In a sense, Rob Murphy is ready to make his debut for the Argonauts.
Signed by the Argos in February of 2009 to star on the offensive line, Murphy, like so many of his returning teammates, wishes last season never happened.
“For me, it’s about forgetting last year,” Murphy said on Saturday as Argos veterans reported to Erindale for medicals.
“I want to erase it from my memory. We’re just ready, collectively, to turn the page.”
Think Murphy is glad that the Argos hired Jim Barker, who knows the Canadian Football League as well as anybody, as head coach?
At times last year, it was obvious Murphy was biting his tongue. It was clear to many observers that former head coach Bart Andrus didn’t know what he was doing, and inside the locker room it was not much better.
“Ask anyone — our offence was predictable, it was just bad,” Murphy said. “I guarantee you this, the coaching staff is not going to treat it like they did last year, like a summer beer league. That’s the mentality they had. It wore on everyone, it wore on me. Just some of the stuff that was said after games, it was like ‘Okay, we’ll try again next week.’
“(The new coaching staff) has experience and we will be held accountable a little better.”
The Argos’ offence finished last in many categories in 2009, and the offensive line did not help, aiding in the league-high 55 sacks allowed. Murphy, a starter of all 18 games at left tackle, had a tough time mentally, enduring some off-field personal issues, and partly as a result, did not play to his potential.
“It’s all cleared up,” Murphy said, electing to not elaborate. “I’m ready to go. I’ve talked to a few guys back home and they’ve said, ‘This is the Murph we know of two years ago.’
“Am I happy with how I played last year? No. I am the first one to tell you that.”
The 6-foot-5 Rob Murphy that will be on the field on Sunday will come in at 325 pounds, more muscular and stronger after he was listed at 307 pounds at the beginning of last season. He has dyed his hair black and was wearing it in a ponytail on Saturday. He had his ears pierced during the winter and his lobes were adorned with black buzzsaw-type studs.
A father of triplets, Murphy looks like the kind of guy you would not want to meet in a dark alley. But as along as you’re not a CFL opponent, you would be okay.
“It’s just going back to being me, not conforming to anyone else,” Murphy said.
“It’s my rebirth to how I used to be and I feel good. All I have to answer to is the guys in the locker room and the coaching staff.”