If Mike McMahon can master the nuances of the game in the CFL as quickly as he did Whistler on a snowboard, the Argos might have a bigger battle for the starting quarterback's spot than they realized.
Signed in February, the 28-year-old McMahon will be one of five quarterbacks in the hunt for top billing with Toronto when the main camp kicks off on Sunday.
A native of Pittsburgh, McMahon has 29 games in the NFL under his belt, and while he was a Detroit Lion from 2001-04, had a friend who introduced him to snowboarding. On a trip to British Columbia, McMahon gave Whistler a shot on his board.
"Three or four times down the mountain and I got it done," McMahon said with a laugh. "I guess athletes can do it a little more naturally."
McMahon, as many ex-NFLers acknowledge when they come north of the border to try to earn a job, has a slippery grasp of the CFL game. But after a couple of days of mini camp at Erindale, McMahon slowly is getting comfortable.
He did not play last season after he was released by the Minnesota Vikings early in September, but in 2005 started seven games with the Philadelphia Eagles in place of Donovan McNabb.
"There's an extra guy on the field, it's bigger, and there are different motions, different verbiage," McMahon, who spent the winter working out in Miami, said. "The main thing is learning the offence. But it's just football, and I have been doing it since I was 10, so it can't be that different."
The Argos brass has been presenting the quarterback position as a wide-open race, going so far as to tell Damon Allen the No. 1 job is not written in stone for him. But Michael Bishop could be ready to become a full-time starter.
"His record off the bench suggests he is ready to be a starting quarterback," coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons said during a conference call. "The difference is when (one becomes a starter) and teams can prepare for you and study your strengths and weaknesses."
McMahon has no intention of making the choice easy for Clemons and his staff.
"You never know, it could be a great chance to set up and play here for years to come," McMahon said. "It's an opportunity to get back on the field, and for me, that is the main thing."
Former Argos cornerback Ed Berry, whose interception in the 1991 Grey Cup helped the club win against the Calgary Stampeders, will be a guest coach at camp beginning June 10.