He was coaching with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL when his friend J.I. Albrecht introduced him to FieldTurf. Huard flew to Pennsylvania to check out the new surface and came away impressed.
"I came back and said 'you've got something' " Huard said.
A month later, Albrecht had a heart attack, but Huard remained hooked on the product. He met John Gilman, the FeldTurf founder at a convention in Las Vegas and went into business.
"I guess I have the best of both worlds," Huard said. "I'm too old to participate, but not too old to watch athletes have fun."
Huard has published two football books about coaching and remains an avid fan.
"I enjoy the Patriots," he said. "I like what the coach does. I used to approach it in a similar way."
Six-feet and 220 pounds in his playing days, Huard thinks he could find a spot in today's game as an undersized linebacker. The size of today's players are just one of the changes the game has undergone.
"The young guys don't learn to play with pain," Huard said. "They get something wrong and they're out. Of course, the money so tremendous they don't take any chances."
The money was far less than in Huard's day, when players had to take off-season jobs.
"I worked as a probation and parole officer in Augusta my first year back from Denver," he said

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Canadian Football League All-Star will always be a Husker

When Barron Miles left the Montreal Alouettes for the West Coast, the results were the same for the eight-year Canadian Football League veteran — he was on the winning Grey Cup team.Miles played with Montreal for six years and won a Grey Cup (the CFL Super Bowl) and his team finished runner-up twice.This year, with the BC Lions, Miles helped lead the team from Vancouver to a 25-14 victory against Montreal in the championship game in Winnipeg, Manitoba.The five-time CFL all-star continues to dazzle football fans the way he did when he played for Nebraska from 1992-94.

Miles was the cornerback who helped lead the Huskers’ resurgence in 1993 and 1994 with his consistent and aggressive play.His performance against Oklahoma in 1994, when he intercepted a pass, blocked a kick and broke up three passes in a 13-3 NU win for a fourth consecutive Big Eight title, was almost typical of his performances in college.The Roselle, N.J., native set NU school records for pass breakups in a season and career, kick blocks in a season and career, and was named All-Big Eight twice.“I’m a Husker and I’ll always be a Husker,” Miles said. “They gave me a chance to play. And to this day, no matter where I am, when I’m with my teammates, guys from Kansas, Miami, Notre Dame, I show them what it means to be from Nebraska. We can be in Vancouver or Toronto, and I yell out ‘Go Big Red,’ and somebody answers, ‘Go Big Red.’ It’s something special to a lot of people and always will be.”After three years of trying to earn a spot on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster, he finally signed with Montreal and quickly became a crowd favorite.Miles received the CFL’s Tom Pate Award in 2004. The award, named for the former Husker who died of a football injury, is given to the player who embodies the qualities of Pate, including charity and sportsmanship. He was named the league’s rookie of the year, has earned the top defensive player award twice. This year, he had a personal-best 10 interceptions.Miles and his wife, Jennifer, are known for their extensive charity work, first in Montreal and now in the Vancouver area.“We’re West Coast, warm-weather people now,” Miles said. “Well, it’s not all that warm right now. But it’s warmer than Montreal is usually.”Now aiming to complete the final two years of his three-year contract, Miles is looking at his 12th year in pro football. “There’s me, Zach Wiegert (Houston Texans), Will Shields (Kansas City Chiefs) still going in pro ball,” Miles said of former Huskers still in pro ball.“It’s still fun and it’s still a kids’ game. Once I grow up and this gets too serious, I’ll hang it up. Right now, it’s too much fun to pass up.”Miles has switched to safety but is still in position to take over games. In a game against Calgary this season, he had three tackles, a forced fumble, a pass breakup and two interceptions. That kind of performance is reminiscent of his 12 tackles, a tackle for loss and three pass breakups in NU’s national championship game against Miami in the 1995 Orange Bowl.“I work out a lot, but I do it differently than when I was younger,” Miles said. “When you’re young, you lift and pound your body. Now, it’s more endurance and conditioning for the workouts.“I get those mornings when it hurts to get out of bed, but it’s almost natural during the season to have some of that after 15 years of college and pros,” he said.