- Free Agency
John Rush was in his room, aimlessly scrolling through social feeds during his rookie season in the Canadian Football League.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers rookie’s phone pinged with a Twitter notification from one Tiff McLennan.
He’d been tagged in a hand-drawn picture of himself.
“Oh my god, someone drew a picture of me,” chuckles Rush a few years later. “For me, I’m this kid from Niagara Falls, and to have someone draw my picture I was like ‘oh, this is crazy’!”
It’s hard to quantify just how much McLennan, a 15-year-old from Yorkton, Sask., loves the Canadian Football League.
“I started to like drawing, (and) I liked football too, so I decided to draw some players,” explains McLennan, who was born with spina bifida and is wheelchair-bound. “People just really started liking them.”
While her father Brent and brothers David and Andy bleed Saskatchewan Roughriders green, Tiff prefers to remain neutral.
“I’m not really sure, I’m just a giant league fan,” says Tiff, who wore a Bombers jersey to this season’s Labour Day Classic. “But, I also really like the Bombers and Riders.”
“All the guys are pumped to get their pictures done,” laughs Rush. “They’re just like me, small-town kids from random towns and now we’re professional athletes — it’s kind of surreal when things like this happen.
“Tiff is able to make us feel special.”
The young artist from Saskatchewan is part of a larger community of CFL fans has existed on Twitter for a long time — one that does not go unnoticed by the legaue’s players.
“This niceness, this amazing family kind of community (that’s) going on,” I’m proud to be a part of it,” says Rush. “It’s cool to see this community grow and encompass those values we hold true as Canadians.”
From her first drawing of Foley in 2013, through her most recent one of Riders kicker Brett Lauther, McLennan has been supported by the league’s Twitter community.
“I get in touch through the drawings and talking to them, they’re really supportive,” says McLennan.
As for that Labour Day Classic dilemma, and having to choose between her two favourite teams?
“It’s kinda hard, but I wear my Bombers jersey, number 32, and so obviously cheer for John.”
Given her dedication to the league, I don’t think any Rider fans will begrudge her that.