Saskatchewan Roughriders’ offensive lineman Dan Clark has taken to the farm life on the prairies.
Fellow big man Ben Heenan approached Clark about becoming a helping hand on his farm in Grand Coulee, which is approximately 30 minutes away from Mosaic Stadium, after the 2020 CFL season was cancelled in August.
“I’m currently loving being out here. Every day it’s a different adventure, some days it’s harder than others,” Clark said on 620 CKRM radio in Regina.
Clark and Heenan played three seasons together with the Riders, winning a Grey Cup on home soil in 2013. Heenan, the first overall pick in the 2012 CFL draft, retired from professional football after spending one season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2015 at 26 years old to work on his family farm.
“He views farming as the same thing as football, he attacks it the same way. I wouldn’t even say that he fell out of love with football, when you have two loves it’s a battle of both in your mind and the love of farming took over,” Clark said.
“Every day seeing the smile on his face, seeing him not stress over getting ready for a game, although it makes my life harder being on the Riders that he’s not around, but as long as he’s happy that’s all that matters to me.”
Heenan is teaching the ins and outs to Clark as the 2019 CFL all-star learns about the nuances of farming. The first day on the farm, Heenan and Clark drove around in his truck while giving the new farmhand the lay of the land.
“Thought it was the easiest thing ever and then I proceeded to shovel a trailer full of lentils. That pretty much started at 9 a.m. and finished at 7 p.m. The worst part about it is Ben never told me when lunch was,” Clark said.
“I called him at three o’clock and I’m like, ‘Hey man, I hate to bother you, I know you’re in the combine, but can I have lunch please?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, you can have lunch whenever you want.”
It’s a cash crop farm the Heenan family runs. Clark has been working on trucks, driving tractors and doing old fashioned manual labour when required. He was training and in shape to potentially play this year, which has helped for his latest occupation, but Clark wants to be back on the football field in 2021.
“It’s one of those things that drives me every morning to get up and see how the hardworking farm life is established in our province and what runs through people’s blood,” Clark said.
“It’s about playing for the pride of the province that has taught me so much.”