He's one Christian who wants to be thrown to the Lions -- and the Tiger-Cats, Alouettes, Eskimos, Stampeders ....
Londoner Christian Heffernan, a standout during his days as a Western Mustang wide receiver, signed a practice roster contract with the Toronto Argonauts.
Heffernan, 27, was drafted by the Ottawa Renegades in the sixth round of the CFL's 2004 Canadian draft and signed with the Argos as a free agent. He was in London, helping coach Mother Teresa Spartans high school football team, when he got the call last week.
"I had kind of written football off for a year," Heffernan said yesterday from Toronto. "I'd had a few calls from Europe and was looking at going over there in the spring, but nothing here. Then the phone rang. It was a huge surprise, considering last week I was working at a couple of bars in London."
Heffernan will have to be content for now to bide his time on the practice roster, but he's certainly in the right place at the right time if one of the regulars goes down with an injury.
"Obviously I'll need some time to learn the systems and I'm in no condition to jump in and play now, but hopefully that comes back to me quickly," he said.
At six-foot-three and 200 pounds, Heffernan was also a star track athlete at Western, shattering several school and CIS records in long distance running and short-track racing. He was a five-time all-Canadian.
He also had a background in baseball and was drafted by the Atlanta Braves. He played in the minors for three seasons and was released in 2000.
Heffernan, who attended St. Thomas Aquinas, had never played a down of football in his life when he tried out for the Mustangs after his baseball career ended. But he felt he could put his speed to use.
"He was a dedicated learner of the game," Mustangs head coach Larry Haylor said yesterday. "If you had seen him the first year, he could run but he had no idea where the ball was. But by the time he was finished, he was a very talented football player."
Haylor spoke to Argos' Canadian university scouting director Nick Volpe last week about Heffernan, "and Christian is what they're looking for. He's a speed guy. He fits that bill really well."
While the Mustangs' Homecoming game isn't until Oct. 1 against York, Heffernan has his own homecoming tomorrow morning. He'll be on the sidelines as Mother Teresa plays Banting in a United Way game at TD Waterhouse Stadium.
"That will be fun," Heffernan said. "I'd been with them since August and the hardest thing about coming up here (to Toronto) was leaving them."