New Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback James Franklin is ready for a fresh start on the prairies.
The former Eskimos quarterback joined the Argonauts two seasons ago. In Edmonton, he was viewed by many as one of the next great quarterbacks in the CFL. Needless to say, it didn’t really turn out that way in Toronto.
“I was the most miserable I’ve ever been playing football the last two years,” Franklin said on 620 CKRM in Regina.
Usually when a player joins a new team, especially one with a profile like Franklin had at the time, there’s an air of excitement. The team is excited, the player is excited and the fans are excited. For Franklin, things got off on the wrong foot in Toronto pretty much right away.
“Something that was really tough for me was I knew 100 percent that I was coming in as a backup behind Ricky (Ray). And I’ve never made any accusations as far as like ‘I’m about to come over and take it, I’m the number one, stay out of my way’,” Franklin said.
“I never said anything like that. And so I signed and it was just a few days after, (Marc Trestman) came out and said that saying ‘James Franklin can compete with Ricky Ray is disrespectful to Ricky.’ And I was like ‘oh, ouch (laughs). Right through the heart.’”
It spiralled from there for Franklin, who admits he got into his own head and that made things worse.
“I was a little too concerned with trying to change or adapt or do things that I thought coaches wanted. For a while I was pretty bitter and I was kind of playing the blame game in my head. Like ‘oh, they did this and they did that,'” Franklin said.
“I started doubting myself as in ‘okay, well they’re giving me all these suggestions, they’re telling me to do all these things so that must mean that I don’t know what I’m doing.’ Or that must mean that I’m not capable of doing these things. So it got to be me not being myself.”
Despite everything that happened, Franklin continued to do his best to be a good teammate, even if he wasn’t happy with the way things were going. It was almost enough to make Franklin wonder about his future in the sport.
“It was difficult because I was being myself, I wasn’t being disruptive, I was working hard and it was almost like it wasn’t enough,” Franklin said.
“There was one thing after another that really had me start doubting myself to where it was like ‘man, should I really even be playing football?’ Making me feel like I couldn’t even be playing in a Pee Wee league right now.”
In the end, Franklin hopes to see the whole ordeal as a learning experience as he re-unites with a coaching staff that already knows him in head coach Craig Dickenson and offensive coordinator Jason Maas.
“Going through that made me understand that you want to be somewhere you can be yourself and you’ll be accepted for that,” Franklin said.
“Whenever I enjoy the relationship with my coach, I play a lot better.”
Franklin completely understands what role he’ll play in Saskatchewan. Cody Fajardo is the starting quarterback and Franklin is there for depth and support.
“100 per cent the backup. There’s no question that (Cody Fajardo) is the number one. So coming in I just want to help out as much as I can and be ready for an opportunity,” Franklin said.
“I hope the only opportunities that I get to play this year are when we’re up by 50 or 60.”