Willie Jefferson a natural on CFL+ CFL Combine broadcast

He didn’t suit up, didn’t make a tackle, or bring down a quarterback in anger. Yet, on the final day of the CFL Combine presented by New Era last Sunday Willie Jefferson did what he has so often done for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers: he was everywhere on the field doing his thing and dominating.

Jefferson, the Blue Bombers veteran defensive end, was given a microphone and had a camera follow him around during the final practice session of the Combine as CFL Draft prospects had one final chance to impress coaches and management from across the league.

And at one point near the end of the practice, Calgary Stampeder defensive backs coach and CFL Draft coordinator Dwayne Cameron – also mic’d up – suggested this after Jefferson offered some insight from the sidelines:

“Seriously, is there anybody right now that doesn’t believe that Willie Jefferson is a natural star for television? Maybe he should early-pivot on his career.”

Added CFL.ca hosts Marshall Ferguson and Duane Forde – along with Jefferson – and all in unison: “You wish.”

CFL COMBINE presented by New Era
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“I honestly think the TSN guys should be, ‘Yeah, we’ve got to pull this guy into the studio, sideline, wherever,’” added Cameron. “Anywhere other than where he lines up right now is good by me. There would be a major drop-off in the number of knockdowns, at least.”

“That was so much fun,” said Jefferson afterward in a conversation with bluebombers.com. “It was my first time doing the livestream for the CFL. Life after football… I always wanted to do media, whether it’s radio or television.

“But just being part of the league, it’s something I know, something I love. I like help motivating the young guys, especially some of them that look up to me and what I represent as a pro football player.”

The livestreaming was just part of what Jefferson provided through the CFL Combine. He was there every day during the event, joining Pat Neufeld and Shayne Gauthier as regular attendees. Both Neufeld and Gauthier spoke to the prospects Wednesday night at the Fort Garry Hotel, with Neufeld also a special guest in our latest Huddle episode on Thursday while Brady Oliveira made a visit on Sunday.

Jefferson continued his evolution as a walking, talking CFL ambassador, taking the chance to speak to anyone who would open their ears and listen during the event. And he offered this advice to players after the Combine, especially those who might have left disappointed in their showing.

“I got a chance to speak to some of the defensive linemen and linebackers, even some of the wide receivers. All I said was to enjoy the experience,” he said. “This isn’t the end of the world if you don’t have a great combine. It’s an important step in getting your name into an organization’s boardroom and get your name called on draft night.

“When you get an opportunity to make a play, make a play. Take advantage of your opportunity. Listen and soak it all up. This isn’t the last step at all. Some guys will still have pro days before the draft. Just continue to work, continue to try and get stronger and faster. Then camp comes and the opportunity is there to make a name for yourself. You might be at the bottom of the depth chart, but you come to camp, you make plays, you communicate well and listen in meetings… injuries sometimes happen and maybe you move up the depth chart and make the team. Then you do the little things by making plays on special teams and that gets you on the field and put more on your plate. Now you’re a story, right? Now you are a guy that maybe didn’t have a great combine but made it to a camp and now you’re on a team and now you’re playing.”

“You can be the guy who had a great combine but disappeared in camp. Or you can be the guy who maybe didn’t have a great combine and stuck it out and persevered.”

Watching the defensive and offensive linemen battle it out earlier on Sunday, Jefferson could also be heard offering tips and encouragement to those on both sides of the ball.

“There’s a possibility one of those guys might soon be my teammate,” he said. “So, if I can help him be the best he can be and then one day he’s making a play for us? That’s all I need.

“I’m not trying to be better than him or not have him make plays when he’s with us. I want him to make plays. I want him to be great and do exactly what he can to win. These young guys, I had the opportunity to be out here and help them. If I can help them somehow be better by winning a rep, I’m going to do that.”

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