Taylor-made moving experience for Lions

Courtney Taylor had a peek at life outside football and the daily struggles associated with making a living. Reality, he said, could wait.

It takes a special mindset to catch passes, and for the 32-year old Taylor it was reconfirmed when he spent the last several months in the real world, only to re-enter the CFL when the B.C. Lions brought him back on a practice roster agreement this week.

With 227 yards from 22 catches in just seven games finishing his contract last season, Taylor (above) thought he was finished with football, just like another veteran Lions receiver, Austin Collie. Taylor had some free agent nibbles, but began pursuit of a teaching career at home in Seattle.

He spent a couple of months working at the moving company of a friend and was about to enter a management training course at a rental car firm. But he admitted that because he was bringing a football mentality to his new line of work, he hadn’t coaxed all the football in his body out of him as yet.

“Football teaches you so much about life,” Taylor said after his first practice this week. “I was trying to apply that same hunger to different things. I wanted to be the best I could be in the moving industry. All I could think about was football.

“It has opened my eyes. I had one of the most blue-collar jobs you can have and I have total admiration for those guys. But I can’t lie; when I first got (back) here, it felt like I was in a dream world. I’m not saying football wasn’t on my mind but I just wasn’t thinking it would be back in B.C.”

Yet to continue thinking about football daily, Taylor not only had to ditch his real-world pursuits but do so without even so much as a commitment to a roster spot by the Lions.

Unsure of his physical state, GM/coach Wally Buono asked Taylor to return but not before he took part in a private workout at the team’s training facility Monday. Without any guarantees, Taylor agreed to back and work for the same boss who last year didn’t want him anymore.

If there’s a better sign that the Lions are beginning to think they have something special this season and want some experience on their roster rather than keeping one of the dozen import receivers they cut at training camp, it has yet to surface.

Without hesitation, or for that matter another mentor like injured regular Nick Moore, Taylor was willing to play behind the two receivers who had bypassed him on the depth chart, Bryan Burnham and Geraldo Boldewijn, for less money than he could have made hauling around large boxes and bed frames.

You do it, he said, because there’s still some football left in him yet, even though he is not nearly in football shape and therefore won’t likely be in the lineup when the Lions finally return home to play the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Saturday.

No training camp. No problem.

“In my head I know I can still play,” said Taylor, echoing the thoughts of countless others who said the same thing when a team essentially told them it was over.

And what he will give Burnham and Boldewijn is a little of what he learned about himself from his last job.

“I couldn’t believe how competitive I was at that job,” he said. “I got a good taste of the real world; a really good taste. It’s real. It’s not football, but it can wait.”


Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.