Mitchell Blair | Riderville.com
REGINA -- When John Chick realized his days in the National Football League were over, he didn’t have any anxiety. That’s because he knew he could return to the place from where he left with open arms and succeed which is exactly what happened.
Chick left the Riders to chase the NFL dream after a 2009 season in which he was named the CFL’s top defensive player. He ended up going from the Colts to the Jacksonville Jaguars and was starting to make an impact with the team before suffering a season-ending injury in 2012 that resulted in him never getting back to an NFL active roster.
The Utah State grad showed up in Riderville just as training camp started and it’s a decision he said he never regretted.
“I had a good opportunity in the NFL, but that opportunity ended. When the Riders made that call, there was no hesitation with me or my family, “Chick confided. “This was the place I wanted to be and there was no looking back as soon as the decision was made. I was honoured for the fact the team wanted me back and it ended up in great fashion so I’m obviously very happy.”
When he looks back at the season, Chick realizes numbers-wise he didn’t have the stats he had when he took the defensive player of the honour in 2009, but the numbers he put up were ones he was more than happy with.
“Numbers can be deceiving, “Chick said. “At the end of the day, I had the type of year I was hoping for and I stayed healthy which was the main thing. I believe I had just as good a season this year as I had back in 09 and that I was a better player than what I was when I left.”
While Chick admits to being a better player after his time in the NFL, he also feels he came back as a different player,
“I brought a lot more skill back with me.” Chick said. “There’s a lot less thinking and a lot more playing now. Back then. I was thinking about this and that and sometimes it took my overall concentration off what was happening, but I learned from a lot of great guys and coaches in my time in the NFL and I think it made me more complete. A lot of people said to me that I looked different and I think that’s what it was.”
Chick had eight sacks in the regular season and on Grey Cup Sunday, he was a monster that was too much for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats offensive line as he had two sacks, three tackles, a forced fumble and a knockdown. It was that type of player GM Brendan Taman expected to have when the decision was made to bring Chick back north of the border.
“We knew what type of player John was when he left and we knew he had gotten better in the NFL even though he had limited playing time.” Taman said. “He was also one of those experienced guys that we were looking for at the start of the season because he had been through it all in 2007, we knew he could come here and be a positive force for us. He came exactly as advertised and he turned out to be one of the best moves we made all year.”
Because of his time down south, some may have forgotten the fact Chick has now been in 3 Grey Cups in his four years as a Rider being in the 2007 and 2009 games as well. It’s something he attributes to a solid front office.
“We might do our things on the field, but we need the talent to succeed and I’ve certainly been blessed enough to be on some very good teams.” Chick said. “I’m very humbled at the fact I’ve had the opportunity to play in three Grey Cups and win two of them. It’s tough enough for a player in this league to win one, but I have two and hopefully I will have a chance at a few more before I am done.”
There is no doubt Chick will have many more opportunities over the next few years to help his football team get to future Grey Cup appearances. In doing so, he will leave many a quarterback shaking after having to deal with number 97 rolling through.