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Roughriders QB hopes CFL delay will be brief

Cody Fajardo’s last football memory is one he would rather forget.

Last November at Mosaic Stadium, his final pass attempt caromed off the crossbar, sending the Blue Bombers to the Grey Cup and the Roughriders into the off-season.

It’s a game he played with two torn oblique muscles, creating even more “what ifs.”

Unfortunately for Fajardo, due to the CFL’s decision to delay the start of training camps, it’s a memory he will be unable to erase from his mind anytime soon.

For Fajardo, six months without football is long enough.

“And now to say it’s postponed even more just makes it that much tougher,” said Fajardo from his home in the U.S.

“You want to get back on the field and get this bitter taste out of your mouth.” 

Fajardo, who just celebrated his 28th birthday, is a glass-half-full kind of guy. He hopes any delay will be a brief.

He wants to be ready to go, which is not so easy when you don’t have access to a gym, because due to COVID-19, they’re all closed.

“My wife and I have turned to on-TV workouts, which are actually really tough, and it kicks my butt,” he said.

“I’m just trying to find creative ways to stay in shape so when they tell us the season’s back on, whenever it is, I’m ready to hit the ground running.”

But the hardest aspect for him is not being able to work out with receivers. Playing catch is not exactly practising good social distancing.

“Everyone touching it, sweating, spitting on the football and stuff — it can get a little bit scary, so I haven’t been able to throw as much as I want.”

The 2020 training camp would be Cody Fajardo’s first as a starting quarterback in the CFL. He’s optimistic the season will be played. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press )

2019 was Cody Fajardo’s breakout year. After spending the first three years of his career as a backup, he took advantage of an injury to Zach Collaros and grabbed the reins as the Riders’ starter.

He led the league with 4,302 passing yards and 18 touchdowns. He was named a CFL all-star and the West Division’s most outstanding player.

2020 would be his first as the No. 1 guy going into training camp. His first camp with a contract appropriate for a starting quarterback in the CFL.

Now all that is on hold as the world deals with a health crisis.

He feels for some of his teammates who may have to make life-altering decisions if the delay is not a short one.

“I know the last five years of my career have been hard, just trying to make ends meet throughout the off season. I had to pick up some off-season jobs,” he said.

“There’s gonna be some guys that are going to have to make some decisions here. If the season is going to be delayed for long, are they going to wait to play football or are they going to have to jump into a career or a job just because they need money for their family?”

Fajardo, though, keeps in regular contact with the Riders’ new offensive co-ordinator, Jason Maas, as the playbook gets closer to completion.

Fajardo believes the fans will get excited over the new-look offence — provided there will be games played.

“I personally believe there will be a 2020 season. I don’t know when but me and my faith and how I’ve been raised, I’m a positive thinker and it’s up to us.”

He may not be able to practise football but he can practise social distancing and proper hand-washing. Fajardo says the more people that can do that, the quicker life can get back to normal.

“It’s bigger than just football. We’re all in this together. Our health is more important than just entertaining people.”

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