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Waiting out the longest CFL off-season with EE football defensive back Jordan Hoover

Saskatchewan Roughriders' Kyran Moore (85) is tackled by Edmonton Eskimos' Jordan Hoover (28) during second half CFL action in Edmonton, Alta., on Saturday October 26, 2019.
Saskatchewan Roughriders' Kyran Moore (85) is tackled by Edmonton Eskimos' Jordan Hoover (28) during second half CFL action in Edmonton, Alta., on Saturday October 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson.

As the Canadian Football League enters the 10th month without football, it is now the longest off-season ever for the league.

The Grey Cup game in Calgary on Nov. 24, 2019 when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers beat the Hamilton Tiger Cats was the last time the CFL was in action, and, to be honest, no one can say with any certainty when the next game will be.

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down the league for the 2020 season and the CFL has has turned its sights to 2021.

Read more: CFL 2020 season officially cancelled

The last time the Edmonton football club played a game was the week before the Grey Cup in a loss to the Tiger Cats in Hamilton in the East Final. Over the next few days, the off-season began for so many EE players

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“Nobody saw it coming,” third-year defensive back Jordan Hoover said from his new home in Sault Ste Marie, Ont.

“I remember leaving the locker room in late November, early December last year and thinking ‘I’ll be back in May and see my teammates’, but wow, just wow.”

Hoover settled into the longest off-season ever and strangest summer he has ever had.

“I’ve been playing football for almost 20 years. That’s been my summer for the last 20 years. Not having football in my life right now, I feel like I lost a little part of me. I found myself just wandering around the house.”

Read more: Edmonton football team gear flying off the shelves after dropping ‘Eskimos’ from name

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The 27-year-old Waterloo grad tried to stay ready for when, or if, a 2020 season was to start, but he was also realistic. He said he kept working out waiting and hoping for good news that never came.

“Control what you can control. That’s kind of been my motto through my whole career,” he said.

“First you get hit in March with the combine being cancelled. Where do we go from here? Still train like there is going to be a season. Then that gets pushed back. Now we are thinking Canada Day start, then it’s an end of July start now we are thinking August — it keeps getting pushed back.

“It takes a mental toll on your mind; working through it one day at a time it kind of felt like some days were on repeat but you just keep going. Now we are here in September, you blink and its six months later.”

Read more: CFL players are getting back to work after season cancelled

Along with his girlfriend Mikayla, he spent time working around the new house and staying busy, and has a plan to be ready physically in May for training camp and is taking a positive approach.

“It’s added time not a loss of time,” he said. “I have an additional three months to keep the base, then when its time I will get back in the gym full time.”

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Not playing Labour Day was hard, he said.

“I was going through severe withdraws. If there is one game you wish you could play its that one.”

Sports journalist Darrell Davis on the cancelled CFL season
Sports journalist Darrell Davis on the cancelled CFL season

Watching NFL games was also hard.

“I think I watched [the first game] with my nose about an inch from the TV. It was good to see football,” said the Green Bay Packers fan. “It makes me really miss it.”
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Hoover hopes the short-term pain for the CFL for players and for the fans will be worth it.

“It sucks loosing the 2020 season. Did we make the right decision? You have to believe yes. Half the reason we didn’t play in 2020 was to make sure this league survives pushing forward into the next season.”

CFL announces 2020 season officially cancelled
CFL announces 2020 season officially cancelled

The league and the players now have to get on the same page and hash out some issues — and Hoover is confident that will happen

“A lot of the right people and a lot of the right ideas are being put in place. It is one of the first times that we are all getting along and the table is open for change,” he said.

“It’s the perfect time to go to the negotiation table for an extended period of time and hash out the uglies and just focus on good quality CFL football for 2021.

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“I think that’s exactly what they are doing and I think we are going to have a fantastic season next year and a fantastic product to show the fans.”

The CFL 2020 season was officially cancelled on Aug. 17.