The emails keep on coming from people who want to give Canadian Football League commissioner Randy Ambrosie whatever help they can on his pet international project.
“Not just from within Canada, I probably get five a week from various people around the football world who are offering to lend a helping hand,” Ambrosie said recently. “The idea within the football community has been very well received. I love it.
“I can’t respond to all of them as quickly as I’d like but certainly the positive response is there.”
One such offer came from the heart and mind of Micah Brown, a former quarterback who had a brief fling with the CFL in Toronto and Hamilton in 2009, played in the Arena League, won a world championship with Team USA, starred in the professional ranks in Germany, Poland and Finland for a decade and has retired, more or less, in Halifax, where he played for the Saint Mary’s University Huskies in 2010, and has been an offensive assistant coach for two seasons. He also spent a season as an assistant coach at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish.
“If the CFL team comes out here to Halifax, sweet, I’ll play,” said the 32-year-old. “But as soon as they talk about trying to trade me, I’m done.”
The New York state native who grew up in Florida and has travelled the world with a football under his arm, will never really be done with the game, that much is obvious. He loves and respects it too much and is determined to give back at least a measure of the riches, both financial and personal, that it provided him.
That’s why he reached out to Ambrosie, offering to leverage his considerable connections in Europe, Asia and South America to the benefit of CFL 2.0, the global outreach initiative.
“I feel this is a huge step for the Canadian football community, the league and the country as whole,” said Brown. “Speaking as a foreigner myself, I’m grateful for the opportunities Canada has blessed me with and continues to do so.”
Brown said he hasn’t heard back from Ambrosie yet, but he’s busy enough anyway. He runs a football-specific high performance training company called BATLX, but that’s just one facet of his dedication to the sport. Two years ago he founded the Halifax Harbour Hawks, a developmental program for players 17 and older. Two of his kids have already gone on to play in France, for the Grenoble Centaures. He’s now adding a minor football component to the brand; providing opportunities for mites, atoms, peewees and bantams.
“I wanted to bring football here so these guys can learn, play and grow. I wanted to have a professional approach. I wanted these guys to feel like this is their pro team. The first year we ended up having only 23 guys and we’re at 57 right now,” said Brown.
“That’s all I’m trying to do, give back, help out any way I can when it comes to football because it was really good to me. It allowed me to earn a living, travel the world, earn three degrees, I found my wife (Kelly). It might not do that for everybody else, but I know it will do something.”
Through BATLX, Brown offers football combine training that sets players up to perform well during testing and one-on-one drills.
He has also continued to provide over-the-phone mentoring to German quarterback Sonny Weishaupt, who will be one of 18 Europeans at the CFL Combine in Toronto this weekend. They met in 2013 in Marburg, Germany, where Brown did double duty as a quarterback and offensive co-ordinator. Their relationship apparently took some time to develop.
“In Marburg, I was trying to help him out and I think he was taken aback because normally a lot of Americans don’t help the guys out there,” recalled Brown.
“But I’m teaching this guy everything I know and he’s not really listening to me. When he finally realized I was there for the team and not just for my own glory, we started becoming better friends and then it turned into me being more of a mentor and a big brother to him. My whole approach was, I want to help guys be better.”
Brown also knows another handful of Finnish and German kids who will be sweating it out in hopes of impressing CFL personnel at the University of Toronto over the weekend. He can’t be at the combine due to business commitments, but he’ll be checking in on the progress of his friends.
By Dan Barnes
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019