He may be right-handed, but an injury has given Kenny Wheaton a whole new perspective of life as a lefty.
Wheaton, who will begin his third season tomorrow night as a starting defensive halfback for the Argos against the B.C. Lions at the Rogers Centre, has fully recovered from nerve damage suffered in his right hand. He suffered the injury two-thirds of the way through the regular season last year and played with the problem afterward -- at times having to leave games because of the intense pain -- while wearing a soft cast. He managed to set a Canadian Football League record with a 116-yard interception for a touchdown in the Eastern semi-final against Hamilton, picking off a pass with his injured hand and cradling the ball.
The injury cleared up about 1 1/2 months after the final game, in which the Argos beat B.C. in the Grey Cup.
His injury forced him to do things with his left hand, which gave him an interesting perspective on being a southpaw.
"On the football field it helped me to use my other hand a lot more," he said yesterday.
"I've always relied on my dominant hand, whether it's to jam a receiver or to hit with the forearm. But this injury made me use both. I had no choice. I had to. It made me a better player in that sense. You have to understand you're used to having two hands and (the right hand) is your dominant hand. It would have been much easier if it would have been my left hand, but it was my dominant hand."
Off the field, he used his left hand as much as possible.
"The only time I really used (my right hand) is when we had a couple breaks and I went back home to Dallas and I picked up my little (girl Kendall)," he said. "Other than that, if I didn't have to use it, believe me I didn't use it. I didn't have any strength so I had to start doing a lot things with my left."
He still tried to write with his right.
"I just had to hold the pen or marker different," he said. "Believe me, I'm terrible with my left handwriting, but driving, everything, I had to with my left hand."
LION OFF HIS BACK
Pinball Clemons is hoping that the Grey Cup victory by the Argos will help distance Damon Allen from his years with the B.C. Lions.
"I hate playing B.C.," said Clemons. "It's too important a game for (Damon). Hopefully, winning the Grey Cup will help cement him as a Toronto Argonaut ... I think the anxiety of thinking, 'My old team is in town,' should be gone.' "
Clemens isn't happy about playing the Lions in his season opener.
"I was at the Queen's Plate draw today and I know you can have a bad draw. B.C.'s a bad draw for us."