It’s been a few days since Brandonite Chris Bauman was released from the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders, and he’s still trying to get over the shock.
The 29-year-old Vincent Massey Vikings and University of Regina Rams graduate was working hard to prepare for his eighth season in the league at his home in Florida when he found out the news. It caught Bauman off guard, especially since the slotback felt he was in good standing with the team while working hard to rehabilitate his right knee after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in a practice in October.
"It was a huge surprise," he said. "I didn’t think they could actually do that to a veteran, but it was a huge eye-opener. I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet that I’m not reporting to training camp for the first time in whenever."
The 6-foot-4 receiver, who was selected first overall in the 2007 CFL draft by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, has had an injury-plagued career and last season was no different. After catching 16 passes for 212 yards and touchdown in the 2012 campaign for the Stampeders, Bauman broke his wrist in training camp and just as he was ready to return in October he tore his ACL.
He moved to Florida with his wife in the off-season to rehabilitate his knee and is working with a physiotherapist three times a day.
Most of his range of motion is back, he’s able to jump and run straight ahead and will start working on lateral movements in June. He felt his recovery was on pace to return to the field by Labour Day.
Now that he has been released, Bauman is making sure that he doesn’t rush the recovery process for his knee.
"Right now, my main goal is just to get my knee ready, either for maybe another chance or just for the rest of my life," he said. "I don’t want any lingering effects. Probably just three months out from when I was planning on being 100 per cent, so that’s my main goal now."
Although Bauman admits that it seems strange to not be committed to go a training camp next month, he plans to be patient to determine his future on the field. He knows injuries are a part of football and wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a phone call from a team midway through the season.
If that doesn’t happen, then he’ll continue the after-football life that he’s already started. He finished his real estate courses in the winter, got his licence and is selling residential properties in Florida.
Bauman, who has 141 reception for 1,855 yards and seven touchdowns in his career that included stops in Hamilton, Edmonton and Calgary, has also started doing CrossFit and is considering taking part in competitions after his football career as well.
For now, he’s just trying to get over the shock of being released, get his knee back in good shape and see if something comes up to bring him back to Canada for the upcoming CFL season.
"If the right situation comes up in August or September then I’ll talk to my wife about it and we’ll decide from there, but other than that I’ll be doing real estate down here," he said. "I want to make sure my knee is 100 per cent. I don’t want to do it again and I don’t want to rush it. Especially now there’s no point in rushing it, so I’ll take my time.
"There’s always injuries in the football season, especially come September and October. I’ll just wait and if the right situation comes up I’ll take it and if not we’ll make a decision from there."