How Cody Fajardo stays warm in cold CFL games: helmet heat, jacket buddy and Icy Hot

Saskatchewan Roughriders’ quarterback Cody Fajardo has learned how to combat the cold Canadian climate.

It took some trial and error for Fajardo to figure out what worked best to stay warm for an entire CFL game.

Last season in Week 20, Fajardo was in Edmonton for a crucial match-up as the Riders were trying to clinch first in the West Division. That game was on Saturday, October 26 and had a low of minus-seven degrees with 20 to 40 kilometre per hour winds at Commonwealth Stadium.

“I put Icy Hot on my legs before I put my tights on. I thought it would warm me up, and it definitely warmed me up, but once you hit the cold or the icy part of the hot, which I wasn’t really thinking about, I was completely frozen,” Fajardo said laughing on The Rouge Report podcast.

“And then it starts burning you because it’s so cold, it’s burning you because it’s under your tights. I had to change my tights at halftime because my legs felt like they were legitimately on fire or frost bitten. My worst trial and error decision.”

Fajardo’s right arm was on fire as Saskatchewan’s pivot completed 25-of-35 passes for 429 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-24 victory. With one minute and 43 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Fajardo led an eight-play drive from the Riders six-yard line to Edmonton’s 35 which set-up Brett Lauther’s game-winning three-pointer from 43 yards out.

“One of the coldest games I’ve ever been a part of was that game at Edmonton. Every series in a cold game you’ll see me go over to the heater, put my helmet in front of it for about three, four seconds and then put it on my head, and my body is entirely warm,” Fajardo said.

That’s one critical element to keeping Fajardo warm prior to taking the field for an offensive series. Veteran defensive lineman Shawn Lemon introduced Fajardo to the jacket buddy concept during the snow globe 2017 Grey Cup in Ottawa to stay warm on the sidelines.

“You gotta have a jacket buddy on defence and offence. The reason why is when you have the jacket on it’s great, and then you take the jacket off, you put it down and it just collects all the cold,” Fajardo said.

“But if you have another guys’ body warming that up while you’re out there playing, you got something to look forward to when you come to the sideline after a touchdown. Jacket buddy, offence and defence, you gotta get one.”

The Argos upset the heavily-favoured Stampeders 27-24 using the jacket buddy system and Fajardo gained a Grey Cup ring as the third-string quarterback. Stealing the idea and using it in Saskatchewan could lead to a CFL championship for Fajardo and the Riders.

“That’s how you win the Grey Cup,” Fajardo said. “You gotta be a team that can win in the cold.”

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