The blonde hair’s a little thinner, the muscles ache a bit more and although never the swiftest quarterback, Dave Dickenson has probably slowed down a smidgen, too.
But with age comes perspective and the 33-year-old was right on target with his outlook on life yesterday as the Calgary Stampeders embarked on their gruelling training camp at McMahon Stadium.
“When I walked in I just said to myself, ‘Listen, enjoy this because it could be the last one,’” the Montana native revealed.
“I don’t remember saying that ever, in any other year, even though potentially it always can be the last year.”
Dogged by injuries his entire Canadian Football League career, a series of scary concussions has him pondering retirement. A serious head injury last season with the B.C. Lions limited Dickenson to just five games.
The 2000 CFL most outstanding player got his start with the Stamps in 1996, eventually bolting to the NFL for a couple of years before returning to the Lions where he earned the 2006 Grey Cup MVP.
He owns a home in Calgary, lives here year-round and signed with the Stamps in the off-season, intent on serving as an efficient and trustworthy backup to starter Henry Burris.
“I need to work hard and do all the right things but I’m going to enjoy it,” insisted Dickenson, willingly conceding this is Burris’ football team.
“To me that’s one of the reasons I came back — to connect with the city and try to win. The pressure’s a little less when you’re not the starter.”
That transition to a new team hasn’t been without a few bumps. In yesterday morning’s session Dickenson had some puzzled receivers looking at him in the huddle after forgetting he’s no longer wearing Lions’ colours.
“I used B.C. terminology once today and the guys looked at me like I was crazy,” Dickenson said with a grin.
“But that’s what happens when you’re in the same system for five years. Here some things are coached a little differently, like ball-handling technique, so I’m going to have to work harder to break old habits.
“It’s fun again and it actually makes this a little more exciting that it’s not the status quo — it’s not the same.”