Jonathan Hefney didn’t know how much his signing bonus was.
In fact, he didn’t even know if he got a signing bonus from the Detroit Lions.
The only thing the defensive back was looking for was an opportunity, and that’s exactly what he got Monday when he signed a deal with the NFL franchise.
The window for CFL players entering their option year to sign in the NFL opened Monday, and Hefney wasted little time in exercising his right.
“I just want that chance,” Hefney said Monday at Detroit Metro Airport while waiting for his flight home.
Hefney would still be Winnipeg Blue Bomber property if he doesn’t make the Lions this summer.
“If things don’t work out,” Hefney said, “I’ll be back there killin'.”
The Bombers, who would welcome Hefney back, discovered him at a free-agent mini-camp in Florida.
He ended up being the East Division’s rookie of the year after recording four interceptions, 10 pass knockdowns and 66 tackles during the 2009 campaign.
He also played a significant role on special teams, making five tackles and helping fellow defensive back Jovon Johnson return two kicks for touchdowns.
The 24-year-old from Rock Hill, S.C., was one of three Bombers named CFL all-stars, with Doug Brown and Johnson being the others. The 5-foot-9 Hefney didn’t play an easy position, either, suiting up at the weak-side halfback spot.
“People might say corner is tougher. Well, corner in this league is not tougher,” Bombers interim vice-president of football operations Ross Hodgkinson said yesterday. “Halfback, by all accounts, (is tougher).
“Guys running at you full speed on a big field, you’ve gotta be a pretty outstanding athlete. He demonstrated that.”
Hefney, who played his college ball at the University of Tennessee, has had tryouts with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles, but he was unable to latch on with either one.
Hefney said his Motown connection was Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz himself. Schwartz was a Tennessee Titans assistant coach when Hefney played for the Vols.
“He couldn’t figure out why a lot of teams were passing me up, and once he saw me on the all-CFL team, he was like he couldn’t take it anymore and gave me a chance,” Hefney said.