Den­mark

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - FRONT PAGE -

Den­mark’s re­la­tion­ship with his own fa­ther was at times prob­lem­atic, which he says is typ­i­cal in the neigh­bour­hood in which he grew up in Jack­sonville.

“My dad and my mom split up when I was young. He wasn’t around much. He owned a tire shop, re­pair­ing tires for 18-wheel­ers. If I wanted to work, I could be around him. But that was the only way,” says Den­mark. “It was OK be­cause it paid well and it meant I al­ways had some money in my pocket. My friends at home, only a few of them had their dads in the pic­ture. To me, a boy needs a fa­ther. It’s easy to go the wrong way and make the wrong de­ci­sions. A fa­ther can help steer you down the right path.

“My re­la­tion­ship with my dad was strange. When I told him I wanted to go to col­lege and play foot­ball, he didn’t want me to go. He wanted me to work with him. That’s messed up. But I didn’t want to work there. We fig­ured things out a lit­tle later and when he died (in 2012), we were in a good place.”

Foot­ball al­ways came easy to Den­mark. He could run and he could catch. Even­tu­ally, he found his way to the NFL and spent the 2009 and 2010 sea­sons on the prac­tice ros­ter with the Jack­sonville Jaguars be­fore mak­ing the move to the CFL in 2011.

“I was of­fered a con­tract by Ed­mon­ton com­ing out of col­lege. (Eski­mos scout) Paul Jones came down and he had on these Grey Cup rings on his fin­gers and he said to me, ‘If you want one of these you’ll sign with us.’ I had only seen the CFL on TV a few times. It was al­ways Cal­gary and Toronto. I thought there were only two teams in the league,” Den­mark says with a laugh.

He re­buffed Jones to join the Jaguars and even­tu­ally signed in Win­nipeg.

Den­mark says he left the NFL be­cause he wanted to play in games and not just make money as a prac­tice player.

“In the end, I’m not con­fined to just be­ing a foot­ball player. I can do other things and I will when foot­ball is over. I could have hung around and even­tu­ally got to play in the NFL. Why do I say that? Well, and I don’t mean to put any­one down, but I was bet­ter than the guys ahead of me that were play­ing,” he says. “Al­most all those guys who were in Jack­sonville have ended up in the CFL.

“I wanted to play. You only have so much time.

‘Ev­ery rep in prac­tice, time in the film room. I no­ticed him right away when I got here. He does things the right way’

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