Finally, The Rock has decided to talk about his time in the CFL — sort of.
Tuesday night’s season two premiere of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s NBC sitcom Young Rock spent a chunk of time, basically the final third of the episode, showing the titular character’s beginnings in the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders.
There were some factual inaccuracies, like claiming the Stamps were the three-time defending champions when Johnson arrived with the team in the summer of 1995, but otherwise the show did a fair job of showing what life would be like for a rookie American.
Johnson has never been shy to talk about his difficulties in adapting to the CFL and that is on full display during this part of the episode. He lines up offside not knowing as a defensive tackle he must line up one-yard off the ball and is on the field when he shouldn’t be, not knowing that the field is bigger, and complains to the coaches that the offence has 12 men.
There was also era-appropriate gear, with the old CFL helmet logo being featured on the Stampeders attire that players and coaches were wearing. It even looked like the production staff found or recreated a hat that was almost exactly like the one you would have seen Wally Buono wearing.
Young Rock isn’t the first show to go the extra mile when it comes to recreating what the CFL looked like in the past. The excellent Hulu show Pam and Tommy, about the sex tape scandal surrounding Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee from the mid-1990s, did the same with recreated footage of a B.C.-Edmonton game where Anderson got her big break. Both shows deserve kudos for doing the work in making the scenes look and feel authentic.
The show also cast actors to play three Stampeders that almost everyone reading this will be familiar with: Doug Flutie, Jeff Garcia and Buono. The Flutie reveal was a legitimate laugh-out-loud moment for yours truly. The episode also showed some real Stampeders highlights, with Flutie and Allen Pitts being the most notable players shown.
This part shows Johnson’s braggadocio when, according to the show, he told reporters on the first day of camp that the Stampeders would go 18-0. I was unable to verify if the future most electrifying man in all of entertainment actually made this statement that the show says was printed in the June 10, 1995 edition of the Calgary Sun.
The same episode highlights the unglamorous life of a rookie American in the CFL. Johnson is forced to share a small apartment with teammates and find a used mattress on the street.
It ends with Johnson being told by Buono that he will make 350 loonies while on the practice squad versus the $55,000 he would have made had he made the team. Johnson tells his then-girlfriend Dany Garcia that he plans to stick things out, get off the practice squad and onto the active roster while using it as a springboard to the NFL.
With more ground to cover in The Rock’s CFL career, we can expect to see more of Johnson’s time in the CFL on future episodes.
If your concern was that the CFL wouldn’t be treated with reverence or like a joke, fear not. While jokes are made, it is a sitcom after all, the show and Johnson give the league the respect it deserves. If anything, it is The Rock, not the CFL, that is made to look silly.
Honestly, the Flutie thing is incredibly funny. If you don’t laugh, I will be surprised.