Very quickly after the Lions lost their West Division final to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this past weekend, news broke that record breaking and prodigious talent, QB Nathan Rourke would be working out with quite a number of NFL teams—he told the press himself.
Some fans were at a loss, despite the fact that it has to be understood that when an endeavor is embarked upon, whether it be sport, art or any number of civilian endeavors, the top platform of said industry is desirable indeed.
Perhaps there are only a select few that stay loyal to the lower echelons and become dominant and even legendary on that level. One man that comes to mind for me in the realm of professional wrestling is Sting…he decided never to embark on a WWE career (which is considered the majors of the pro wrestling industry), deciding to stay loyal to WCW and smaller companies afterward and became legendary on those respective platforms; as you’ll read in this piece, Bo Levi Mitchell is another of these men…
Historically, in the CFL, and in the Lions specifically, players like Lui Passaglia served 25 years with the team—his whole career—Al “Dirt” Wilson…15 years; William Norman “Mouse” Fieldgate served his entire career with the Lions as well.
Again, a player’s prerogative is indeed a player’s prerogative, but there is a portion of the fan base that couldn’t help but feel disappointed at this sudden prospect. What is fantastic to see here specifically though, is the gratitude that shows through in what Rourke has with the Lions; he is grateful for the team, his experience and yes, even at the possibility of staying if things go south…well, down south. A class act all the way, Nathan Rourke.
“I never had a true opportunity at the NFL level, not as a quarterback. And that’s always been something that I’ve wanted to at least try for a very long time…I’m fortunate to have an opportunity and see where that goes and understand that I have a heck of an opportunity still here with the Lions. And so, to me, it’s a win-win, really…
It’s one of those ones that you would have loved to have seen throughout the end and be able to finish on a better note…So certainly a bitter taste in my mouth from that, but there were a lot of great moments that we can look back on and smile and enjoy…
I told my agent that I didn’t want to hear about any NFL things during the season…I wanted to be able to focus and make sure all my chips were on the table and I was doing everything that I could to give everything I had to the Lions until the season was over. That’s the way I treated it…
I think playing is important. And being able to make an impact and trying to win is important…I think I have a great opportunity to do that (with the Lions). So it’s going to have to be a good situation (in the NFL). I don’t really know what exactly it looks like in terms of the specifics, but I know that we’ll know when we come across it.”
So essentially he’s leaving his options open, which is smart and again, is indeed his prerogative. Why not reach for the stars when the opportunity is ripe, eh?
In the end though there have been mixed reactions to these developments. Some believe that the star QB is indeed prodigious and may carve for himself quite the NFL career, as many others out there don’t feel as though he is quite ready for the NFL caliber of playing or level.
He did suffer an injury this year and the more physical world of the NFL can make him a tad more vulnerable, but at the same time he’s young and has loads to learn, many more scars to acquire and heal from, and experience to attain. But he is prodigious as stated…he shattered records his first year as a starter in the CFL, lest we forget.
What is sad however is that in the end this prospect takes away from the CFL…with the NFL, with their mega salaries breathing down the neck of a league that does well but pays very little to their players in comparison, it’s hard to garner for themselves players like Bo Levi Mitchell who content themselves with a CFL career and not only that but are proud of staying for the long haul, as he did with the Calgary Stampeders, as mentioned above.
Again, this news brings with it a plethora of emotions from an already frustrated BC Lions fan base.
The game against the Bombers was a well-fought battle but a loss nonetheless, and that’s always hard…hard for the players, hard for the aforementioned fan base …the possibility of losing their star QB in the process down the line, might just be way too much to bear right now at the threshold of the off-season.
The idea that a local in Rourke doesn’t plan on sticking with his home team (or is at least merely thinking of leaving), and that’s well within his right, as stated, is still discouraging. What does the CFL need to do to compete with those seemingly greener pastures of the NFL? Regardless, we wish him luck in attaining his dreams, wherever they may take him.
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