Patience not only proved to be virtuous for the young defensive back last year, it may have even saved his life.
Despite opening the CFL season with a pair of decent outings for the Blue Bombers, Cedric Dickerson was unceremoniously shunted to the practice roster and remained there until the end of the year when he was rewarded with his third appearance.
Dickerson, 24, still returned to Winnipeg's training camp this year and on the weekend he was declared a starter in the Bomber secondary.
"It feels good just to be accepted by the team this year, after bouncing back and forth from the active roster and the practice roster," he said yesterday. "It was frustrating at times because I felt like I could help the team."
SCRATCHING HIS HEAD
He is still scratching his head over why he was benched after his second game. After the first, then-head coach Dave Ritchie singled him out for his stellar play against Ottawa.
"Then, the next week, we went to Hamilton and I thought I played pretty well there, too," said the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Valdosta State product. "But, at that point in time, coach Ritchie was under a lot of pressure and I was just a rookie back there. So, I guess changes needed to be made and that's just the nature of the business.
"So, I'll just us that as motivation and continue to work hard and get better to try to help the team out this year. I'm just thankful that God blessed me and gave me the opportunity to play with these guys."
Blessed in more ways than one. While Dickerson was pursuing his pro football career, two of his friends and a cousin were murdered back at his Savannah, Ga., home while another friend got a life sentence for murder, all in separate incidents. One was shot in the head, another was the result of an altercation while his cousin was killed coming out of a club. His other friend happened upon some drug dealers trying to sell crack to his brother, Dickerson said.
"It was just a revolving door with things going wrong at that time, man," he said. "But God kept me around and the Bombers kept me around. I'm thankful for that because that kept me out of trouble.
"It's a messed-up reality. That's just why I'm glad I've got football. A lot of the guys I grew up with never had the opportunity to leave and go see other things. They've been there for the whole time so I feel for those guys. A lot of those guys, I go home and I still hang out with. But they respect me for what I do now."
So does Bomber head coach Jim Daley.
"He's a guy we were impressed with as an athlete, as a player and as a person," Daley said. "He's a guy we see taking great strides this year to become a real good CFL player.
"He is as straight a shooter and as honest a man as you'll come across. He brings a professionalism, a confidence and a determination in that, even when he went on the practice roster for an extended period of time, he never stopped working. He never stopped smiling. He never stopped growing. Not everybody handles adversity as well as that. Guys who do usually handle the next step, and the next step, equally well."