Ryan Dinwiddie doesn’t want former NFL players used to just playing for pay cheques with Argos

Photo courtesy: Toronto Argonauts

The Toronto Argonauts have added a lot of flashy former NFL names so far this off-season, but it doesn’t mean much to head coach Ryan Dinwiddie.

The Argos bench boss wants to see the CFL newcomers prove themselves in Canada based on merit as opposed to their star power.

“They’re going to come in and get their eyes widened a little bit, as far as the talent in the CFL compared to the NFL. It’s not going to be easy for those guys to make our roster, by any means,” Dinwiddie said on The Waggle podcast.

“Some of these NFL guys, I’m always a little bit wary of the fact that you get some of these big names, they come in and a lot of times these guys don’t make the roster. These guys gotta come and compete and take someone’s job.”

There are a handful of former NFLers who stick out most. On offence, former Buffalo Bills’ running back Karlos Williams, former Pittsburgh Steelers’ receiver Martavis Bryant, and 2012 first-round NFL Draft pick, receiver Kendall Wright,

Over on defence, 2014 second-round NFL Draft pick, defensive lineman Kony Ealy, 2015 first-round NFL Draft pick, defensive lineman Shane Ray, and 2015 third-round NFL Draft pick, defensive lineman Eli Harold.

“Some of these NFL dudes we’ll see. I’m excited. The potential is there, the guys are saying all the right things — they’re ready to go to work, and they’re excited about the opportunity to come up to Canada and play football again,” Dinwiddie said.

“Our league gives some of these guys a chance to continue to make a living and play football, and do what you love. The love of the game is the most important thing in Canada and for the NFL some of those guys are doing it for pay cheques, not because they love it.”

Dinwiddie is looking for players with passion as the Boatmen try to turn the ship around in Toronto. Over the last two seasons, the Argos have an 8-28 record, worst in the CFL. That’s why the old regime was fired and a new one brought in to point the Argonauts in the right direction.

“From being where we were two years ago, no one even wanted to play here to guys calling us and begging to get on our roster, that speaks volumes as far as making it an exciting place to play,” Dinwiddie said.

“I always use the term: ‘I’m going to put you on the Delta flight and you won’t be riding anywhere but the middle seat.’ So guys know the expectations in the building.”

If those high level expectations turn into exciting football and winning results, Dinwiddie believes it will bring fans out to BMO Field in droves. He can remember coming into the CFL in 2006 with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and having to use silent counts at the Rogers Centre due to the crowd noise.

“They were an exciting football team. It was the place where everybody wanted to go play coming from the States, then that slowly went away, and we can bring that back,” Dinwiddie said.

“It could be a destination for some of our US players that might not know some of the cities around Canada, but they sure as heck know Toronto. That’s enticing to bring some of these U.S. guys in that don’t know much about the country, but they want to come to Toronto.”