So here’s what the last nine months of Tiger-Cats offensive lineman Landon Rice’s life has looked like.
In April, he and his long-time girlfriend Jaime were married in Niagara Falls. The wedding photos feature shots of the smiling couple posing on playing field at Tim Hortons – it looks like his new bride has a pretty decent arm – as well as at Rice’s stall in the Ticat locker room.
In December, the Rice’s welcomed their second child, daughter Aela, who, despite arriving a few weeks early, weighed in at an impressive eight pounds 10 ounces. Genetics likely played a role: her Daddy is listed a 6-foot-6, 314 pounds. Mom and baby are doing well.
Then this week, Rice signed a two-year contract extension with the Ticats, electing to forego free agency – he was set to hit the open market in February – in exchange for the familiarity and security of the only CFL team he’s ever played for.
If that weren’t enough, Rice also played in 11 Ticat games last season, including the East Semi-Final. And son Leland, now 18 months, also attended his first CFL game, dressed in an undeniable cute Black and Gold jersey with his father’s name and number (it’s somewhat smaller than the game-worn version.)
“Those are big deals,” Rice said this week after his new deal was announced. “It’s been a fast year, for sure, but it was all just the next logical step.”
It makes sense for the Ticats, too. While he’s made just four starts in his four year career with Hamilton, Rice can line up multiple positions along the offensive line – he’s played guard and both tackle spots, sometimes in the same game –while also contributing on the occasional special team.
With veterans Mike Filer, Ryan Bomben and Peter Dyakowski as well as promising youngsters Brandon Revenberg and Mathiru Girard all under contract for next season, Hamilton has a strong nucleus of Canadian talent up front which gives them ratio flexibility. If they decide to start four national linemen – with Bomben or Revenberg likely at right tackle – a player like Rice becomes even more valuable.
“I’m the type of guy who just goes to work every day, works my butt off and does whatever they ask me to do,” Rice said. “I’ll take whatever role they give me and embrace it.”
Born and raised in Brandon, Manitoba, Rice played his university football at the University of Manitoba, where he met Jaime: she’s from Swan River in the northern part of the province where the 3,907 residents experienced a high temperature of minus-28 degrees on Thursday. But despite their Manitoba roots, they made Hamilton their year-round home two winters ago.
That sense of place – not to mention a CFL free agent class that will is set to be the largest ever – made re-signing with the Ticats more appealing for the Rices.
“We’ve made Hamilton home and that’s we were both so happy that it worked out that we could stay here,” he said.
Notes: the Ticats have re-signed defensive lineman Delano Johnson and Canadian linebackers Mitch Barnett and Geoff Hughes.