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His story has been anything but predictable or straightforward. And it’s certainly featured more valleys than peaks, more heartache than joy.
Still, Rasheed Bailey is an eternal optimist and this is the chapter he wanted to write next – the one where he established himself as not just a regular in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiving corps, but as a legit Canadian Football League threat.
So while the pause button is still pressed on the CFL right now, consider how all this is affecting the Philadelphia product.
Cut by the Philadelphia Eagles, BC Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers before he appeared on the Bombers’ radar at a free-agent camp in Florida last spring, Bailey toiled on the club’s practice roster for most of last summer before earning his first start in the Banjo Bowl.
By year’s end he had started four regular season games – plus all three in the playoffs – in what was a tribute to his perseverance and his work ethic.
And now a full stop on all that momentum.
“It’s been hard for me because I felt like I was just catching that wave,” began Bailey in a conversation with bluebombers.com on Friday. “I’m still training like this is my year. But I hit 27 this week and once you hit a certain age you start thinking about your future and what’s next.
“It becomes very challenging. And, to say the least, lately I’ve been getting a little frustrated. I just want to know what’s going to happen because it’s hard to train and keep that same energy when you don’t know.”
“It’s hard because when you look at my story it’s like every time I catch a rhythm or some type of positivity, there’s always a challenge right there at the door. I just keep persevering. I’ll continue to fight and keep my spirits high.”
That last couple of paragraphs, in just over 100 words, might just best describe Bailey. He got his first shot at the pros with his hometown Eagles after starring at tiny Delaware Valley University and didn’t give up on his dream after getting released over and over again.
Looking back on that journey is why Bailey broke down during interviews on the eve of his first start in last year’s Banjo Bowl. It’s also why he was so elated to be on the field at McMahon Stadium in Calgary last November as the seconds ticked away in the Bombers’ Grey Cup win.
Now, let’s not paint the picture that Bailey is spending his days doing the ‘Why me? thing. He had just finished training when we caught up with him on Friday and just recently had helped conduct a football camp. And he continues to serve as a motivational speaker.
“I’m trying to do everything I can. It feels like you get one step closer and then we’ve got to wait, one step closer and then we’ve got to wait again. I’ve been trying to stay busy,” he said. “Most of all I’m just trying to stay positive and keep my sanity.
“You look at some of the things that are happening right now… this is all bigger than what we expected. I think it’s OK for us to just breathe for a second. There are other matters right now that are just that much more important. I believe something great is right around the corner.
“When you sit back and think about it, that’s what life is. We never know what’s next. We’re all living on the edge and trying to figure out what’s next and what we’re trying to do with our lives. We just HAVE to stay positive.”
Amen to that.