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October 21, 2016

Luc Mullinder’s ProPerspective- A Final Salute

The Toronto Argonauts defeat the Saskatchewan Roughriders in league play in Regina, SK June 30, 2016. (CFL PHOTO - Matt Smith)

Luc Mullinder

 

Dear Mosaic Stadium,

I know that you go by (old) Mosaic Stadium nowadays, but I’ll always know you as Taylor Field because that’s how we were first introduced.

I’ll never forget the first time we met. I was a hard-headed college kid that only identified with being a SPARTAN and was still forming the rest of my identity. I laughed at you when I first heard that you had managed to facilitate 54,000 people during the 2003 Grey Cup celebration. It sounded like you were proud of it. I felt entitled being from Ontario, and playing in a big time college program. It was as if 54,000 people watching a game was beneath my Big 10 pedigree. I remember scoffing at you and bragging, “Maan, we get 60,000 at our Green and White Inter-squad scrimmage during spring ball at State…” I must have sounded so stupid to you.

I barely made the team that year. As a matter of fact, I didn’t. I was asked to join the practise roster. I remember feeling my head and neck boil when I saw my name flash across the TSN ticker with the rest of the guys who were technically “released” on decision day. It was the first time that I felt like I was alone in the world. You humbled me.

I hadn’t listened to my people back home, and I thought I had you all figured out. I ignored my family’s pleas to get my mind right and it almost ruined me. You taught me that my attitude was going to have me hustling clothing with my Teague (my best friend) for the rest of my life.

You forced me to realize that everyone that got a chance to step on your astro-turf was somebody special. Everybody that jogged on to your field was a somebody at one point. I needed to grow up and you saw right through me.

I remember you allowing me to build confidence by getting acclimated to the CFL game against a few other rookies from the CIS, and then during my first practise in “Main Camp,” you put me up against Drew Greene in 1v1’s…I got my ass kicked…that was a grown man. Thankfully Drew became a great friend and mentor to me over the years. I love that guy!

You proceeded to play with my mind that whole camp. You threw a professional playbook at me on the first day and then expected me learn it right away all while having to cut my teeth against guys that had already gotten to know you. At one point, I think you felt that I still wasn’t getting it so you told Nate Davis to sit me down and tell me that if I didn’t learn the ropes, I was about to get shipped outta here. You knew that I’d listen to Nate because you saw me gravitate towards him as the days went by. I’m thankful that you put Nate in my life. He got me.

It wasn’t all bad though. For as many times as you tore me down, you offered a hand to get me up. You gave me a chance by forcing me to watch how Gene Makowsky and Jeremy O’Day carried themselves. You got me alone in a room one day with Eddie Davis, and pushed me to ask him how a “real pro” watches film. You sat me next to Scott Schultz who constantly talked about the things he was setting up for his life after football. You knew what I needed to hear in order to get me pointed in the right direction.

You also threw in some fun, and I appreciate that the most. Some of the greatest moments of my life stem from my relationship with you. I’ve got friends from all walks of life now and inside jokes that nobody will think are funny unless they’re shared within that special inner circle.

The reason I love you the most though Taylor Field is because you turned me into a WINNER. I had nothing substantial to be proud of before we met-but in 2007 you decided that me and a bunch of brothers had grown up enough to deserve a Championship Ring. I can’t explain what it feels like to belong to that group, but I know you get it. You’ve been incredibly selective about who you let make the next step. I’ll be a Champion for the rest of my life because of you! It’s an honour I’ll never be able to repay.

I’m gonna miss you Taylor. When it comes time to say goodbye, I’ll be as emotional as the next guy that you gave a chance to. It’s hitting me a bit right now just thinking about it.

Perhaps the thing that I appreciate the most is that you turned me into somebody that my mom could be proud of. I grew up because of you. You probably save my life.

I owe you a lot Taylor. I’ll spend the rest of my time in Saskatchewan telling people how special you truly were. I know there have been hundreds of young men that have come through your halls and experienced the same sort of journey I have. I guess I’m thanking you on behalf of them as well.

I love you. I’ll miss you. Thank you for everything.

Luc