It was too good to be true.
Saleem Borhot’s first professional football appearance would have been against the same team he grew up watching in Calgary.
Unfortunately, the Edmonton Eskimos rookie could only watch from the sidelines after sustaining his first professional football injury.
“I had this one marked on my calendar the day I found out I was an Eskimo,” said Borhot, who was drafted in the second round, 12th overall, last month. “I just had an injury during the week. I’m not going to get into it because I’m not supposed to.”
He said it’s nothing serious and he’s looking to bounce back next Sunday in Vancouver against the B.C. Lions.
“It’s unfortunate but there’s something to look forward to, which is next week in B.C. for me,” said the 24-year-old St. Mary’s product.
Just being on the sidelines of a CFL game was an experience in itself, as Borhot studied the play of second-year CFLer Elliott Richardson in the safety position he’s also trying out for in training camp.
“He’s a guy that’s been here for a year already and knows the system well enough,” Borhot said. “He’s got a lot of knowledge that I can learn.”
Richardson started 12 games in place of the injured Scott Gordon last season and is living proof a rookie can come in and quarterback the secondary.
Although Borhot was drafted for his ability to fit into the Eskimos defensive scheme immediately, the rookie is not taking anything for granted.
“Elliott Richardson is a pretty good player himself and nothing’s given,” Borhot said. “I’m not going to be taking this job. I’m going to be there if they’re going to give it to me. I know that I’ve got to work for it. As of right now it’s Elliott Richardson’s and he deserves it, he’s a good football player.”
Borhot knows his time will come, but missing out on his pro debut against the Stampeders will have to remain a missed opportunity.
“Of course, it was really disappointing because there’s one thing every football player wants to do and that’s play in the game. You practise to play,” said Borhot. “I’ve got to keep my head up and get focused for next week and get healthy.”
The youngest of five children, Borhot’s entire family came up from Calgary for his new team’s first preseason game, despite knowing he wasn’t going to be playing.
“It’s only a three-hour drive,” Borhot said. “They’re probably going to be up for every game and they’ll be at the ones in Calgary, too.”
Borhot set aside tickets for his father, Ahmed, his mother Hoda, brothers Nabeal, Najib, Moe and his sister, Susan, who were his most important teammates on his way toward a career in the CFL.
“I’ve got a really good family and some good family support. That’s a really good example, they’re (at) a game that I’m not even playing in.
“Without my parents, this wouldn’t even be possible. The amount of things they’ve done for me, I mean, I left the house at 18 years old to go play junior and then after that I went to university.”