Rookie CFL official learns breaks of the game | Football | CBC Sports

CFLRookie CFL official learns breaks of the game

Posted: Sunday, September 16, 2012 | 10:46 PM

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Adam Paradowski's job often puts him in the line of fire on the field. (John Ulan/Canadian Press) Adam Paradowski's job often puts him in the line of fire on the field. (John Ulan/Canadian Press)

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Adam Paradowski's rookie season as a Canadian Football League official spanned a heart attack, a naked man and a broken leg.

It was also filled with strong reports back to head office that seem to have ensured the Winnipeg resident will be back at it again next year.
Adam Paradowski's rookie season as a Canadian Football League official spanned a heart attack, a naked man and a broken leg.

It was also filled with strong reports back to head office that seem to have ensured the Winnipeg resident will be back at it again next year.

Paradowski was five minutes away from the end of his sixth regular season game in Week 9 at Montreal, when an innocuous shove in the back by Als' guard Ryan Bomben, sent Hamilton end Brandon Boudreau into the umpire's right knee.

He grimaced. He clutched it. The Montreal doctor said it was a bone problem, not a ligament. It felt OK. Pardowski finished the final five minutes. It became painful in the dressing room and, well, he couldn't walk.

It was fractured, you see, and he's in the middle of a six-week recovery in a full leg brace.

And you thought football players were tough.

"When I went in the dressing room, we did our post-game in there and I put some ice on it," says Paradowski, an experienced college official who specialized in umpire, the most dangerous position on the field because you sit right behind the linebacker in the middle of the action.

"After sitting down and relaxing for a little bit, I got up to grab a shower and couldn't walk on it anymore."

There was a crack on the tibial plateau, where the big bone forms the knee.

One of the first to check on Paradowski after he was hit was referee Andre Proulx, who by coincidence was the crew chief at his first game in Edmonton on Week 1. Proulx had suffered a small heart attack that day and was just getting back to action in Week 9.

Paradowski has joked the league may keep him around if he can stop running into people, but there doesn't seem to be much chance he won't get another call next year when, once again, the CFL makes room for young officials in the first half of the season prior to Labour Day.

George Black, who runs the shop, has been nothing but effusive in his praise of the New Brunswick native every time he's asked, pointing to Paradowski's presence as something that has caught everyone's eye.

It's  Kipling-esque - If you can keep your head while two 300 pounders are wrestling for their lives less than a yard away...

"I think the hits are something you get used to," Paradowski says. "When you are watching on television, you can see the collisions coming before they happen. But as an umpire, you don't have the same kind of view."

Things happen in a split second, and through instinct and experience you understand where they are coming from and how not to be there when it happens. The sound, however, that's something else.

"If you can hear [a big hit] on TV, you can imagine how much force it is when the hit is two feet away."

Surviving in the CFL trenches, where everything is happening so much faster than you are used to, is as much about preparation as it is perspiration.

"You get a sense of what teams will do in certain situations, based on what position they have [on the field], what play they've just finished, is it going to be a pass, is it going to be a run," Paradowski says.

"You watch the line, try and read the line and the tackles, what stance they're in, what they've done in the past, and sort of anticipate what play it might be."

He also picked up a CFL-level understanding of when to move forward on pass blocking to cover the line, or such things as being aware of guys doing crossing routes.

"Peripheral vision in that case is really helpful."

Leading to the story of the streaker.

"We were in B.C. and we had a streaker on the field, with no clothes," Paradowski said. "I remember watching the guys in the past, if a guy would go near a player they'd get more than they bargained for."

Not this time.

"I asked one of the players and he said 'I'm not going near the guy.'"

So security got him.

Paradowski will heal up and then do some Canadian university games this fall, with the goal of maybe working in the Vanier Cup national championship at Toronto.

Whatever happens, the memories of this CFL rookie will always be sharp.

"It was wonderful. It was amazing. It was great," he says. "Just the level of athleticism of the players, and the professionalism of the officials and the coaches, there's nothing to compare it to."

Look for No. 45, the guy in the white hat, at a CFL game near you next summer.

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