Shawn Bane Jr. has established a healthy balance between fiction and reality.
The fictional component: He has been working on a book since 2021, the year in which he entered the CFL.
The reality: Bane Jr’s emergence as a top-tier receiver, as evidenced by his 93-catch, 1,104-yard season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2023.
Those numbers would have made him an attractive option on the open market, but it never got to that point. It was announced on Feb. 1 — shortly before the opening of the league’s free-agency negotiation window — that he had signed a new two-year contract with the Green and White.
“To know that a team wants me for the next two years and believes so by also putting the money and the resources behind that, it just makes sense,” Bane Jr. says from his home in Sarasota, Fla.
“I’m super-thankful and I’m honoured that they chose me. My job is just to make them right.”
He did precisely that in 2023 after being signed as a free agent by Roughriders Vice-President of Football Operations and General Manager Jeremy O’Day.
At the time, Bane Jr.’s statistical ledger as a professional football player consisted of 24 catches for 388 yards over two seasons (and 13 games) as a member of the Calgary Stampeders.
The Roughriders’ brass believed his skills put him in line to become a breakout player.
Once the blueprint unfolded as anticipated, he was in an entirely different situation as a pending free agent.
“It definitely is different when your work also shows, versus saying, ‘Believe in me. Trust in me. Pick me,’ in a sense,” he says. Having that little bit of success behind it obviously opens teams’ eyes to what I can do.
“I’ve always trusted in myself and my craft and my ability. All I needed was somebody else to believe. It doesn’t matter how many nos you get. What matters is the one yes.
“Whoever says ‘yes’ to me, I’ll make them right and they’ll be like, ‘That was a great investment.’ That’s all I wanted — for it to be a great investment.”
That led to a second investment, in the form of Bane Jr.’s second contract with the Roughriders.
“Truly, I think they see a little more potential, and I do as well,” he says.
Consider what could be accomplished with some continuity at the all-important position of quarterback.
Last season, Bane Jr. put up impressive numbers — including the eighth-best single-season receptions total in franchise history — even though three quarterbacks received significant playing time as the starter.
Trevor Harris started the first five games before suffering a season-ending knee injury, one from which he has fully recovered. Mason Fine made the next four starts before injury a hamstring. Jake Dolegala took over for the final nine games.
Although the position was in flux, Bane Jr.’s production was a constant.
“I’ve had a different quarterback every year of my life since the 10th grade in high school … every single year,” he says with a chuckle. It’s literally just playing into the story.
“I’m definitely grateful to even have the little bit of success that I did with three different quarterbacks. You can’t make this stuff up.”
Unlike a piece of fiction, with requires a fertile imagination and a way with words.
“I’ve been working on a book for a minute, actually,” Bane Jr. says. “I just want to write a book. I think that would be cool to add to a resume — author and college grad and father and business owner and entrepreneur.
“I think it will add a really cool touch to life. If we should do anything before we leave this Earth, it should be to write a book.”
His lengthy to-do list includes matters pertaining to the Bane’s World Clothing Co., which was founded in 2020.
“I’ve been busy getting my brand off the ground,” says the force behind banesworldclothingco.com.
“We definitely expect some new clothes and nice hoodies and some merch that will be quality, so I’m excited to be presenting it.”
The excitement extends to a newly installed, Corey Mace-led coaching staff that includes Offensive Co-ordinator Marc Mueller, to whom Bane Jr. was introduced when they were both with the Stampeders.
“I think he’ll add a creative piece to getting everybody the ball, whether it’s the running backs or the receivers,” Bane Jr. said.
“He definitely knows how to write up plays and he’s a players’ coach, so he can truly understand what you do well and put you in those situations to do exactly that.”
Bane Jr. is also upbeat about having a full season in which to collaborate with Harris, whose experience and attention to detail are invaluable.
“It’s important to get on that same page and have everyone understand what to do,” Bane Jr. says. “That’s crucial when you’re tired or with understanding the type of cuts that you make or where you want the ball when you catch it so you can get yards after the catch.
“It can come down to something like eye contact or a hand signal to know that, ‘Hey, we both see where the safety is. We’re going to go over top or we’re going to cut across his face.’
“It’s a bunch of small things that, when the game’s on the line or when it’s cold in the playoffs, those are the things that are going to make a difference.
“Having a quarterback, especially like Trev, who is very meticulous about what he does and how he operates and how he approaches the game, having us both on that page, we can really put a dent in how we do things and probably bring home a trophy.”