Winnipeg Blue Bombers

T. J. Rubley - Quarterback - 1998 - Tulsa


Craig Devrieze - QUAD-City Times 1998-11-22

T.J. Rubley never has played in a Super Bowl, but Rubley has been to Spain. There, the hoopla surrounding the championship game of the World League of American Football two summers ago was far from super, said Rubley, whose Rhein Fire came up short in Barcelona."The World League championship was a show put on for TV in the United States," recalled the former Davenport West star Rubley, who said the Spaniards barely were aware that a football game was even in town. "This",Rubley said last week, "is just the opposite."


This is today's Grey Cup, the annual Canadian Football League championship that will match Rubley's Eastern Division champion Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs. the Western Division champion Calgary Stampeders at 2 p.m. in Winnipeg, Ontario.There will be no U.S. television, but ample hoopla does surround the CFL championship game.


No fewer than 13 official parties preceded today's game, and 500 volunteers were assigned over the last week just to shuttle players

here and there.If the hype is not quite the equivalent of what accompanies the annual Super Bowl hysteria here in the States, Rubley can think of another close comparison."It reminds me of a college bowl game," Rubley said. "A big one."It's not the sheer mass of people (that comes with a Super Bowl), but it is a good time. It's a long, long week, and there's not a whole lot of sleep." Rubley figures to be just a bit player in today's big game. He is listed as the Tiger-Cats' No. 3 quarterback, behind former Florida State star and CFL vet Danny McManus, the starter, and young New Mexico State product Cory Ledbetter, the backup.So far, Rubley has seen action in only one Tiger-Cat contest and did not play a down in last week's division final vs. Montreal. Still, Rubley, a veteran of five NFL seasons, considers himself lucky to be in Winnipeg today. His initial CFL season could have ended there three weeks ago, had the hometown, last-place Winnipeg Blue Bombers not released him 10 weeks into the season and if the division-leading Tiger-Cats had not scooped him up. "I'm thankful for this opportunity," he said. "When I got released, I didn't know what was going to happen."A lot of things could have happened -- his agent lobbied Rubley to defer on the Hamilton offer and take a chance of catching on with a QB-needy NFL team here at home -- but Rubley believes his time-biding stint in Hamilton might bode best for his quarterbacking future. "Saying no to these guys in Hamilton would be like saying no to the 49ers," he said.

Winnipeg was a brutal introduction to the CFL. There, Rubley played under three different offensive coordinators and went through a revolving series of 12 different receivers. Rubley threw for 1,500 yards in 10 Blue Bomber games, but just four of his 141 completions went for touchdowns and 12 of his 240 attempts were intercepted. In the end, Rubley became a scapegoat for the Blue Bombers' last-place season, and when his coach was fired in October, his release soon followed. (Rubley wasn't alone. Winnipeg employed seven quarterbacks this year.) At Hamilton, Rubley did not figure to supplant the entrenched McManus as the starter, but had the former Seminole suffered an injury down the stretch, Rubley believes he, not Ledbetter, would have been called upon to lead the team.

Barring a pre-emptive NFL offer, he said he might return next year to Hamilton. He would use the additional year as a backup to get a firm grounding in a game played on a larger field at a more wide-open pace and against smaller defenders who are far quicker across the board than the typical NFL lineup." One thing I didn't get out of Winnipeg was an understanding of how to beat a CFL defense," said Rubley, who said Blue Bomber gameplans were thin and that game preparation was the equivalent of about a day's worth of an NFL game week. With better coaching and a full grounding in CFL offensive fundamentals, Rubley believes he can succeed as a starter in Canada. And, if finances allow, that is all he wants from his football career these days. He turned a deaf ear last summer to NFL discussions about possible training camp opportunities -- from the Bears among others -- and if things proceed as planned, he will have no illusions about following Buffalo hero Doug Flutie from a strong CFL stint back into a role as an NFL backup.

"I have a starter's mentality," Rubley said. Meanwhile in Canada, Canucks are as agog over Flutie's NFL success this season as they are today's Grey Cup."They're very proud of Doug up here," Rubley said. "Anytime a quarterback from here goes and does well in the mighty, mighty NFL, they enjoy it. And Doug was a very, very good quarterback up here."Good enough to have been the CFL's Most Outstanding Player an unprecedented six times and to have quarterbacked the Toronto Argonauts to three Grey Cup victories, including last year's. Today, Rubley would enjoy nothing more than to keep the Cup in the Flutie family. Doug's brother Darren is the Tiger-Cats' leading receiver.



-- statistics --



T.J. Rubley         Tulsa  
Yr Team Att Cmp Yds Pct. TD Int Lg
1998 Wpg 257 148 1,504 57.6 4 12 49
  Ham 17 7 71 41.2 0 0 22
Total 1 274 155 1575 56.6 4 12 49


Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1998 Wpg 26 76 2.9 13 0
  Ham 2 12 6.0 8 0
Total 1 28 88 3.1 13 0


-- NFL --



Yr Team Att Cmp Yds Pct. TD Int Lg
1993 LAR 189 108 1,338 57.1 8 6 54
1995 GB 6 4 39 66.7 0 1 17
Total 2 195 112 1377 57.4 8 7 54


Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1993 LAR 29 102 3.5 13 0
1995 GB 2 6 3.0 6 0
Total 2 31 108 3.5 13 0