#TBT: An Interview with Stephen Jones

By: Santino Filoso

stephenjones

Today we catch up with Stephen Jones, one of the best WRs to ever suit up for an Ottawa CFL team. During the course of his stellar 10 year career, Jones played for Saskatchewan, Edmonton and Ottawa, was a two-time CFL All-Star, three time CFL East All-Star and won a Grey Cup with Edmonton Eskimos in 1987. Jones made 51 career TD grabs and sits 2nd on Ottawa’s career reception list with 278 catches to his credit, trailing only Tony Gabriel.

Originally you played QB in college. When did you make the transition to receiver and just how difficult was it?

The first time I played receiver was my senior year in university. It was tough at first but at the university level I did well because of my athletic ability. 

What was your initial impression of Ottawa when you first came to the city in 1990?

I loved Ottawa long before I signed with the team in 1990. The first time I came to this city was in 1985 or 1986 and it was definitely the most beautiful city I’d seen in all my travels. I knew then, that Ottawa was a place where I would like to live out my life.

In 1992, you racked up 254 receiving yards in a single game vs the Argos, what do you remember about that day?

It was the season opener and “The Rocket” (Raghib Ismail) was coming to town but my teammates and I showed off and stole his spotlight. There were a lot of great plays but two in particular come to mind. The first was a catch that Jock Climie made while lying on his back. The other was a seven yard pass that I dropped that would have given me the record for most yards in one game.

During your time in Ottawa, the team went through a number of uniform and logo changes. Is there any jersey that you really liked or disliked and what logo did you prefer?

Without any question, the all black uniform with the “R” was my all time favorite.  I loved playing in that uniform.

Stephan Jones Ottawa Rough Riders 1991. Photo F. Scott Grant

What was your favourite (or least favourite) stadium to play in?

I really loved playing in BC Place because the track was fast and the weather was always great.  Ottawa and Hamilton were tied for next best stadiums due to the close proximity of the stands to the players.

Statistically speaking, the three best years of your career happened in Ottawa. How did you manage to take your game to another level during your time with the Rough Riders?

The ability to stay healthy was a key component. The fact that Ottawa’s turf was hard and fast was a great help.

In 1995 you went from playing for the Rough Riders to marketing and coaching with them. Tell us how that came about and what you most enjoyed about that experience.

That was a tough time for me as well as all the Ottawa fans.  There was nothing pleasant about my playing career being cut short and I was trying to find a positive side to my career ending before it should have. It gave me valuable experience in dealing with the business community.

 Throughout the course of your career you had the opportunity to catch passes from a number of QBs. Who were some of your favourites?

Without a doubt it was Matt Dunnigan, followed by Damon Allen and Tom Burgess.  Matt threw the best deep pass in all of football, no one was better.  Tom Burgess was such a fighter and a winner and Damon turned out to be the greatest QB of all time in the CFL.

You were on the receiving end of a number of big hits, who hit the hardest?

A guy nicknamed “Pipes”  (Bobby Dawson), he would lay you out.

Were you a superstitious player?

Not at all but I was a bit crazy.

What was the most disappointing loss of your career?

Nothing was as crushing as the ’92 Ottawa playoff game in Hamilton.  The Rough Riders were winning by two touchdowns with three minutes left in the game and we somehow managed to lose.

This is a two part question. I’ve heard that you are a great singer. What is your go-to karaoke song and would you ever consider singing the national anthem at TD Place?

It’s been a while as far as singing goes, and over the years I have lost my voice.  If I had to pick a song to sing it would be “Baby Stay With Me”  by Jeffery Osborn. And I would decline the offer to sing the national anthem, if I was asked.

Every player has a nickname or two – what was yours?

Step Toe

Looking back on your 10 years in the CFL, what are you most proud of?

Being on a team that won the Grey Cup.

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In 1987 Jones was the Eskimo’s 2nd leading pass receiving with 55 catches for 1147 yards and 8 touchdowns. He also had 51 kickoff returns for 957 yards

 

Why did you choose to settle down in Ottawa after your playing career finished?

I love the city, the people are wonderful and the fishing is great.  It’s the perfect place to raise a family.

Since you retired, what have you been doing for work?

I’ve been in the security business and I’ve met a lot of terrific people.

Which current CFL wide receiver is your favourite to watch?

It is hard to pick one as they move around so much in the league, but I like Chad Owens, Emmanuel Arceneaux, and the receivers in Montreal. It looks like Ottawa just picked up a few good ones too.

If you could give young receivers a single piece of advice, what would it be?

Forget about how you look when going after a ball and that you don’t always have to use your hands. Just catch it however you can and never let the ball hit the ground.

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Check out Jones following his advice, again and again and again and again and again

 Have you made it out to any Redblacks games?

Of course, I’m a season ticket holder and I’m thrilled that CFL is back in Ottawa.

Thank you so much for your time and all the amazing catches you made while in Ottawa. You were easily one of the most entertaining players R-Nation has had the pleasure of watching wear the R.

@RedBlackGade

– Images via Scott Grant

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The Maas Effect; Argos Loss = Redblacks Gain

By: Santino Filoso

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Christmas came early for R-Nation, as yesterday afternoon the Ottawa Redblacks announced the addition of Bryan Chiu to their coaching staff. The 40 year old Chiu becomes the Redblacks first true offensive line coach, as last season former offensive co-ordinator Mike Gibson coached the offensive line in addition to calling plays.

Chiu, a 13 year CFL veteran, was a seven time all-star, winning two Grey Cups with the Montreal Alouettes in 2002 and 2009 and he also captured the award for the CFL’s top lineman in 2002. As a player, Chiu was known to be an offensive lineman with an edge, the kind of guy you love to have on your team but hate to play against. Hopefully Chiu can instil some of that tough mentality to an Ottawa offensive line that was simply pushed around too often last season.

BRYAN CHIU

Since his retirement following the 2009 season, Chiu has gone on to coach in the CIS with the Concordia Stingers, working as their OL coach and assistant offensive co-ordinator from 2010-2013. Last season Chiu coached a Toronto Argonaut’s offensive line that allowed 42 sacks in 681 drop backs, which equals 1  sack given up every 16 passing plays. Not bad at all when you consider the Redblacks gave up  56 sacks in 591 drop backs, or a sack every 10 passing plays. In terms of the running game, the Argos averaged 5.3 yards per carry and 91 per game compared to the Redblacks 4.9 yards per carry and 82 per game.

One way to look at this addition is that Jason Maas’ hiring as the offensive co-ordinator is already paying off in spades as on he was able to lean on his relationship with the former CFL all-star and lure him away from the Argos. Head Coach Rick Campbell alluded to as much saying:

Bryan understands the CFL and specifically offensive line play in the CFL. He’s also familiar with our new offensive coordinator Jason Maas after coaching together last year in Toronto so we think that relationship will continue to build and help us be successful. Bryan is up and coming with a long successful career as a player and a promising career as a coach in the CFL.”

Having both Maas and Chiu on the Redblacks coaching staff probably also gives the Redblacks an inside track on some of the Argo’s free agents. A guy like Tyler Holmes, who Chiu coached all last season, might be more willing to sign in Ottawa as he’ll already know a few familiar faces.

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In my opinion the most important thing about this signing is that it shows R-Nation that management has watched the tape and sees what we the fans see, and isn’t afraid to spend to get better. Our offensive line was a weakness last season but bringing a guy like Chiu in directly addresses this weakness and makes the team better. Though Chiu is young and perhaps a little inexperienced in terms of coaching, I think he’s exactly what the doctor ordered.

What do you think of Bryan Chiu’s signing?

@RedBlackGade