Spill hits home for Stamp — literally

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:57 AM ET

Things are going swimmingly for Tom Johnson with the Calgary Stampeders, but the same couldn’t be said for his home back in Mississippi.

When the second-year defensive tackle came to Calgary for camp at the start of June, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had yet to hit his home town of Moss Point.

While Johnson has competed in training camp, winning a roster spot and likely a starting spot with the Stamps, the oil has started to reach the beach.

“I’m hoping for the best and preparing for the worst,” said Johnson, who is getting constant updates from his girlfriend and parents.

“That’s how my family is looking at the situation. I don’t see this coming to an end.

“There are big globs of oil washing up on the sand. They are trying to close the beaches. It’s a bad situation.

“I was watching the news a couple of days ago, and I still see kids walking on the beach. It’s awful.”

As bad as things are at home, Johnson couldn’t be having a better spring in Calgary.

Despite coming into camp as a reserve, the 25-year-old has worked himself into the first-team defensive line along with Charleston Hughes, De-Vone Claybrooks and Mike Labinjo.

Tearrius George was projected to be the starter at tackle, but Johnson has taken most of the practice time with the starting group.

Considering the disappointing season he went through during his first CFL campaign, it’s a bit of a surprise.

He missed the first two weeks due to the death of his grandfather, played in six games and then was a scratch for the latter half of the year, when George and Hughes came back from the NFL.

“Last year is in the past,” Johnson said. “You have to put that behind you. Coming in, I thought I was going to be a big factor and make a big impact on the league. It didn’t go as planned.

“Basically, I took everything in stride. I had a clean slate coming in this year, and I had to prove myself again. I take personal pride in what I do.

“When things don’t go my way, I try harder. I’m always fighting to prove myself. Hopefully, this year is my year to make that impact.

“Mentally, physically, things are on the up and up.”

Johnson’s hometown was just starting to recover from hurricane Katrina when the oil spill threw another curveball at the gulf coast residents.

His place is just two stoplights away from the ocean, and he can’t imagine what would happen if the oil keeps pouring into the ocean.

“It’s something that should have been prevented,” Johnson said. “These oil companies should have protocol so something like this doesn’t happen.

“There is a lot of wildlife down there getting destroyed. During this time of year, tourism is huge. You have a lot of different resorts there, and there is a lot of fishing, and this oil is making it real bad. There are even more people out of jobs. The economy was bad, but now it’s getting worse.

“I see it getting worse and worse by the day. I hope they get a solution in the next couple of weeks because it’s killing the gulf.

“So many terrible things have happened on the coast the past few years. Now we have another one.”


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