The grass is always greener

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

His dream is to return to the NFL, but R. Jay Soward is making due in the CFL -- for now.

As he prepares for his second season with the Argos, Soward experienced an eye-opener about life in the CFL, both during the season and in the off-season by living here instead of returning home to California.

"I can tell you I know I'm getting paid like a CFL player," Soward said with a laugh. "Being a CFL player, you're just like a regular guy. You're not under the microscope like the NFL. It's looked at as a lower grade of football because it's not the NFL.

"It's not the way to me because guys are out there busting their butts off. I've been hit in the NFL and I've been hit in the CFL and it hurts all the same. The only reason I'd like to go back to the NFL is to make some money.

"Honestly, I could go to the NFL and play a couple years and I would probably bring my butt back up here. I love it here. It's not too demanding. It's your job and I take my job very seriously, but it's not very demanding on you. It's not like my whole life is football. I have other things to do. Canadian Football is four hours of my day."

In the off-season, he rationalized it didn't make sense to return home and opted to stay here. The 26-year-old moved his family, including four children ranging in age from nine to one. He has another one on the way with his girlfriend, DeNeesha, who is three months pregnant.

"If I had taken everything I made from here and went back to the States I would have been left with what I came with, which was nothing," said Soward, a former first-round selection in the NFL whose career was derailed by substance abuse.

Soward tried working in the off-season, but lasted only one day as a customer service representative with RONA.

"I couldn't tell anyone about anything because I didn't know anything about the product," he said. "It was kind of boring and really tough. I decided it's not for me and that's when I decided I have to go back to the NFL. If I have to get a job in the off-season playing for the CFL, I can't survive here."

He worked diligently to get in prime physical shape to play back-to-back seasons for the first time in three years. He is hoping to improve significantly from last year when ankle and shoulder injuries limited Soward to 12 games.

He'll start the season as the short side slotback after beginning last season as the short side wideout.

"I envision a lot of guys getting a lot of catches, maybe something like Montreal (which set a record last year with four players totalling 1,000 yards or more)," said Soward, who caught 15 passes, including five for touchdowns, for 336 yards.

"I'm not going to try to predict anything, but I see a lot of guys making a lot of big plays in this offence.

"We have a lot of talented guys and the quarterbacks are another year into this offence, so it's going to be big."


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