Nic Grigsby can’t wait.
Baseball was fun and all, but that sport will be there long after his body fails him. If he wants to go back, he can.
Football, says the former Arizona starting running back, is right now.
Given his checkered health history with the Wildcats, perhaps it made more sense to venture back to football.
Given his early success with the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers, perhaps it was the correct call.
After a near-miss attempt at catching on with an NFL team — his closest chance was with the Miami Dolphins in 2011, when he made it through four preseason games and to the final roster cut on Sept. 3 after being undrafted — Grigsby took his talents to the baseball diamond, playing for Arizona Christian University in 2013.
A connection to the front office with the Winnipeg football team brought him up north, however, and he’s making the most of his shot.
“Baseball is a beautiful game, but it’s a very slow game,” Grigsby said. “A lot of guys can do it, but it takes a lot of patience and time. Football is right now. I had the opportunity to play professional football, to be a starter, so I took it.”
Grigsby’s athletic journey has brought him from the gridiron to the diamond and back again, even if this time the tundra is a bit colder, even if this time the game is a little more spread out, even if this time every touchdown call includes an “Eh?”
As in, Grigsby for the score, eh?
He’s done it often so far up in Winnipeg for the Blue Bombers, rushing for a league-high three touchdowns through three games and he ranks second in the league with 218 rushing yards. The Blue Bombers will host Edmonton tonight in a battle of 3-0 teams.
Grigsby has found a home up in Winnipeg, where he said life is simple.
Things are pretty much the same as his life in America. He lives in a nice condo with a roommate. Television is similar, food is comparable.
“To be honest, nothing is different; being here is just like being at home.”
No, life hasn’t thrown him a curveball in a while. Things are stable.
He’s able to practice and prepare for opponents, and that’s the biggest difference for him between his foray back into baseball and his football focus.
“Preparation, that’s key up here,” Grigsby said. “A lot of people miss that about football, how important it is to prepare for a team. Baseball you don’t do that as much. You’re coming out, straight out of bed, and you swing the bat a little bit. You just go play and it’s mainly based on your natural ability.”
Natural ability has never been the issue for Grigsby
. Shoulder and ankle injuries slowed Grigsby in his final two college seasons and were a main reason why he was passed over in the NFL draft. He rushed for 1,100 total yards as an upperclassman after going for 1,153 during a breakthrough sophomore season.
That’s why he’s been able to appreciate his time in the CFL so far. Unlike his brief NFL appearances, every day hasn’t been solely dedicated to staying with the team, scratching and clawing just to get recognized. He’s been recognized. He’s been noticed.
Now he’s able to focus on each game at it comes, and making sure his body is ready for the upcoming week.
“Football you have to prepare yourself, act professional, stay healthy,” Grigsby said. “That was the hardest thing for me in college. ”
His perseverance made an impact on the Winnipeg coaching staff, who took a step further in cementing his status when the team cut 2013 starting running back Will Ford on Monday.
“Out of training camp he was the last man standing, and I would say barely, because he was nicked up coming out of training camp,” Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea told the Winnipeg Sun about Grigsby. “What I really appreciated right then and there is there were a couple days where it was iffy whether he could practice, and he gutted it out and to allow us to keep practicing and running our training camp.”
The starring role Grigsby dreaming once more of The League, as CFL-to-NFL success stories are nothing new. He doesn’t want to get ahead of himself, but he admits he has his eyes on the prize.
“Of course — a lot of guys understand that the CFL, it’s just as good, just as competitive,” Grigsby said. “A lot of guys from this league get picked up to go play. The opportunity to come back and to get on the field again — a lot of guys don’t get that opportunity, let alone get the opportunity to be a starter and make plays. I’m going to take my opportunity and run with it.”
Curiously enough, while he may have lacked some of the patience required to stick with baseball, he sees patience as a plus for him with the pigskin. See the hole. Hit the hole. Take off.
“Football is a game of patience, especially in the backfield,” Grigsby said. “But when you get your chance, you have to take it.”
In football, and in life, it seems.