The first time I heard the expression 'Carpe Diem' was in the Robin Williams film, The Dead Poets Society.
That phrase was inscribed on a sign at the mouth of the tunnel during my college days at McGill. We used to tap that sign as we took the field each week.
Carpe Diem means to seize the day. And this past weekend, there was an opportunity for the Calgary Stampeders to seize the day. It also happened to be an opportunity for me to do the same.
First, and most importantly as a team, we were in a situation to prove to everyone and ourselves that we were headed in the right direction. The last time we played the Roughriders, we were trounced. Everything that could go wrong did. Saturday was an opportunity for redemption and to show we are a different squad from the one that took the field early in June.
Seize the day, we did!
The offence scored at will, the defence made big plays at crucial times, and special teams made some huge plays, as well. It was a day full of highlight-reel plays in all phases of the game. We will be the first to say that we did not play a perfect game but our great play overshadowed any mistakes. We won 44-22, and therefore, we can bask in the glory of that moment, as redemption was ours.
Everytime we, as players, step on the field, we have an opportunity to do something spectacular within the scheme and seize our own little moments. Whether it be a big catch, a sack, an interception or even something like a key block that springs the running back into the open field, every second of play is an opportunity for players to shine in an instant of time.
For myself, I had a few of those moments Saturday. I had a few tackles on defence and special teams. I picked up a Corey Holmes fumble on the punt cover team, which for me was huge in itself. However, the moment I will never forget as long as I live was the moment when I was able to answer the call and score my first professional touchdown.
You see, it is not often that a d-lineman/longsnapper gets to show off his receiving ablilties. In fact, most of us do not possess consistent prowess in catching the ball and that's why we play defence. I was very fortunate that coach George Cortez gave me the opportunity to play in an offensive formation that included, among its many plays, an option where I run out for a pass.
I have been asked many times over the weekend since the catch to describe the whole process.
Well, here goes for those who even care ...
First, Cortez signaled in the formation that I am a part of. We were one yard from the goal-line on first down. Our first play call was a quarterback sneak where Henry Burris tried to go over the top to score. He advanced half a yard. I thought we would surely sneak it again on second down.
To my surprise, they called the play where I release for a pass. On the play, I have to sell the run block for a few steps and then release. In the meantime, Hank rolls out trying to run the ball into the endzone. If he has pressure in his face, I am his outlet.
On Saturday, he had pressure, I looked up and the next thing I knew the ball was coming straight to me. As the ball approached, it felt like time stood still as I snatched it out of the air.
I knew I was wide open on the play and, therefore, there was even more pressure to make the grab. I can't even imagine how the guys would have ragged on me if I dropped it.
The funny thing is every time we've practiced that play, Henry was never covered so I never actually had a chance to catch a Burris pass until that moment.
The rest was a blur. I had done some sort of squat/ball spin thing in the corner of the endzone as Nik Lewis and Jermaine Copeland came to celebrate my baptism into the touchdown club.
It was a really cool feeling -- a first for me. And then I got to do something I have always dreamt about and never thought I would live out: I had a chance to snap the extra point for my own touchdown.
There you have it, my version of Carpe Diem.
In fact, an opportunity for all of us to live it. We can never recapture those brief moments in time when you have a chance to shine.
With any luck, we will make a habit out of seizing those moments and we will create awesome memories for our fans and ourselves.