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A high flyer on the gridiron, new Argonaut Campbell has a fear of flying in the sky

The roll call of sporting luminaries who made Aliquippa, Pa., their home reads like a who’s who from Iron Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, Sean Gilbert, Ty Law, Pistol Pete Maravich, Darrelle Davis.

Frank Gnup, who played for the Hamilton Wildcats and later the Toronto Argonauts, would go to coach at UBC before he was enshrined in the university’s hall of fame.

Henry Mancini of the Pink Panther fame was raised in Aliquippa.

Add Tommie Campbell to the list, an elite cover corner whom the Argos signed in free agency.

While it wasn’t the deciding factor, Campbell does admit how proximity played a factor.

“I’m afraid of flying,’’ said the all-star. “It’s only a five-hour drive. I’m close to home and I won’t have to fly to Toronto.”

When CFL free agency kicked off last month, the Argos were the first team to contact Campbell.

“I’m at the point in my career where I don’t want to go out west,’’ admitted Campbell. “No. 1, I’m afraid of flying. I hate flying and not many people know that.

“It was either go out west, or stay close to my home town.”

His fear of flying began during an experience on a flight from Florida to Pennsylvania.

“I don’t even like flying anymore,’’ added Campbell. “I only fly for football.”

There’s no Madden Mobile for Campbell to take advantage of, but he makes due knowing the friendly skies haven’t exactly been co-operative.

“I try to go a sleep,’’ said Campbell about possible remedies he’s used to overcome his fear of flying. “It takes me a minute to get my nerves settled. The funny thing is that coming home after night games is more relaxing for me. I guess flying at night doesn’t bother me as much.”

Campbell attended Edinboro University.

His teammate for one season was Trevor Harris, who broke into the CFL with the Argos.

Campbell lined up at corner, would be used in the return game on special teams and run routes as a receiver.

Campbell recalls one play.

“I beat the guy on the line of scrimmage and I was 10 yards behind him. Trevor threw this beautiful ball to me and I dropped it,’’ said Campbell. “I’ll never forget that.”

Long, lean, athletic with ball skills, Campbell is the type of player who can line up anywhere on either side of the ball.

Campbell began to play football at age five.

He was so athletic that sports such as baseball and basketball would be played.

Campbell also ran track.

“But football was my main thing. I’d say track was second,’’ said Campbell.

Coming out of high school, Campbell committed to the University of Pittsburgh as a receiver.

Head coach Dave Wannstedt became Pittsburgh’s head coach and Campbell was asked to switch to the safety spot and then linebacker.

“I started at outside linebacker,’’ added Campbell. “I didn’t play corner until my senior year at college.”

It was John Murphy who discovered Campbell, then in the NFL, and convinced Calgary to sign him.

Murphy, the Argos’ vice president player personnel, has completely overhauled the roster by adding quality depth and talent, which includes Campbell.

“John was really the one who believed in my abilities. He knew I could play in the CFL,’’ said Campbell.

Campbell has been used primarily as the boundary corner during his time with the Stamps and last year
in Montreal.

“People don’t know, but, honestly, I can play anywhere,’’ said Campbell. “I can adjust to anything pretty quickly.”

Campbell, 32, knows just about every offence in the CFL, every offensive player and has seen virtually everything there is to see in three-down football.

“I’m having fun,’’ said Campbell when asked to describe where he finds himself in his career trajectory. “I’m playing without thinking much because I’ve seen every route possible, I’ve seen every type of receiver possible, I’ve seen so much football.

“I’m just real comfortable. I play without hesitation, I try not to do too much. I just be myself and I’m not afraid to make a mistake.”

STAMP OF APPROVAL

As someone who lines up on the defensive side of the ball, there weren’t many occasions when shut-down corner Tommie Campbell would talk with Ryan Dinwiddie, the former quarterback whose specialty is on offence.

But their time in Calgary did allow Campbell to meet Dinwiddie, who will oversee the Argos as their new head coach.

“He was a quiet guy,’’ said Campbell. “When we saw each other we would speak. I respect him.”

Source: winnipegsun.com




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