Rob Murphy, already adorned with six tattoos, has an appointment to get two more during the off-season.
The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Argonauts offensive tackle will have ‘Hooray for me’ inked down one leg. Down the other, a new tat will read ‘F%!@ you.’
“It’s just, for me, the attitude that I have to have to celebrate what I have, and I have a ‘me-against-the-world’ attitude, whether it is on the football field, that is my mantra,” Murphy said after the Argos practised on Wednesday at Holy Trinity Catholic in Oakville.
“I’m an individual, and that’s how I live my life.”
But not completely, and Murphy acknowledged the on-field bending of his own philosophy helped make him a top-notch player again this season. He’s the Argos nominee for most outstanding offensive lineman and has been recognized, in a TSN players poll, as the nastiest player in the Canadian Football League.
With the B.C. Lions in 2006 and 2007, Murphy was named the most outstanding lineman in the CFL. Yet after signing with the Argos in February of 2009, the 33-year-old struggled mightily last season, enduring some off-field issues and trying to play for a coaching staff that had no clue.
Murphy not only got his mojo back under head coach Jim Barker, but his dominance returned, with one major change.
“I wanted to erase last year and get back to how I played in B.C., with the exception of taking those 15-yard penalties (for unnecessary roughness),” Murphy, a father of two-year-old triplets, said. “I’m going to be honest with you, that took, at the beginning of the year, a little bit, just buying into what coach Barker was saying.
“It worked out in the end. I can still do my job and intimidate, without having to get those penalties to force my point.”
Prior to the season, Murphy’s teammates demonstrated their collective confidence in him when he was voted as captain of the linemen. With one game left, Murphy has yet to be flagged for a 15-yard penalty. Other than a couple of dopey tweets that got him in trouble with the league in July, Murphy has tip-toed on the straight and narrow.
Offensive line coach Steve McAdoo noted that despite being around the football block a few times, Murphy’s willingness to listen didn’t waver this year.
Barker, of course, noticed.
“A leader knows he is either in or out, and he chose to be in,” Barker said. “There were a couple of times when he wanted so bad to go in there (and raise hell), and he just didn’t. That’s the difference between being a champion and being the nastiest player on a bad team.”
Murphy’s professional career began in 1999, when he had stops with the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals after three years at Ohio State. But nothing compared to his first year as an Argo.
“It was probably the lowest point of my professional career, and this whole off-season, it’s just how I am wired, but I kept on re-living each game,” Murphy said. “I came into this year with the intensity I had in B.C.
“I motivate myself by fear. I don’t want to be an average player. I want to be the best I can be, and I use that fear to motivate me.”
A big fan of metal and the colour black, Murphy will be eligible for free agency in February once his contract expires. But if the Argos attempt to re-sign him, he’s not going to lift his pant leg and point at his new tattoo.
“I love the organization, where we are headed and just the positive attitude after the doldrums of last year,” Murphy said. “It has been definitely great.”
“We would love to have Murph back,” Barker said.
“He feels comfortable with this coaching staff.
“We expect, hopefully, to get him back.”