For the most part of CFL players, when they are on the field, set to play in 2021it will mark well over a full calendar year since they were on the field last for a CFL game. Due to the spread of the coronavirus and the world-wide pandemic that we’ve been faced with, there was no 2020 CFL season but for two time CFL Eastern All-Star Jonathan Rose that was one of two seasons that he’s missed, making his 2021 comeback even more exciting. In his CFL career, he has played the majority of his team’s games when he was with the Ottawa Redblacks, missing just 4 games in his first 3 seasons in the league. In his most recent season though, he missed a total 15 of the 18 games on the season. Suffering a neck injury on July 5th 2019 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at TD Place, he was taken out out the season just 3 games in and many would have thought he’d never play football again, “I was told a couple times that I probably shouldn’t (play again) but I didn’t let that get to my head. A lot of people do meditations or yoga to put themselves in a good place mentally, football is my yoga and I need it just as much as those people need their meditations and yoga.”
Having his mind set on playing football again, Jonathan Rose stayed around the game of football. Even though he couldn’t play for the team, he spent the remainder of the 2019 CFL season with the Ottawa Redblacks, installing a powerful energy into the locker room. When talking about the season he spent on the sidelines he said, “it wasn’t fun. It was my first major injury where I had to sit out a full season, but for me I felt like it was good to stay around my teammates and give the team the energy they needed during games.” For Rose and the Redblacks, it was a good situation for both sides, he was able to keep his mind set on football and in a 3-15 season the Ottawa Redblacks needed all of the energy they could get on the sidelines for the rest of the season. For the rest of the season as well, while being on the sidelines and being around the team Jonathan Rose was starting his rehabilitation, doing everything he had to to be able to play football again, starting off by having neck surgery in late January in 2020. “After I had surgery, I had a neck brace so I couldn’t do any workouts or anything, but as soon as it was off in March I was working consistently to be healthy enough to play again because that was the goal.”
In early March, Rose’s neck brace was taken off and he was then able to work on getting strong enough to play again, though unlike a usual injury rehab he was forced to do it on his own at home. During the exact time period in which he had his neck brace taken off, a world-wide pandemic had started and due to the coronavirus gyms were closed, hospitals and doctors offices were emergency only, team facilities were closed as well as the majority of stores and public areas. This affected his rehab, but at the same time helped his rehab. Along with the closures and cancellations, the CFL was forced to shut down their 2020 season which while still being stuck at home for his rehab gave Jonathan Rose more time to get himself ready to play football again and also life after football. “It was a blessing in disguise.” Rose said, “Having the CFL season cancelled in 2020 I didn’t have to worry whether I’d miss another season or not so it gave me more time to workout and get ready to play in 2021.” He then continued to talk about what he ended up doing throughout the lockdown, “I tried to stay as busy as possible during the time I had. In June when I was officially cleared to play football again I continued to do small workouts and build my strength up but I also explored opportunities for what I’ll do after football. Being hurt and being told that I might never play again gave me a reason to do stuff to prep for my life after football.”
As for his life after football, Jonathan Rose wants to explore his chances at becoming a guidance counselor and thanks to this quarantine he was able to learn more about the job and finish his degree at the University of Nebraska where he had his football scholarship when he played there. He said in an interview, “I want to be a guidance counselor of some sort later on when I’m done with my football career. It’s always been something I’ve been interested in, just to be able to help the younger generation and thanks to a few teachers in Ottawa, I was able to meet with a few classes and talk to them.” For the most part when you hear of professional athletes talking to a class or a group in general it would be about sports but for Rose it was different, he explained, “It was the first time I talked to a group and was focused on talking about life and not just sports. For me it was a great experience to be able to do that, and to be able to do something where I can see more of what I might do in a job in the future and I was also able to finish my degree which is going to help in the future too and I’m excited about that.” Of course finishing his degree and focusing on his life after football was something Rose had higher up on his priorities list, and just recently we were taught as football fans that the players aren’t the only ones working during the pandemic. In the CFL, since the league shut down in August and after the free agent list came out in November, teams have been actively working on building their rosters for the 2021 season and among the teams doing exactly that is the Edmonton Football Team.
Edmonton, recently has been in the headlines for restructuring a contract with former Ottawa quarterback and current starting quarterback Trevor Harris, freeing up cap room for free agent signings like the one they announced yesterday signing Jonathan Rose. The contract between the two is a huge headline for the CFL. Rose, a two time CFL Eastern All star, Redblacks’ 2016 rookie of the year and Grey Cup Champion is without a doubt one of the best cornerbacks in the CFL right now and there is no arguing that the Edmonton Football Team won big with this signing. “I’m very excited.” said Jonathan Rose, “Its been a longtime for everyone in the CFL since we played but adding that injury to it for me its been even longer and I speak for all of the CFL players when I say this, we’re going to be like kids in a candy store when we get on that field for 2021.”
With that being said, its clear that Jonathan Rose and his teammates will be excited for the day CFL football returns and now with his new contract Rose has, “one less thing to worry about” he says. In June when he was cleared to play football again he was officially released by the Ottawa Redblacks, making him a free agent and he hadn’t heard from the Redblacks’ front office to bring him back, giving him the go ahead to talk to new teams. Out of all of the teams in the CFL that he was talking to the Edmonton Football Team is the team he feels the most “comfortable” with, he said himself, “the team has a lot of familiar faces. Even though its a new team, new colors and a whole new city for me it isn’t all that different. They have Brock at GM who helped bring me in the CFL in the first place and then on the coaching staff they have Thorpe who coached me in 18’ and 19’, not even talking about the players you can call it the ‘Redblacks 2.0’ with Trevor, Greg, Sir V and everyone else there.”
In football, and in all professions it often comes down to who you know. For this case, with Jonathan Rose becoming a free agent and all of the familiarity he has in Edmonton it did come down to just that, but it also came down to the talent as well. Rose isn’t just some average player that the Edmonton Football Team wants to have around because they ‘know’ him, they brought him in to win. Rose, in 4 seasons in the CFL has played in 53 career games, tallying up 166 total tackles while forcing 15 turnovers, scoring two touchdowns as well as getting one quarterback sack. The numbers speak for themselves and show exactly what kind of player he is and he wants to make sure that people know that Jonathan Rose can still play in the CFL, even after not playing for two years. He commented, “Edmonton has a lot of success, and we can have some more success. I’m there to be the best player that I can be and to give them the best chance to get their 15th Grey Cup Championship.” Not only is he looking at winning but also creating opportunity, “The franchise has a good history of bringing guys to the NFL and as much as it may seem like a closed opportunity I still want to get a shot at it and being in Edmonton gives me the best chance to make that a possibility.”
To start off what we hope will be a good year in 2021, Jonathan Rose has finally got the call to play football again. For all CFL and football fans in general this should be something to be excited for. Watch out for Rose and the Edmonton Football Team in the 2021 CFL return to play football season as he looks to bring the 15th Grey Cup back to his new home in Edmonton.
Congratulations Jonathan Rose.