At McMahon Stadium, Robert McCune is a rookie.
But before he signed with the Calgary Stampeders, the soft-spoken defensive lineman was a veteran, and there’s no doubt Nov. 11 is a significant day for the former member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
“I tell even guys on the team, all the time, some of the different things that I’ve seen and things I’ve been through and how tough it was,” McCune said. “It just kind of helps you be a better person. It was a really great experience for me because I come back here and I am playing football and doing the thing I want to do, and being over there just made me take advantage of everything I have because it can all be over before you know it.”
Prior to joining the Stamps, McCune spent eight years in the American military, including four in active service and four more pulling double-duty as a member of the National Guard and the football team at the University of Louisville.
During his active duty, the 31-year-old completed a handful of overseas assignments, including one year in South Korea, six months in Kuwait and six months in Afghanistan.
“What really sticks out is when I went to the different countries like Kuwait, Korea and Afghanistan, just seeing how blessed we are and seeing how different they live,” McCune said. “Not having clean water and some of them didn’t really have the food to eat, that was the big shocker to me. And it just made me realize how blessed we are over here to have clean water and be able to put clean clothes on our back and just appreciate the little small things.”
After brief stints with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns, McCune is appreciative of the opportunity to compete for a Grey Cup ring.
The Stamps will return to the field Thursday morning to prepare to host the West Division Final and will likely be in the middle of practice when the city stops to recognize the Armistice.
Because his father, sister and other family members also served in the armed forces, McCune will certainly find time to reflect on what’s known as Remembrance Day in Canada and referred to as Veteran’s Day south of the border.
“Veteran’s Day, for me, iS for the soldiers that put their life on the line day-in, day-out to keep us protected,” McCune said. “I have a lot of great friends in the military that are still serving and I even have a little nephew that’s over in Korea right now, and it’s just tough being in a foreign country. They live a lot different than we live and just being away from your family and just the hard work of doing your job and being a soldier, you just have to appreciate them for that.”