Unertl playin' it safe and winning

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:43 PM ET

TORONTO - Jeremy Unertl lives in Las Vegas in the off-season, but gambling isn’t his thing.

So when the Argos linebacker jumps into the play and makes interceptions, as he has the past two games, it’s not because he is taking a risk.

“It’s what you work for, and when you do it, it’s always gratifying,” Unertl said. “I expect it out of myself. Whether other people do, maybe they do now.”

Unertl’s path to the Argos, who signed the Wisconsin native in April, isn’t like that of the majority of Americans who have come north to play football. Unertl wasn’t a recent cut of a NFL club, and though he was a member of the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens years ago, was not drafted by an NFL team.

Unertl’s resume mostly consists of all-star seasons in the old Arena Football League, and it was his stellar play there that led him to Argos head coach Jim Barker. One of Unertl’s AFL coaches, Pete Costanza, now the receivers coach with Calgary, told Barker, when Barker was with the Stampeders, that Unertl was a guy to keep an eye on.

Barker took heed when he was hired by the Argos.

“When I look for halfbacks, I want guys who have played in downhill motion, and he had experience doing that,” Barker said. “It started in special teams — Osh (special teams co-ordinator Mike O’Shea) said he was always doing the right thing, things you can’t coach. He does the same things on defence, and that’s why he is able to make the plays he does.”

One oddity about Unertl: He turned 32 on Sept. 15. In real life, that’s young. In football, guys at that age usually have enjoyed their best years.

“I know that when you play this game, usually two things happen,” Unertl said. “Injuries cause you to retire, or you can’t find a job. When this opportunity arose, I looked at it as a fresh start. Age can be a factor, but I pride myself on being in the best shape and age becomes a number.”

Unertl has a finance degree and has worked in oil futures trading.

“Some of that stuff, my risk tolerance is not there,” Unertl said. “It’s not for everybody. I have such a competitive nature, I want to exhaust it before I go into the real world.”

But no gambling when he is back home.

“You are enamoured with it at first and after a while it is nauseating,” Unertl said. “Cha-ching, cha-ching. God, I don’t want to hear it anymore.”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca


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