‘Not just showing up to get a T-shirt’: Canadian QB Nathan Rourke wants ‘a true opportunity at the NFL’

Photo courtesy: Jeff Vinnick/BC Lions

Canadian Nathan Rourke believes he’s ready to take a real shot at playing quarterback in the NFL.

Rourke will be smart with his foot and not push it coming off returning from Lisfranc surgery in late August. He’ll communicate to teams where he’s at physically and go from there.

“I never had a true opportunity at the NFL level, not as a quarterback. That’s been something that I’ve been wanting to at least try for a very long time,” Rourke said.

“It’s fortunate enough to have an opportunity and try to see where that goes, understanding that I have a heckuva opportunity with the Lions. So to me, it’s a win-win, really. If I get an opportunity down there, then great, but it’s a great thing that I have here and I don’t mind coming back at all — I would be very excited to in fact.”

The 24-year-old is coming off a breakout season in the CFL during which he completed 78.7 percent of his passes for 3,349 yards with 25 touchdowns against 10 interceptions in parts of 10 games while going 8-1 as a starter. He also ran the ball 39 times for 304 yards and seven scores. The six-foot-two, 209-pound QB completed 62 percent of his passes for 621 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in two playoff starts.

“I told my agent that I didn’t want to hear about any NFL things during the season. I wanted to be able to focus and give everything I had to the Lions,” Rourke said.

“There’s a little bit of betting on yourself and trying to put yourself in a position to compete. I know that I owe it to myself to try to go and find out.”

Over two-thirds of NFL teams have shown interest in the Victoria, B.C. native. He has two workouts scheduled for November 21 and 22 respectively with more likely to come.

“Not just showing up to get a T-shirt, going in there and trying to make an impact and being able to go to a situation that makes sense,” Rourke said.

“I think playing is important, being able to make an impact and trying to win is important. I don’t really know what exactly it looks like in terms of the specifics, but we’ll know when we come across it.”

Rourke remains under contract with the Lions through next season, although all CFL players are permitted to depart for the NFL via the window that was established in 2019. He was emotional following the West Final and told reporters he hasn’t ruled out a return to B.C. for 2023.

“Things are happening quickly because we want to be able to put everyone involved in a good situation so that they know there are no questions going into next year, that’s just best for everybody,” Rourke said. “In terms of myself, as well as the Lions and whoever else is involved.”

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.