Giancola's feel-good story going nowhere

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:43 PM ET

This was supposed to be the whipped cream on top of his career cake. A happy end chapter to his autobiography.

Right now, that cream is starting to look a little curdled.

And if the writing's not on the wall just yet, the pencils are being sharpened.

Kicker Dan Giancola, the potential feel-good story of Blue Bomber training camp, remains on the sidelines, unable to put his 39-year-old leg on display because of a pulled groin.

The man may be used to waiting -- it took 10 years and 131 tryouts before he got his first pro football opportunity, and five years for him to get this one -- but this delay is almost killing him.

"I can't even put it into words," Giancola said yesterday. "Finally, five years in waiting, I finally get an opportunity. Frustrating. I can't put it any better than that."

A man with his share of challenges the last several years, Giancola tweaked his groin a couple weeks before camp.

Calling the Bombers right away -- "I wasn't about to come here and all of a sudden just say, 'Surprise!' " -- Giancola feared the worst: a quick handshake and "thanks for the memories."

But the Bombers have been patient. So far.

So Giancola reports for treatment at 5 a.m., tries to stay in shape and takes in all the meetings and practices.

"Does it suck? Yeah, absolutely," Giancola said. "I feel bad. Because everybody's out there doing their thing, and I'm sittin' here. Five years of waiting. Five years of waiting! And all I can do is stand on the sidelines and watch Alexis kick and watch Bradley kick."

Tomorrow, he'll get his chance to tee the ball up, along with Alexis Serna and Bradley Pierson, the only other kickers in camp.

If he pulls this off, it'll almost match the first chapter of his career, the one called Grocery Clerk Turns Pro, written in 1999.

"It took me 10 years to get my first opportunity in '99," Giancola said. "Because I didn't play college or university football, blah, blah, blah."

He last kicked in anger for Toronto in 2004, in the middle of the most challenging period in his life.

His father-in-law and his wife were battling colon cancer, two of several family health crises he's faced.

Five years later, he's getting a second chance.

A personal trainer in the Toronto area, Giancola gave up that career to give the game one more shot.

"I always said I would play this game for nothing," Giancola said. "And really, truly, this year I proved it to myself. To come out here and give up what I gave up at home... it really solidified why I'm here. And it truly is because of football."

He's here because of a new head coach who said yes when so many others said no.

Now, Mike Kelly is wondering how long he can wait.

"I feel for him a little bit, because I know how much this opportunity means to him," Kelly said.

"Like I said with other positions, every day you're not doing something, you're getting behind. It's something you can't rush, but at the same time we've got a football team to put together.

"The plan is to have him kick on Sunday, and we'll see how it looks."

Just like that, five years could come down to one day.

At this stage, it's all Giancola could ask for.

The wait will be worth it, one way -- or the other.

"When I'm all said and done," Giancola said. "I'll look back and say one of two things: either, I was really stupid, or I really, truly do love this game.

"And I know it's that one."


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