Free agent CFL cover man Jonathan Rose cleared following spinal fusion surgery

Photo Scott Grant /
Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

Veteran Canadian Football League defensive back Jonathan Rose has been cleared for contact after undergoing spinal fusion surgery in January.

Rose played just three games for Ottawa in 2019, his season was cut short following the Redblacks Week 4 loss to Winnipeg. The two-time East Division all-star was worried about the setback.

“The whole process was nerve-racking. I’ve had nicks and bumps I’ve had to overcome, but I had never had an injury that significant where I needed surgery. The doctors said even with the surgery, they wouldn’t know until they saw how my body took to it,” Rose told Postmedia reporter Tim Baines.

“Hearing that it could possibly be over, that’s not something you want to hear when you’re just reaching your prime. As I was going through it, I was thinking even if I got healed, I probably wouldn’t get cleared. Everything went good, I feel great and the doctor says it’s safe to play.”

The 26-year-old Rose made nine tackles, one interception and recovered one fumble which he returned for a touchdown last season. He was playing with a lot of discomfort, including tingling in his upper left side and unstable vision. After Rose came to the realization it wasn’t safe to play, the six-foot-one, 190-pound cover man removed himself from the field.

“Once I get contact, that’s when I’ll be able to judge, but I feel like I can take contact like I always have. It’s definitely like night and day. It feels like I haven’t been through any surgery, it feels like I was never injured. I’m good, man. I’m only five months removed from the surgery and I feel great,” Rose said.

“Everything feels as normal as it did before I stopped playing. The only thing I haven’t had is contact, that will come. I don’t see any limitations from the surgery. I’m back whenever ball gets back. I still have so much to prove. I’m glad I got healed up so I can continue to build my legacy.”

Dr. Wai performed the procedure at The Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus in the nation’s capital. That’s where Rose has spent the off-season rehabbing and working towards being full healthy once again. The CFL season has been delayed until at least September, but it’s uncertain whether the league will actually play games in 2020 at all.

“It’s kind of frustrating that there’s no football right now, but I’m taking it as a blessing in disguise. I didn’t want to rush back. With COVID, I’ve been able to take my time and heal,” Rose said.

“I’m hoping football starts soon, but I appreciate the little delay, I want to make sure I’m able to go out and perform again. I feel like I’m going to get back in and pick up where I left off. I’ll make the necessary adjustments. I’m ready for the challenge.”

Regardless of what happens, when three-down football does hit the field again, Rose plans to be playing. For that to happen, the current free agent, will have to sign a contract with a CFL team. He’s played all four of his seasons to date with Ottawa.

“I would love to come back to Ottawa, but if it’s not in their wishes, we’ll part ways and I appreciate everything they’ve done for me. I’ve made this my second home, but I know how the game goes — a lot of guys go from jersey to jersey,” Rose said.

“It might just be my time to make a transition. I’m not saying I don’t love Ottawa — I love the area, I love the city, I love the Redblacks. It would be a lot to give up, but if they don’t want to sign me, that’s a statement. Then I’ll have to go prove myself somewhere else.”

The Leeds, Alabama native has played 53 career CFL games, recording 162 tackles, nine interceptions, six forced fumbles, four special teams tackles, scored two defensive touchdowns and notched one sack. Rose was a key piece of Ottawa’s 2016 Grey Cup championship team.

“Somebody’s going to get a diamond in the rough because I’m still the same top-tier cornerback I’ve been since I stepped into the league. I’m hoping a team is willing to take me as a guy who was at the top of his position in this league,” Rose said.

“I had an injury, but it was nothing to do with my arm or my leg. It was nothing I use when I perform, it was neck related. If I could have finished last season, I would have been an all-star again. Just because of my surgery, my play doesn’t go down.”

Rose has experience and proven production at the critical boundary side defensive back spot.