- FREE AGENCY
The off-season news doesn’t usually start to pick up until we get close to the official start of free agency. But that hasn’t stopped the coaches from dominating the headlines. With the hiring of Craig Dickenson to replace Chris Jones we now stand at four new head coaches for the upcoming 2019 season.
Each of these gentlemen has their own unique journeys to their respective current positions and most of that information can be easily found on their team bios. What I wanted to do was dig around a little bit in their past and find some fun facts, some tidbits that you may have missed. So allow me to rip off the great bit ‘Better Know a District” from ‘The Colbert Report’ and let’s all try to get know these new head coaches a little bit better.
Craig Dickenson = Saskatchewan
All right, I’m not going to lie to you, finding anything unique on Coach Dickenson was nearly impossible. I blame that on the fact that he never played at a professional level and his impressive coaching background was within the confines of special teams. The offensive and defensive coordinators get all the love while the special teams coaches, unless your name is Mike O’Shea, often get lost in the shuffle.
But I did find one fascinating fact about Dickenson’s past that I have never seen before. Back in 2011 Craig was a certified snowboard instructor at Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana. I have never heard of a coach with that particular skill on their resume. Now I want to do a piece on which coaches you could never imagine teaching snowboarding. Kinda feels like Jerry Glanville would be at the top of the list.
Orlondo Steinauer = Hamilton
The newest Tiger-Cats coach also doesn’t leave a massive cyber trail concerning his past. I doubt there is a more athletic family unit among the nine CFL coaches than what can be found in the Steinauer household. The same year (1995) that saw Orlondo named as Western Washington Universities’ top male athlete of the year also saw Gina Sampson win the same award for all female athletes at WWU. Gina and Orlondo met there and were later married. Meanwhile their daughter, a member of the Southern Connecticut State University women’s basketball team, is the Division II leader in both rebounds and double-doubles.
Speaking of double-doubles, I found this old Tweet from 2013 by Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons about Orlondo:
“Reason No 5524 why I love the CFL. Lined up at Tim’s 2 hrs before Eastern Final, just ahead of me was Ticats D coordinator Orlondo Steinauer.” I enjoyed that image.
Continuing on the theme of newspaper writers, if you want to read a good interview with coach Steinauer check out this recent piece by Steve Milton from The Hamilton Spectator.
DeVone Claybrooks = BC Lions
Did you know that, according to his mother, it was a spider bite that indirectly led to Coach Claybrooks winning a Super Bowl? It’s true! (Kind of) In the summer of 2002 while a member of the Rhein Fire over in NFL Europe, Claybrooks was bitten by a poisonous spider on the practice field. His leg swelled up to dangerous proportions and his season in Germany was abruptly ended as he was sent back to Alabama for treatment that saw him lose 50 pounds and he needed months to recover.
This would lead to his release by the Cleveland Browns and then his eventual new home with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who would have a need for Claybrooks after a season ending injury to defensive tackle Anthony McFarland. Flash forward to Super Bowl 37 with Claybrooks on the roster as a member of the Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers. All right, maybe that is more of a series of coincidences and random actions than fate, but I prefer the idea that it was all because of a spider bite, just makes for a better story
DeVone’s nickname as a player was Biscuit and you can see that influence today on his Twitter account which is @biscuit9595. His account will make you hungry as you will find lots of delicious food shots with the caption being “Chef Biscuit Strikes Again!” My favourite food pics are the BBQ shots or a plate of steak, lemon pepper asparagus and mushroom truffle risotto. Not only does the BC Lions new head coach love food, he knows a great deal about it as he was once a part owner back in the day of two restaurants: Cubbie’s in North Carolina and the Green Iguana in Tampa. Coach actually started as a busboy at Cubbie’s before working his way up to one of the owners.
Finally, DeVone knows his horror movies, with some of his favourites being ‘Friday The 13th’, ‘Paranormal Activity’ and ’The Exorcist’.
Here he is talking all things horror films on a TV hit with Breakfast Television Calgary in 2016.
Corey Chamblin = Toronto
While I am a big fan of Coach Claybrooks’ past Twitter feed, the same can’t be said for the Argonauts head coach. Look, I am not one of those people that combs through celebrity Twitter feeds to find offensive Tweets from when they were teenagers, but this post on Sept. 22, 2017 really triggered me. It has the acronym T.G.I.F spelled downwards and in Corey’s world it stands for “The Grind Includes Friday.” Shame on @CoachChamb. My Friday includes a light workout at best, some drinks, bad food and hopefully I can work in a nap
The one thing that Chamblin and Claybrooks have in common is they both were members of the 2004 Rhein Fire team. From what I have found, Chamblin was at no point bitten by a spider while kneeling in practice.
I appreciate Corey’s honesty. Back in 2007, his first ever interview for a job in the CFL with Winnipeg went horribly because, as he admits, “I’d never even seen a CFL game.” He managed to get the job thanks to some help from now former Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Chris Jones. This little anecdote also speaks to Chamblin’s work ethic to go from his CFL knowledge base in 2007 to where it is now a dozen years later.
If you do a deep dive into Chamblin’s past you may read that he intercepted Dan Marino in Marino’s final game. That is in fact false — he never picked off Marino — BUT Chamblin did block a punt in that playoff game that saw his Jacksonville Jaguars whoop up on Miami 62-7. Sure, it wasn’t the pivotal play of the game, but that blocked punt did lead to a James Stewart 25-yard touchdown run that gave Jacksonville a 31-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Finally, a tip of the cap to his answer for the Grey Cup traditional question about the opposing coaches’ feelings about players having sex the night before. Here’s his quote: “It’s all about football. It’s championship week and the guys, if they win a championship, will get a lot of it.”
Well said coach.
Wishing all four of these men will be able to answer that question at a Grey Cup sooner rather than later.