Veteran long snapper Chevrier looking to extend career

After 15 seasons of pro football, Randy Chevrier isn’t ready to call it a career just yet.

The 39-year-old longsnapper continues to work out and prepare for the upcoming CFL season despite not having a job. The Calgary Stampeders opted against offering the six-foot-two, 289-pound Montreal native a contract in February, ending his 11-year tenure with the club.

Although he’s worked as a substitute teacher and applied to the Calgary fire department, Chevrier wants to continue playing because he feels he can still do so at a high level.

“My logical brain says, ‘Yeah, I’ve had a good career,”’ Chevrier said in a telephone interview Friday. “I’ve won three Grey Cups and done the impossible for a kid who never watched football and only started (playing) at 18 years old.

“But football programs you not to look at the past. You forget the wins, you learn from the losses and go forward. When I think about it as a football player, my memory is very short. It’s like, ‘What’s next?’ From the day we lost in the playoffs to Edmonton until I got the call into (GM John Hufnagel’s) office, I was going to be back this year and do everything I could to help this team get over the hump.”

However, Chevrier can’t take the first offer that might come along. He’s married with three boys aged nine, seven and four and family would factor heavily in whatever football decision he made.

Despite getting a late start in the sport, Chevrier has achieved plenty.

He captured the Metras trophy at McGill as Canadian university football’s top lineman and played in the East-West Shrine game before being a 2001 first-round pick of the Edmonton Eskimos. But he started his pro career that year with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being taken in the seventh round of the NFL draft.

And it was with Jacksonville that Chevrier began thinking about life after football.

“The first meeting the first day I got to Jacksonville, the message was, ‘Welcome to the NFL. From this point forward we’re trying to replace you,’ ” Chevrier said. “I don’t remember too many speeches from my 15-year career but I’ll always remember the first one.”

The challenge facing Chevrier, though, is finding something outside of football that stirs his passion as much as the game does. He’s currently doing bully prevention work across Canada with Dare To Care as well as starting The Canadian Football Academy in Calgary with former CFL head coach Tom Higgins and Tony Fasano, a former University of Calgary head coach.

“Am I certain what I’m going to be doing (after football)? Not 100 per cent,” he said. “I’ve got ideas and put things into motion but I’m constantly in search of what I’m going to be able to develop that similar passion that I have for football.

“It’s hard to see what that will be. If I don’t end up playing this year I’m definitely going to have to immerse myself in whatever I’m doing to see if that’s what it is.”

A busy off-season revolving around family, teaching and making anti-bullying speeches at schools make it easier for Chevrier to keep his mind off football. But there are other times when thoughts about the game creep into his head.

“I tell people it’s like a box,” he said. “If I distract myself from the football box and don’t open it, I’m OK.

“But there are times when I open the football box _ I’m at the gym training and I’m Randy Chevrier the football player, the athlete, the competitor _ and it’s hard because I love to compete. When that football box is open, there’s a part of me that says, ‘You know what? There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be playing this year.’ ”

Yet football was very nearly taken away from Chevrier.

While working as a bouncer in June 2000, Chevrier was stabbed in the side of his chest, the blade narrowly missing his lung. Ironically, earlier that day Chevrier questioned whether the effort he was putting into football was worth it.

“They (doctors) said one inch more and I was dead,” Chevrier said. “I questioned myself that afternoon if I wanted to play football again . . . but it’s like that event galvanized my resolve that I was going to make it.

“The lessons I learned from that moment have applied to every single thing I’ve done and that’s why I’ve lasted as long as a pro athlete as I have. The worst thing that ever happened to me happened before I became a pro and I was able to bounce back. It was one of the most important events of my life, good and bad.”