By: Santino Filoso
Today we sit down with Ottawa native and former Rough Rider linebacker Gord Weber. Weber was drafted in the 7th round after an award winning CIS career (CIS First Team All Canadian twice) where he was a QQIFC All-Star and the QQIFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1989 with the Ottawa GeeGees. Gord played for the Rough Riders from 1990 until 1994.
RR: Growing up in Ottawa, did you get a chance to take in a lot of games at Lansdowne?
GW: I used to deliver the Ottawa Citizen newspaper just to get free tickets. Back then if you had a paper route you got into the end zone section for free. Being a 12 year old it was scary because after every field goal or extra point there used to be fights for the footballs that went over the fence.
How did it feel to be drafted by your hometown team, did you have any indication before the draft that Ottawa might take you?
It was an honour to be drafted by my hometown team, growing up my mother went to all my games and being drafted by Ottawa meant she could continue to watch every game. Not to mention the fact that I was able to keep my friends from high school and university that were from Ottawa.
During your time in Ottawa the team changed the logo on the helmets from the traditional white R to the double flaming Rs. Which did you prefer?
The original R is the one and only Rough Riders logo in my opinion. End of story and no doubt about it
You managed to get to the playoffs every season you played, how is playoff football different from the regular season?
In a small league of 8 teams you are never counted out. Much like this year’s Redblacks team you are never out till the season is over. When playoffs come it’s a new season and you just need to be on a hot streak (not that we ever had one in the playoffs) and from there you never know what can happen. Over the years there have been many sub 500 teams went on to win the Grey Cup.
Who was your funniest teammate?
With a team of 50 players there were always characters… but I have to say that Jeff Brazwell was up there, some of the stuff that came out of his mouth was gold, he knew how to keep the team laughing and loose.
What was the hardest hit you ever laid on someone?
Man there was a lot that a have given, and I took a few as well. I loved to blow people up on special teams, nothing like running down the field 40 yards at full speed and launching yourself into a wall of people. I remember Carl Coultier when he was playing for BC and it was his first game as a long snapper and this was when you were able to take runs at the long snapper. So all game I kept chirping him saying “Don’t f*ck up or you’ll get cut!”. He kept his head down too long and I must’ve ear holed him a few times. In pop warner football I put a few QB’s out. Big hits come when you’re not looking, so when you blind side someone it’s always fun.
Did you have a favorite (or least favorite) stadium to play in?
Well you have to always love playing in your hometown. But I will tell you I am glad I never played for Hamilton, that was the worst stadium ever. They repainted the logo every year so it was like a ice rink and the walls were only 10 yards away from sidelines of the field. It was the dirtiest field too, I don’t think they cleaned once since they put the turf in, so when you got turf burn by the time you got to the sidelines, your burn was already starting to ooze pus.
Were you a superstitious player, as in did you have any specific pre-game rituals?
Before games I always watched a VCR tape of the NFL’s hardest hits, and when I got dressed I always did everything right to left; right sock, then left sock, right shoe then left shoe…etc.
Looking back on your career, what are you most proud of?
Well, I’m proud that I was able to play a game I loved and make a little money, even though I tore my ACL twice and had to walk away from the game, it’s an achievement that many cannot say they accomplished. Also, I’m proud of the work I was able to do in the Ottawa community speaking with kids and adults about being positive in life and being the best you can be.
Have you been to any Redblacks games this season?
Yes actually, I’m a photographer and shoot for the CFL so I have been to them all. You can see my work at www.gordweber.com. Be warned what you see at my website cannot be unseen, haha
North or South Side?
What are you doing for work nowadays?
I’m a photographer in the Ottawa area and specialize in Fitness, Glamour and Commercial Photography. I love what I do, so I can’t really say that I work. This year alone, I’ve travelled to Mexico, Dominican Republic, Revelstoke (BC) and through Ontario to photograph beautiful people. If you’re doing something you love and it’s fun then you can’t call it work.
Why did you choose to get into photography?
I didn’t choose it, it kind of chose me. I picked up a camera 10 years ago and just couldn’t put it down. I begged people to allow me to photograph them and attended sports games and other events just to shoot. All of a sudden people started asking me to do their pictures, weddings, events, etc. At first I did it for fun, but then I started getting too many requests, so I started charging a fee. It was a great way to make some extra cash while I was working in the wine business. Eventually I was able to make more and took the leap to making it my career.
How does your playing experience make you a better sports photographer?
Well as I say to my students when I teach photography workshops, if you understand your subject you’re able to put yourself in the best location to get the shot. My CFL career has been asset because I understand the game and the behaviour of the athletes which in turn makes me have a higher quality shot ratio than many.
Do you still keep in touch with any of your old teammates?
Because Ottawa was my hometown, I always had my friends that I grew up with. Also playing on a team that went through players like water it was tough to have a really close bond. Over the 5 years I was part of the Rough Riders, only 5 others played with me throughout the entire time. The turnover on the team was crazy, so I didn’t stay in touch with too many guys. That being said there’s a few that are still in the Ottawa area that I still see and talk to once in awhile.
Thanks for your time Gord!