Bob Marley's son Rohan reflects on CFL time in Ottawa
Former Ottawa Rough Rider in town for coffee deal with TD Place, will catch Redblacks game
It's been 20 years since Rohan Marley last stepped onto the field at TD Place as a rookie CFL linebacker, and he was shocked to see the changes when he returned to the facility he knew as the Frank Clair Stadium.
"I was like, wow, wow! What a beautiful field," he said Thursday. "The stadium really looks good. It looks tremendously different from when I played."
Marley is in town for meetings with partners as part of his company Marley Coffee's two-year agreement with Ottawa Sports & Entertainment Group to be the official coffee provider in the stadium and arena at TD Place.
The son of music legend Bob Marley will be catching the action from the sidelines when the new CFL team the Ottawa Redblacks take on the Calgary Stampeders tonight, but memories from his own games are still fresh in his mind.
"I had a really good time, made a lot of nice plays, very memorable plays for me," Marley said.
'I came here as a nobody'
But it's not just the time spent on the field Marley remembers fondly.
"Playing here in Ottawa, I had the most fun," Marley said. "You know why? I came here as a nobody, I was no one. I just love Ottawa because I was able to develop a lot of things, my own character as a man."
As a self-proclaimed "nobody," Marley lived at the Best Western hotel and rode his bicycle to practices and games, he said.
"After the games I'd ride my bicycle really fast home because I wanted to beat the cars," he laughed. "The fun I had was being an independent man, and becoming a young man."
Marley also learned some life lessons he hadn't picked up during his time playing college football at the University of Miami or while on the road touring with his musician brothers.
The fun I had was being an independent man, and becoming a young man.- Rohan Marley
"Here I am, I didn't really know how to cook," he said. "I didn't know where to find food, I didn't have a car."
Marley's solution? "A lot of walking around the [Byward] Market by myself to try and find food," he said.
The rookie linebacker, who was born in Jamaica and grew up in Miami, also put down roots with Ottawa's Jamaican community.
"I made a lot of good, good friends in the Jamaican community," he said.
"I met some guys who taught me a lot about life. One elder Rasta man taught me the perfect way to kick the soccer ball."
Marley's foray into the coffee business might seem like a departure from his background in sports, but he doesn't see it that way.
"I think that my business should be a reflection of who I am," he said of why Marley Coffee — a multi-million-dollar U.S.-based business selling products internationally, including in Canada — partnered with OSEG.
"I'm an athlete, I go to the games. It was great synergy."
"Come to the stadium and enjoy a good cup of coffee, man," he added. "Cheer the guys on and support them. And when it gets cold, sip on my coffee."