Vincent Massey Vikings graduates Chris Bauman (above) and Izzy Idonije are both free agents patiently waiting for new contract offers. (FILE PHOTO)
While Landon Rice has answered the call, fellow Brandonites Chris Bauman and Israel Idonije are still waiting for the phone to ring.
The latest Brandonite to make his mark in professional football, the 6-foot-6, 315-pound Rice has moved into the starting lineup on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats offensive line in his second season in the CFL.
The 26-year-old Crocus Plains graduate has followed in the footsteps of Bauman and Idonije, a pair of former Vincent Massey stars who have gone on to lengthy careers, but currently find themselves on the sidelines awaiting offers.
Idonije was surprisingly released by the Chicago Bears in June after they had a change of heart just two months after he re-signed with the NFL club that he spent nine of his 10 seasons with.
"I don’t know what their decision was based on, but it just didn’t work out in Chicago and that was that," Idonije said this week from Chicago.
Idonije is now 33, but retirement isn’t a part of his vocabulary. So how many years does he feel he has left?
"I have plenty," said Idonije, a 6-foot-6, 275-pound defensive lineman who has 283 tackles and 29 sacks in 149 career NFL games. "I am running around and I feel great and my performance and everything is on point. I am just waiting for the right opportunity and right situation and when that happens we will go out there and have a good year."
While NFL training camps are set to kick off next week, Idonije remains confident he will get another opportunity.
"Yeah, we have talked to a few teams and it’s just business as usual," he said.
Further south in Florida, Bauman is also playing the waiting game as he continues to recover from reconstructive knee surgery and hoping to get another shot with a CFL club. Bauman, who lives in Hollywood, Fla., with his wife, is getting closer to full health, but still has a ways to go.
"It’s going good," said Bauman, who was released by the Calgary Stampeders in the off-season after a 2013 campaign that was a complete writeoff due to a broken wrist and torn ACL in his right knee. "I feel about 90 per cent right now, but they say the last 10 per cent is the hardest to get. But I started running routes and doing all that stuff, so it feels good ... I’m hoping (to be ready to play) in August or the latest September, but with a knee injury you never really know."
The 6-foot-4, 212-pound receiver, who has spent seven seasons in the CFL since being drafted first overall by the Tiger-Cats in 2007, said he isn’t in any hurry to sign until his knee is 100 per cent.
"I kind of want to wait until I’m closer to being cleared (to play)," said Bauman, who has made 141 catches for 1,855 yards and seven touchdowns in his CFL career. "Things change so fast in the CFL with injuries and stuff that there is no point right now. But I have been talking to my agent and he feels pretty strongly that once I’m healthy, he will find a place."
While he still loves the game, the 29-year-old Bauman admits he is toying with hanging up the cleats to work in real estate or join a police force in Florida. Whatever his future holds, it won’t be an easy decision.
"I have the desire to play, it’s whether I want to leave or stay here and get on with my life and not really risk another injury to my knee or to another body part," said Bauman, who was back in Brandon last week to take part in a charity golf tournament. "So there’s a lot of options to weigh, but I definitely have the desire to play ... I have a few things going and if the police does happen and they want to put me in the police academy, then it will be a tough decision and I will have to sit down with my wife and figure that out."
Former Brandon Wheat Kings greats Brian Propp and the late Brad McCrimmon will be inducted into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame this weekend in Prince Albert, Sask.
Propp, the Wheat Kings’ all-time scoring leader, and McCrimmon, the best defenceman in club history, helped lead the Wheat Kings to the 1979 WHL title and a trip to the Memorial Cup final before embarking on NHL careers.
Propp, a native of Lanigan, Sask., started his junior career by shattering the SJHL scoring record while playing for the Melville Millionaires before joining the WHL’s Wheat Kings for three seasons.
McCrimmon, a native of Plenty, Sask., who died in the tragic Yaroslavl Lokomotiv plane crash in Russia in 2011, got his start with the Centennial Cup champion Prince Albert Raiders in 1976 before playing three seasons in Brandon.
Wheat Kings coach/owner Kelly McCrimmon will attend the Hall of Fame weekend to honour the inductees, which also include his father Byron’s old Rosetown Red Wings team.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 18, 2014