Andres Salgado eager to prove he belongs with Calgary Stampeders
You can sort of imagine what was went through Andres Salgado’s head after he was chosen by the Calgary Stampeders in the inaugural CFL Mexican Draft in January.
The excitement came first as it dawned on the Mexico City native that he was going to have an opportunity to take the next step in his football career and compete for a CFL job.
Then, he checked the weather.
“When I got drafted in January by Calgary, the temperature was around -27 celsius and I was like ‘what the hell is that?’ “ Salgado said Thursday after his first day at Stampeders rookie camp. “But it’s not that bad.
“I thought it was going to be a lot worse.”
To be clear, the frigid winter temperatures in Alberta did nothing to temper Salgado’s excitement about the opportunity to test himself out against CFL competition.
Football is a sport Salgado has been playing for a decade, after all, and he’s emerged as a star in the LFA, Mexico’s top professional league.
Only a week ago, he caught a 44-yard touchdown that helped propel his team, the Mexico City Condors, to win the Tazon Mexico IV (Mexico Bowl IV) over the Naucalpan Raptors.
After a quick turnaround, Salgado was up in Calgary and competing at the first practice of rookie camp, where he estimated he ran around 11 plays.
“It’s the top level I’ve competed against,” Salgado admitted. “Division-1 guys, (Canadian) guys that play here. The football’s a little different. I needed to adjust to that.”
Salgado is one of three Mexican players who were drafted by the Stampeders in January as part of commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s CFL 2.0 initiative, which is aiming to open up opportunities for both the league and players in foreign markets.
He’s joined by kicker Oscar Hugo Silva and offensive lineman Guillermo Calderon. Salgado is fully aware that there is going to be a lot of attention paid to whether or not they can compete with the Canadian and Americans at training camp.
There have been lots of doubts about Ambrosie’s plan, and the specifics of how they’ll be incorporated into teams’ rosters aren’t entirely clear.
Salgado doesn’t seem to be worrying himself about any of that, though, and is instead focused strictly on competing.
“In Mexico, we welcome it,” Salgado said. “It’s a great opportunity for guys to come and try to have a professional football career. The CFL is the second biggest league in the world, right below the NFL, but it’s the oldest.
“It’s a great opportunity and we, as the first Mexicans here, we need to make the most out of it and have a good impression here and hopefully open the door for others.”
Last season, Emanuel Davis played at an all-star level for the Stampeders, so it was surprising to some that he wasn’t back this year.
Davis has not retired and remains a free-agent, so it’s entirely possible that he’ll resurface somewhere soon.
For the Stamps, though, the decision not to re-sign Davis was nothing personal.
As head coach Dave Dickenson explained, it largely just came down to the salary cap.
“We still know about him,” Dickenson said. “We knew where the cap was going to be, we felt we had to get a bit younger. I’m not sure his story, I know he’s still out there.
“There’s a lot of good football players still out there. Not knowing the numbers and hearing what I heard, it’s going to be interested to see what money’s left. That’s always a challenge for veterans. You want to be paid like a vet, but you want a job.”
Because it was rookie camp, there weren’t a lot of players around Thursday who were able to comment on the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement that have been tentatively reached between the CFL and CFLPA.
Dickenson, however, was pleased that an agreement is close and it looks like there won’t be any significant labour stoppage.
“Listen, it was good news,” Dickenson said. “I believe the players (still) have to ratify, I’m not sure exactly when. Their side will come in and explain the deal.
“One thing I was to do is give kudos to the player reps on my team, Rob Maver and Jamar Wall. It’s not a fun job, it’s not an easy job and I know they’ve still got a lot of work ahead of them but I do believe they’re into it for the right reasons.”
While they didn’t participate in Thursday’s on-field session, there were a lot of Stampeders veterans in and around the field at McMahon Stadium. QB Bo Levi Mitchell was there, as were corner Tre Roberson, fullback William Langlais and receiver Reggie Begelton … Anyone arguing the CFL season should be moved forward a couple weeks to avoid late-November Grey Cup games should probably spend a practice or two at training camp when it’s cold and wet like it was on Thursday.