Riders’ quarterback Cody Fajardo can relate to CFL players financial struggles amid COVID-19 uncertainty

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Even though he’s in a good place, Riders’ quarterback Cody Fajardo knows what many of his fellow CFLers are going though financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It wasn’t too long ago that Fajardo would have been in the exact same situation.

“The hardest part is obviously financially for a lot of guys. I’m in a bit of a different situation now, thankfully, signing that contract at the end of the year. It’s tough, especially for a lot of the younger guys who don’t make a lot of money. Fajardo told TSN and CTV.

Fajardo went from nearly maxing out his incentives and earning around $150,000 in 2019 to inking a two-year extension worth $412,000 in hard money year one and $444,000 for year two. It included a $175,000 roster bonus on February 1.

“There’s a lot of guys, and I’ve lived it, for the previous four or five years, it’s going to be tough to make some decisions financially for people who have families,” Fajardo said.

“You’re not making a lot of money and especially with the Canadian dollar also going down, you have to make some life decisions for your family. Do you wait it out for football? Or do you make the tough decision to commit to a job or a career?

At this point, it’s unclear when the CFL season will start or if it begins at all. Just recently, the league announced that training camps won’t be starting on time, postponed indefinitely. Despite the expected delay, Fajardo is trying to approach the rest of his off-season like any other.

“Just because I want to be in that same off-season routine where when you hit May 15, you want to be in the best shape of your career,” Fajardo said.

“For me, nothing’s changed in my preparation.”

No matter when that season starts, Fajardo is not only ready for it physically, he wants to get going to put the end of last season behind him. Saskatchewan lost in the West Final to rival Winnipeg. Fajardo’s final throw intended for Kyran Moore hit the upright and the Bombers prevailed 20-13 on the way to winning the Grey Cup.

“I’m just eager and ready to go. We didn’t end the year the way we wanted to, so making it delayed a little bit more has that bitter taste in my mouth just a little bit longer,” said an optimistic Fajardo.

“I’m a very optimistic, glass half-full guy, so I know that there’s going to be a CFL season.”

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.