Murphy's road to CFL tough

BILL LANKHOF -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:10 PM ET

This may just be the mother of all life-altering moments.

Two weeks ago, Frank Murphy was single, unemployed, living in Jacksonville, Fla., and wouldn't have recognized a rouge from lipstick.

Today, he's married, living in Toronto and preparing to make his CFL debut tonight at slotback with the Argonauts.

New team, new city, new wife, new country, new league.

"Sometimes I kind of look around and think: "Where am I?' " Murphy admitted yesterday after practice.

"But it's a good feeling. A few weeks ago I didn't have a clue where I was going."

Murphy didn't even sign with the Argos until June 10.

"I was waiting to hear from the NFL but the Argos had been asking me to come down for a while and I talked it over with my mom and my fiancee."

He got advice from Argos quarterback Michael Bishop, Murphy's former teammate at Kansas State.

"He told me about the team, the tradition it has here and I thought it would be a great experience."

So, he showed up about a week before the team's pre-season finale last Thursday.

He crammed to learn offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto's system.

He showed speed and, says Buratto: "He has great fundamentals, a good understanding of the game."

Not to mention he can block, which can put just about any player in Buratto's good books. He wasn't quite so lucky with his fiancee, who was waiting back in her home in Chattanooga, Tenn., to get married.

"We'd arranged our wedding on an NFL schedule. I had no idea I'd be playing football," Murphy said.

"I've been coaching her about what a pro football player's lifestyle is like but this is the first time she's had to face live bullets."

She was spittin' a few, too. Evidently. Although Murphy was doing some nifty footwork dancing around the topic.

"I've learned when you plan a wedding you can't stop the wheels, you can't even slow them down. And, if you want to change something you go: 'Ah, darling, could we' ... and boy, you get that look that says: 'You're asking me to do WHAT?'

"I learned it's best to keep my mouth shut and let the girl have the wedding."

So, after playing Thursday night in Montreal, he took a 5 a.m. flight back to Tennessee on Friday.

He said "I do" on Saturday. He and his wife, Candace, were on a flight back to Toronto on Sunday to get the official word that he'd made the Argos roster.

"It's been a lot of changes. It's been a busy week,'' Murphy said.

"First, I was nervous about getting married; now I'm nervous about playing my first game (of the regular season)."

He'll share playing time with Patrick Johnson, run some pass routes, and is being counted on to replace Robert Baker's blocking ability.

An all-state running back in high school, he was a year behind Bishop at Kansas State and played receiver positions during pro stops in Chicago, Tampa, Houston and Miami.

"I remember my highlight moment with Mike. I was doing a wheel route. He just chucked it, and everybody knows what a great arm he has,'' Murphy said of Bishop's throwing prowess.

"He threw it about 60 yards and I had to go get it. I dove about five yards to catch it ... that's when people started looking at me as a guy who could catch, too."

Now he's catching on to being an Argo.

Fan Day, he says, was great fun.

He already has learned the Argos' franchise dates back to the 1800s.

"That's incredible," he said.

"I love history like that."

He has watched so much game film any day now he'll figure out that rouge thingy is not something he'll find in his wife's purse.

In Tampa and Jacksonville, he started the Frank Murphy Foundation, which distributes toys to kids and says he'd like to get involved in something similar here -- once he figures out where "here" actually is.

"I didn't have any idea what Toronto would be like but just driving around I've gotten a good feeling about the city."

So, that makes it unanimous. The Argonauts seem to feel the same way about Murphy.


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