Wednesday, May 25, 2011

59-year-old tries out for CFL team?in t-shirt and jeans

The CFL has long been a place where experienced players can flourish, and that has even included guys who have starred long after they turned 40 (Bob Cameron and Lui Passaglia are just a few of the notable examples). Perhaps that's what motivated a 59-year-old Florida man to try out for the Saskatchewan Roughriders Sunday at a Daytona Beach free-agent camp. From The Daytona Beach News-Journal's Sean Kernan, here are some of the details of Charles Chulada's attempt to crack the CFL:

While the other 20-something and a few 30-something players had their Under Armour, Nike and Adidas gear on, Chulada worked out in blue jeans, a 16-year-old T-shirt and some cleats he had from playing for a semipro team several years ago.

"I knew I could do it," Chulada said after running a couple of 40-yard dashes. "I want to put on a helmet and run through a brick wall to show them I can do it."

Fortunately, there were no helmets around to tempt Chulada, who from 1969 through 1973 played college football and wrestled for Syracuse University.

The self-described brick mason and poet rode his bike -- and we're not talking a Harley here -- from his home in Ormond-by-the-Sea to Municipal Stadium to participate in the free one-day camp conducted by the Canadian Football League team.

There's so much in those few paragraphs. Blue jeans aren't exactly a typical workout uniform (although denim is popular with football players in Florida!), but they certainly go nicely with a 16-year-old T-shirt (with notable holes, as seen in the photo). Also, a 59-year-old "self-described brick mason and poet" trying to become a professional football player seems like the most logical career transition since the accountant who wanted to get into lion taming. Chulada (who apparently was booked in February for trespassing did play three years of football at Syracuse and wrestled there as well, but that was from 1970 to 1972, so his football experience isn't the most recent. Still, age provides plenty of benefits in the CFL, and Chulada has age in spades.

All kidding aside, this obviously wasn't going to lead to a contract for Chulada (pictured above right; you can see more photos of his time at training camp here). It might yet lead to a poem from him, but he faces stiff obstacles in that area too, as George Plimpton and Stefan Fatsis have already covered the "outsider at training camp" angle pretty thoroughly. Still, it was nice of the Roughriders and head coach
Greg Marshall to let Chulada participate in a few drills before the first round of cuts (interestingly enough, the Roughriders' tryout appeared to follow the same general format as the Tiger-Cats' camp discussed here yesterday, with the first round of cuts based on measurables and later rounds involving position-specific drills and one-on-one battles "When you have an all-comers tryout you're going to get all types," Marshall told Kernan. "Let the guy come out and have some fun. I give him his due for sticking it out in the heat."

Let's hope Chulada's notoriety doesn't lead to a legion of copycats, though. A 59-year-old crashing a CFL training camp is pretty funny, but it's worth keeping in mind that these camps are serious business and a crucial part of the league's offseason. Besides, it's not like bizarre news in Florida is exactly unusual. Teams can obviously turn away ridiculous candidates right at the start if they want, even a legion of Chuladas wouldn't seriously impact their ability to do business, but a funny story can turn into a boring one awfully quickly if people keep trying to repeat it. Chulada isn't going to be appearing on a CFL field near you any time soon, but at the moment, he might just hold the distinction of the oldest player to ever try out for a CFL team. In the future, though, he should probably stick to poetry and laying brick walls rather than trying to run through them.

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