B.C. Lions quarterback Mike Reilly can deal with the heat in the pocket, and he’s working to prove the ability to fight fires outside of it.
Reilly has used the time away from football during the COVID-19 pandemic to prepare for his next potential career. The 36-year-old has been working to become a firefighter since the CFL season was cancelled in 2020.
“Through the CFLPA I got started with a program getting certified to be a firefighter. That’s something that I’m now well on my way to doing, I’ve finished a good majority of the course work,” Reilly said on the Brad and Avry Hour.
“We’re partnered with an academy called Training Division that was started by Brad Loewen out of Ontario who now lives in the States and he took his academy down to Texas. There’s a lot of guys in the league that have either completed that course, or are in the midst of doing that right now.”
Reilly is excited and has become extremely passionate about being a firefighter. He doesn’t want to have to utilize the skills for a while, but when the time comes to change careers after football, the veteran signal caller will be ready. The face of the Lions franchise believes if there is anything 2020 taught us, it’s that you can’t ever guarantee anything.
“I was always confident that I was going to have a long career and I never really worried too much about it. I got my degree in mechanical engineering, I knew that I had a good education that I could fall back on. But I never really took that question all that seriously because I knew that I was playing well and having success in the CFL, and had confidence that my career was far from over,” Reilly said.
“I still believe that, but as with a lot of the other guys that didn’t have a season last year, I had to start looking into that more seriously than I had in the past. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, or when it does it’s later rather than sooner. I think we’re all fairly confident that we’re going to be on the field playing in some type of capacity this year.”
Reilly started 16 games for the Lions in 2019, but his first year as the starter in B.C. was cut short due to a broken wrist. Prior to the injury, he was the last healthy starting quarterback league-wide in a pain-filled campaign for No. 1 pivots. He passed for 3,897 yards, 20 touchdowns versus 15 interceptions while completing just under 70 percent of his attempts as the Lions went 5-13 and missed the playoffs.
Reilly wants the chance for a turnaround season on the west coast, but if for any reason a season doesn’t happen, his next career is ready to be called on.