CALGARY - His last job was a little too far from the action.
Or, perhaps, a little too close to it.
During a year-long hiatus from football, Calgary Stampeders linebacker Demetrice Morley earned his paycheques at Calhoun’s on the River in Knoxville, Tenn., a rib restaurant that’s located less than a mile from Neyland Stadium, where he spent three somewhat controversial seasons with the Tennessee Volunteers.
“When I had my job at Calhoun’s, I was still working during the season and it’s maybe five minutes from the stadium,” Morley recalled.
“When the guys scored a touchdown or a field goal, you could hear the fireworks. I know that feeling and I missed that adrenaline running and the crowd, the fans, being in the locker-room with the teammates …
“I missed all those things. That’s why this opportunity is just so big to me. Those are the things that I used to dream about and when I was at work, I used to think about all the time. To this day, I still have those dreams and I’m just trying to pursue them.”
Like so many other CFL newcomers, Morley is simply looking for a fresh start.
Ranked as the second-best cornerback in the country as a high-school senior, he was once quoted as saying he’d be “the biggest thing to hit Tennessee since Elvis.”
Instead, Morley was twice dismissed from the Volunteers program, first due to academic struggles in his sophomore season and two years later for a series of missed meetings and workouts.
Now a father of three, the 24-year-old isn’t making any bold proclamations about his future with the Red & White.
After serving ribs, delivering parcels and catering to feed his family, he just wants to earn his living on the football field. He seems to have made a strong first impression with the Stamps brass, emerging as a frontrunner for the starting strong-side linebacker job.
“I think I’m still the same guy, but I may have a different mindset. I mean, you’re not the same person your whole life,” Morley said.
“At some point in life, you have to think about things and realize what’s important and make better decisions. If you can do that, things will be successful around you.
“I had a year off and that kind of woke me up. I had a daughter Jan. 21 and to see my daughter’s face, I just feel like I have to do something. I have to pursue my dream.”
Following in the footsteps of a former Volunteers teammate and close friend would be a good place to start. Cornerback Jonathan Hefney was a nominee for the CFL’s Rookie of the Year award two years ago with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and after a brief look from the NFL’s Detroit Lions, is back in the CFL.
“Hearing about Hef and the things that he did, he’s a good person and he’s always going to work hard and I feel like
I can work hard, too, and be successful,” Morley said.
“I’m my own person and I make my own decisions, but I can walk in his shadows. He came in and did the things he’s supposed to do. It’s football — he loves it, I love it and this what I want to wake up and do until I can’t do it anymore.”