Shakespeare Baggs makes big plays
By MIKE THOMAS, Special to QMI Agency
|Ticats defensive end Stevie Baggs sacks Argos quarterback Cleo Lemon during at game at the Rogers Centre last fall.
HAMILTON - After spending time with half the teams in the CFL, defensive end Stevie Baggs feels like he’s finally found a home in Hamilton.
“There’s no question about it, I do feel comfortable calling this (city) home,” said the six-year veteran who joined the Ticats midway through the 2010 season. “As long as I continue to produce and play my game I know things are going to work out well.”
When Baggs signed with the Ticats last September he made an immediate impact, collecting 22 tackles, five sacks and scored two defensive touchdowns in only eight games — all the while establishing himself as a leader on the squad.
While being bounced around from team to team so often has been tough on Baggs, he knows the league and what it takes to be a pro football player.
On top of his six years with four CFL clubs, Baggs has also made his rounds in the NFL, the NFL Europe and the Arena Football League for a total of nine professional teams in his eight seasons since college.
“It’s not fun, I’ll tell you that much. Moving around, changing teams, changing leagues,” said Baggs. “It’s not cool but it does get you some diversity and some balance towards understanding the way things go and the intricacies of this pro football business.”
Head coach Marcel Bellefeuille hopes Baggs will fill some of the leadership void resulting from the departure of veteran Otis Floyd. The Ticats open the season Friday, July 1, at Ivor Wynne Stadium against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The Ticats went 9-9 last year, before losing to the Toronto Argos in the Eastern semifinal.
“We understand the main goal and what we really have to accomplish,” said Baggs, 29. “If effort is our edge we’ll always be able to make up for our own mistakes.”
Now that the Hamilton roster is set for the 2011 season, Baggs and his group on defence can work on what they really need to do to bring the Tiger-Cats to the next level.
“Now we have the opportunity to look at the game plans of other people and we try to make our game plan a lot more effective. Those are the main things you want to focus on,” said Baggs. “As long as we keep that mentality we’re going to be great.”
In his college days Baggs was given the nickname ‘Shakespeare’ by one of his teammates because of his ability to make big plays. Baggs has had fun with the nickname through his career and works hard to make the name relevant.
“It’s fun to have this name, it brings me a lot of attention but it doesn’t mean a darn thing unless I live up to it,” said Baggs. “My main objective is to continue to go out and make as many plays as I can for my team.”
Pack your Baggs
Steve (Shakespeare) Baggs' long road to Hamilton
COLLEGE: A standout in at Bethune-Cookman University, Baggs registered 40 sacks in the NCAA and was a three-time All-American.
2004-2005: Initially signed by the Detroit Lions, Baggs was released after training camp. He spent time with the Frankfurt Galaxy in NFL Europe before returning to the NFL for short stints with Detroit and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
2006-2007: Arriving in the CFL, Baggs spent time with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Edmonton Eskimos, having limited success.
2008: Continued to play in the CFL, seeing action in five games with Saskatchewan as well as playing in the Arena Football League.
2009: Baggs’ breakout CFL season playing the entire year with the Roughriders. Picked up an All-Star nod and was named CFL defensive player of the week three times.
2010 to present: Baggs returned to the NFL and played four games with the Arizona Cardinals. Released from Arizona in September, Baggs signed with the Tiger-Cats and made an impact on Hamilton’s defence. Baggs also gained 141 yards from three fumble recoveries in his eight games in 2010. He heads into 2011 as a big part of the team defence.