Where are they now?

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:17 PM ET

As a sports franchise mogul, Brian Wiggins has a ways to go.

But the former Calgary Stampeders receiver has taken the first step.

"I was a couple of dollars short and couldn't afford the Houston Texans," he said with a laugh.

Wiggins, who spent two seasons with the Stamps in the mid 1990s, owns the Houston Energy of the Independent Women's Football League.

"I love football and wanted to stay close to the game," said Wiggins, 40. "A buddy of mine asked me to come coach this women's football team. I was like, 'C'mon dude! Women's football? Is it flag football? Powderpuff?' and he said it was the real thing.

"I went to a practice and was pleasantly surprised, so I ended up coaching, ended up the head coach and fell in love with the girls.

"We've got a lot of awesome athletes, girls that ran track or played basketball, volleyball or softball in college and wanted to continue. We have a few girls that played in the WNBA.

"They're good athletes that don't truly know the game of football, but they love it and play for the love of the game."

He said the level of play is around high school junior varsity in the football-mad state of Texas.

After leaving the Stamps following the 1995 campaign, Wiggins spent a few years with the expansion NFL Carolina Panthers and retired from the game in 1999.

He successfully made the leap to the real world and owns a mortgage company -- First Choice Mortgage .

"I've been truly blessed," said Wiggins.

"I got shocked when I tried to get a job. You're used to making X amount of dollars and don't have a sense of what real life is until you go from the NFL to trying to get a regular job with your degree and resume. I was shocked to find out people wanted to only pay me $40,000 for 12 months when you'd make that in a week in the NFL.

"So I started my own business and it's worked out tremendously. You take the same work ethic you had in football and apply it to business. I started in my own house and now have 20 employees."

Among those employees is former Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Don Narcisse, who is a loan officer for Wiggins' company.

As good as the business has been for Wiggins, it's been a tough go of late with the mortgage crisis that's crippled the country's economy.

"We were closing upwards of 30 loans a month, now it's more like 10. Sometimes closer to five than 10," he said.

"But we're gonna ride the wave. A lot of my cohorts have shut their doors, but we're still standing.

"Hopefully, when everything turns around, we'll be fresh on peoples' minds."

At least he has his football team to lift his spirits.

"It's not a big money-maker but something to do in my spare time, but I love it," said Wiggins, whose squad has been to a half-dozen league championships and won the big game three times.

"We have a good time, and they truly appreciate everything you do for them."

Wiggins had a couple of quality seasons with the Stampeders and kept in contact with some of his old teammates, but admitted not traveling to the Stampede City for 10 years.

"I keep saying I'm going to go catch a game, but I've said that every year and time passes and I don't get around to it. The weird thing is I have several friends who I didn't play ball with I stay in contact with," he said.

"I'll get there sooner or later, just get a ticket and sit in the stands."


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