Teyo of two sports

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:18 PM ET

As a gifted basketball player, Teyo Johnson can certainly appreciate a rebound.

For almost a year, the huge athlete was down and out, without a job after five years with five different NFL teams.

Then, the Calgary Stampeders came calling -- again -- and this time, the receiver/tight end decided to come back to Canada permanently for the first time since he was a kid.

He joined the Stamps offence early this season, and they let him play quickly to help the import ratio.

Game action was rare for the 27-year-old in the past few years.

"Thank God for my Canadian citizenship," said Johnson, who was born in White Rock, B.C., but later moved to Seattle with his family.

"I wake up every morning with a smile. I love life. It's a blessing to be able to play this game, no matter what your record is.

"It took some humbling for me to realize that. I had never experienced the type of adversity, and that put things in perspective."

Johnson played both basketball and football in college at Stanford before focusing on pigskin exclusively.

Last week, he had the play of the game in grabbing a Hail Mary pass for a touchdown in a 41-30 win over the Montreal Alouettes.

The basketball skills were on display by the 6-foot-5, 260-pounder as he boxed out four Alouettes defenders.

Stamps QB Henry Burris is excited to have such a big target, especially one with soft hands.

"He's just an athletic offensive lineman who can run great routes," Burris said. "To me, he's a matchup nightmare for a defence. Do you put a linebacker on him? Then he's going to have more speed and agility. That's why we try to put him in different positions to utilize his skill."

For Johnson's final year of high school, he moved to San Diego, where he fit in well with the surfer crowd.

With the Stamps, the team has accepted his laid-back attitude because he shows up and works hard during practice.

"He's a cool, hey man, how's it going type, but when you step on the field, he says, 'Give me the ball, I'm going to run this guy over,' " Burris said.

"It's good to have some different personalities. If we had another Nik Lewis, then this would be a crazy place to work."

Being a fellow West Coaster, running back Jon Cornish enjoys having Johnson around. They are atypical football players, and most of their conversations can be deep and philosophical.

"He's a particular individual on this team. He's certainly unique and he is a personality we were probably lacking," Cornish said. "Teyo brings something I bring, too, that laid-back, west coast, chill attitude.

"It's somebody I can identify with. He says he's from Seattle but he's really a West Coaster. Seattle and Vancouver are pretty similar."

If Johnson had stayed playing basketball, he's convinced he would have a chance to going pro in that as well. While with the Cardinal, Johnson lined up with NBAers Josh Childress, Casey Jacobsen and twins Jason and Jarron Collins as a starting five.

So when he couldn't get a pro football job, it was tough on his confidence.

"When you get cut, going from starting in the NFL to not being able to get a job, flying around to run 40s for people and being bottom of the barrel ... I'm just happy to be out here playing again," Johnson said.

"When it's all said and done, I hope to remain the same person. If any change has gone on with me, it is just that I have grown up a bit."


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