After a season that left him battered and bruised and on the sidelines for six games, Kerry Joseph decided to help hire his own bodyguard.
At the suggestion of their star quarterback, the Renegades did the homework and ultimately signed Reggie Nelson, a 6-foot-4, 330-pounder from Louisiana who has spent the past couple of years coaching high school football and the U.S. power lifting team.
As a college freshman, Nelson was the left tackle for a McNeese State team that went 13-1 with Joseph under centre and Renegades quarterback and receivers coach Tommy Condell as an assistant.
"Reggie is a great football player ... I remember the great job he did on my blind side," Joseph said yesterday. "He's a real low key guy with a lot of fight in him."
Nelson, who becomes the largest of the 70 or so players at Renegades camp, made his debut yesterday. It was the first time he had stepped on a field in pads since 2002, when he was with the Green Bay Packers. Since college, he's also been with the San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jags and NFL Europe's Barcelona Dragons.
"I'm excited about being here and playing with an old college buddy, a good friend," said Nelson. "And to learn a little more about Canada."
Nelson is big on learning. He is a member of the National Honour Society in psychology and recently finished the academic work needed to finalize his graduate school degree (Masters of Arts in Counseling Psychology).
Along with coaching a high school offensive line, he has coached the "Iron Indians" and helped one boy and one girl set world records in lifting -- not that he's taking the credit.
"They owe it all to hard work," said Nelson.
With some hard work himself, Nelson could step from football oblivion into a starter's role with Ottawa. A key to Renegades hopes this season is the offensive line, and right now, its makeup is pretty much in question.
"He's 6-foot-4 ... both ways," coach/GM Joe Paopao said of Nelson. "He's a wide body guy. He's incredible.
"I think we'll probably wait until the last minute to decide if we're going with one import, or two imports or all Canadians. Our preference would be an all-Canadian line, but we'll see."
The Renegades went all Canadian on the O-line last year and it cost them. If they have any doubts about the personnel this time, it's highly unlikely they'll make the same mistake twice.
NEWS AND VIEWS: Lonie Glieberman is excited about "the buzz" created on the streets by news the Renegades are having a one-day only (June 25) $99 season tickets sale. How good can it be? Glieberman thinks selling 10,000 of the packages could be a realistic goal. That would be tripling season ticket numbers in a 24-hour period. Not bad ... It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Patrick Lalime! The former Senators goalie put free time this past season to good use, as he is now about 15 hours flying time from having his helicopter licence ... The truth of the matter is, commissioner Tom Wright wanted the Gliebermans back in the CFL about as much as he wants to see Earl McRae again. Not one bit.
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM...: Making Glieberman take a "media training" course next week in Toronto -- like the CFL is insisting on -- is a huge insult to him as well as the fans. Basically, Wright is telling him that he can't be trusted in public, that he needs to learn how to lie and/or say nothing of any substance whatsoever. On behalf of us all, Lonie should say something to the league: Shove your media training course. ... What the NHL really needs to do is hire someone like CFL director of communications Alexis Redmond. There's nothing about this lockout/strike that a few made-up quotes couldn't fix ... Markus Howell, who the Renegades signed as a free agent receiver over the winter, may flip over from offence to defence in Week 2 of camp. He was a DB with the Blue Bombers last year.