Everyday Einstein

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

As a kid, Jude Waddy would pry apart toys, mixing and matching components while trying to assemble a computer or some other mechanical monstrosity.

As an adult the first-year Stampeders linebacker, who holds a degree in kinesiology with a keen interest in other sciences, is tweaking and testing whatever he can get his hands on, hoping to one day patent a breakthrough invention.

"I destroyed a lot of toys in my day," grins Waddy, the mad scientist inside bubbling to the surface.

"Sometimes at night I can't sleep because of all the ideas, things I dream of inventing, and that can be a problem if you don't have an outlet."

Waddy says he has developed innovative ideas for football mouthguards, finger braces for quarterbacks, running shoes and home and garden supplies. Meanwhile, his list of interests -- including studying physics and biomechanics -- is seemingly endless.

Much of what he develops involves sports fitness and ergonomic designs.

"Basically, the way I look at the world, I look at something and say, 'Why hasn't anybody improved on it? Or, 'Why does that not work as well as it should?' Then I can find ways to make it work better.

"When you have a viewpoint like that on the world, you can look at anything and make it better.

"I need to develop a prototype and get the right people around me. It's expensive but if you get the right people around you who see the same vision you have..."

Waddy says failing to surround himself with the "right people" when developing his most prized invention led to disappointment and a most expensive lesson in life.

The former Green Bay Packer (1998-2000) says he developed an innovative mouthguard that allows quarterbacks to call out signals while reducing concussions and jaw injuries.

It would have been a humanitarian gesture from a man paid to inflict pain on high-priced passers but Waddy says the idea was stolen from him during the expensive and drawn-out development phase.

"We've lost so many athletes like (NFL quarterbacks) Troy Aikman and Steve Young, quarterbacks who don't wear mouthpieces because they can't communicate," Waddy says. "The mouthpiece I made was thinner and custom fit to your upper and lower so that you could still communicate but wouldn't get a concussion."

Waddy had been shipped to the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe in 2002 and was continuing to correspond with patent officials in the U.S. in an attempt to launch the product. He says he had a Maryland laboratory ready to crank out the mouthguard before eventually losing the patent.

"Unfortunately, I ran into some unscrupulous business people during the patent process, which is very long and expensive," Waddy says. "They knew I was a football player and they tried to take me for my money. In the end, I put a lot of money into it and didn't get the results. But the next product I develop, I'll be ready."

The 6-ft. 2-in., 225-lb., Washington, D.C., product cracked the Packers starting lineup in 1999, collecting a career-high 73 tackles.

Out of football all of last season, Waddy signed with the Stamps as a free agent and enters the CFL season as a backup.

He spent extra time at the end of yesterday's practice working on pass rush drills with d-line coach Casey Creehan, building his repertoire for the upcoming campaign.

"It's so challenging to be up here playing," Waddy says of his first CFL experience. "It's not just the same game, different uniform. I'm learning from ground zero again and that's exciting in itself. I'm not sure how long I'll be here but I'm very thankful for the opportunity."

Waddy turns 30 in September and this could be his last ride on the football carousel that has included stops San Diego, Denver and Tampa Bay.


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