The play was simple enough.
A quick pass out to the flat from Manitoba Bison quarterback Shane Munson to receiver Adrian Huntley in the third quarter of a game against the Calgary Dinosaurs late last month.
But the result was anything but ordinary.
Huntley, a Fort Frances native and former Muskie, was hit hard and low by the Calgary cornerback—suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right leg.
It was a painful end to another banner season for the talented receiver. Such a good season, in fact, that Huntley recently was named a Canada West all-star.
“It is all about respect,” Bison head coach Brian Dobie said yesterday about Huntley’s nomination. “He really only played six games, missed a lot of practice with the stomach problems, and still put up those numbers.”
To make matters worse, the play probably wouldn’t have resulted in such a serious injury if the Bisons had been playing on the soft, grassy confines of their home field.
But this was Calgary’s McMahon Stadium, home to a football player’s worst nightmare—artificial turf.
“On grass, I probably would be fine,” said Huntley, who admitted he knew he was in trouble right after getting hit.
While the injury itself forced an abrupt end to Huntley’s stellar collegiate football career, it also has slowed down his professional one.
Huntley (whose parents, Dennis and Grace, still live in Fort Frances) had been in talks with Winnipeg Blue Bomber GM Brendan Taman in the weeks before.
The Bombers, decimated by the lack of quality Canadian talent during the tumultuous tenure of head coach Jeff Reinebold, are in a serious search for players.
So much so that Huntley, University of Saskatchewan running back Doug Rozon, and Alberta Golden Bears receiver Jamie Stoddard—all fifth-year, undrafted players—have been touted as being put on the Bombers’ negotiation list.
Huntley said his injury couldn’t have come at a worse time.
While he hasn’t had contact specifically with Taman since the injury, the Bombers have asked trainer Jeff Fisher to work on his rehabilitation.
Huntley said he expects to meet with a surgeon in the next week or so. After that, he’s told it will take about six months before he’ll be ready to go again.
He hopes the Bombers will still be interested.
“When I’m healthy, I hope [Winnipeg] doesn’t back down,” said Huntley, who finished the season with 32 receptions and four touchdowns.
Still, as a free agent, Huntley has other options in the CFL. But Dobie said Taman definitely was excited about the prospects of him coming to the Bombers’ camp.
But will he be ready for camp next June? Huntley sure hopes so.
“It will be close. They say six months but that’s the maximum,” he noted. “I have other options where teams are interested but the Bombers would be the perfect situation.
“I grew up watching them, this is my home now, and it’s close enough that my mom and dad can come and watch me play,” he reasoned.