Saskatchewan·Q&A

Roughriders receiver Naaman Roosevelt quiet off the field, explosive on it

Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Naaman Roosevelt is embracing a leadership role in his own way.

After 3 games, Roosevelt leads the Riders in receiving yards once again

Naaman Roosevelt is all smiles when he's on the football field. The Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver prefers to lead by example with his play. (Peter Mills/CBC)

If there was a Saskatchewan Roughriders version of Mount Rushmore, the first head carved into the rock would be a no-brainer. Naaman Roosevelt has the presidential name and he is the leader of the Riders star-studded receiving core.

But the 29-year-old isn't your typical big-name receiver. He's a quiet guy who doesn't spend the week trash-talking to the media.

For a closer look, Roosevelt talked to CBC Radio's Morning Edition about growing up in Buffalo, N.Y., life in Canada, and fun topics in between.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Born and raised in Buffalo. Went to the University of Buffalo. Played for the [Buffalo] Bills for a little bit.

It's really my first time away from home. So, I'm just excited to be here. All I do is sleep pretty much. Sleep, watch film, and play football — that's it. (He laughs.)

And what was it like the first time you heard about Rider Nation?

It was crazy because Drew [Willy, quarterback at the University of Buffalo] was here for the first time and he was like, 'Man, every game is sold out, every game is crazy.'

And when I first got here it was amazing just to see how crazy. The old stadium it was crazy and now we got this new stadium — it's even crazier. 

What's a memorable moment with a Rider fan that stands out to you?

I went to Arizona this off-season to the event down there and it was crazy. There were thousands of Rider fans down there just excited and just ready to have fun and I was just excited to meet them all down there.

You've even said before that you're a quieter guy, but on the field you sure don't look quiet.

Yeah, off the field I'm quiet. But on the field my mind is just in a whole other place. I'm just focused, just locked in the game and I'm excited.

Every play I'm trying to have fun. They see me laughing on the field, joking around, playing around. I'm yelling, screaming, just having fun. And I just love this game.

Should people be worried that you might go to the NFL again?

Um, no. I shouldn't. I mean, I'm enjoying it. I got another two years here. I'm enjoying playing here.

I'm loving the fans, loving the team, just loving the coaching staff, just loving everything about this so we definitely want to get this thing going and get it rolling and try to get a championship this year.

What did you do on the bye week?

Stayed up here and I drove to Banff. It was exciting to see. I never saw mountains like that. I actually saw a black bear just 20 feet away from us, just hanging out, chilling, didn't bother us or anything.

Saskatchewan Roughriders wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt (82) shakes a tackle during second half CFL football action against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Regina on July 8. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor)

Rapid-fire questions

Have you ever thrown a snowball at someone's head in Buffalo?

Oh yeah, about every winter.

Apparently, it's illegal there.

I didn't know that. In my neighbourhood it's not. (He laughs.) We throw snowballs all the time.

Are Buffalo wings the best?

Definitely the best. Any place in Buffalo you can get great wings and it's amazing there.

What do you have against hot dogs at Burger King? I saw you tweet that.

Burger King selling hot dogs? I just can't do it. I would never eat a hot dog from Burger King. Naw, it just doesn't sound right.

You mentioned you played quarterback (in high school). How do you think you would do if you got called into action in the CFL?

Man, I would probably just run the ball all the time, because throwing on this field is too wide and too long for me to be throwing the ball up here.

You also mentioned you played basketball (in high school). If you could play for any team, who would it be?

Celtics.

Do you collect shoes?

Definitely. A lot of shoes.

How many shoes do you have?

Man, I don't even know. Probably about 100 at home [in Buffalo] and then I'm collecting up here, too. It's a good thing they don't sell out up here like they do back home, so I can go to the store and buy them here easily.

I know you're a music fan. Weezy, Yeezy or Drizzy?

Weezy. That was my man ever since I was growing up. Yeah, gotta go with Lil Wayne.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

The Roughriders (1-2) take on the Calgary Stampeders (2-1-1) at McMahon Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. CST.

About the Author

Peter Mills is an associate producer at CBC Saskatchewan and the host of the Meet The Riders podcast. Follow him on Twitter @TweeterMillsCBC. Do you have a story idea? Email peter.mills@cbc.ca.

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