Doug Brown: Musings of a Retired Football Star!
Editor: In 2012, Doug Brown retired from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after a star studded career of eleven years. As host of a fundraising trip for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg, Doug recently took part in his first fly-in fishing trip ever to Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge. While he was at the lodge, he took some precious time off his fish, eat, fish, eat, fish, Big Molly’s schedule to share some of his thoughts on life after retirement with Gerry.
Gerry: You are here as part of a fundraising event for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg. Tell our readers about your involvement with that charitable organization and why it’s important to you.
Doug: This is part of my inaugural involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters. A former teammate who was engaged with them, introduced me to this organization. I will be hosting a gala event this fall called Barley Infused Gala Dinner. They do great work in the community. As a professional athlete on a community owned team for eleven years, I have found a rewarding and satisfying feeling by paying back the community by lending some of my other skills to some great organizations.
Gerry: Which other groups are you involved with?
Doug: I’m really involved with Kidsport Manitoba where we run a football camp for disadvantaged youth. I also am the champion spokesperson and guest rider for Motorcycle Ride for Dad for Prostate Cancer. I do a lot of work with Project Echo which is one of my favorites because all benefits remain in the community. I like to work with the Variety Kids because it benefits children with hardships in their lives. I have also done work and volunteer work with the Humane Society. It’s funny…..football has given me a lot of opportunity in the community. When you see the impact you can have on people by just participating in their cause, it is very, very rewarding.
Editor: Doug has been preoccupied with football seven days a week from May to December every year since he was a senior in high school. He played college football for Simon Fraser University in British Columbia for 4 years before his rookie season in the NFL with Buffalo Bills in 1997. He then spent 3 years with the Washington Redskins and then reigned in the CFL for eleven outstanding years with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. So the term fishing fanatic footballer is somewhat of an oxymoron. Let’s check out the fishing!
Gerry: You are here on a fly-in fishing trip to one of the great walleye fisheries of the planet. Tell us about your experience in fishing and your expectations in coming to this lodge.
Doug: This is my first fly-in fishing adventure and I’m loving it! In my profession, fishing was more of a reactive situation, where people would invite me to events, to their cottage or to their lake. This fly-in situation certainly puts the end result on another level. It really is another level of excitement and an adventure in nature starting with the float plane ride over the (Boreal) forest and seeing the lake from the sky. Then you are isolated in a great wilderness setting. It cuts you off from daily life and brings your focus down to enjoying your time here and relaxing. As I said, this is my first fly-in and you guys just take it to another level. There is a lot to learn about fishing and it really is a competitive thing! I really enjoyed my time with my guide and really learned a lot. I’m afraid I will be spoiled when it comes to the high end fishing. It’s not just the fishing because the non fishing part of this trip is exceptional and parallels the hospitality you receive at the lodge by a very special and professional staff. Fishing can really be addictive and the kind of service I’ve received here is beyond my wildest expectations.
Gerry: Now that you have, in your own words, experienced the ultimate fishing adventure, do you think the future has more fishing in store for you?
Doug: As I said, this is a very competitive sport. In three days as a novice, I landed more walleyes than I could imagine. When you see the huge Master Angler fish and all the Century Club awards given out every night at the dinner table, it almost rivals my own professional career at times, coming so close to winning the big award! I certainly leaves one wanting to do it again!
Editor: Doug has been writing a weekly column in the Winnipeg Free Press for several years and hosting a weekly radio show on CJOB 680 AM in Winnipeg for six years. Everyone who followed his “Hall of Fame” career in the CFL knows that Doug’s retirement from the game would quickly transition into being involved with the game through media. He did not disappoint. While expanding his writing skills to 2 columns per week in the Free Press and his on air radio skills by adding game day and game analyst duties for CJOB’s broadcasts of Bomber games. He has also been developing a whole new set of skills as the newest analyst on the hallowed CFL on TSN Panel.
Gerry: Tell us about your experience in transitioning to a full time media career.
Doug: It has really been a salvation for me. When I asked Bomber great Joe Paplowski about his retirement, he said walking away from the game was his most difficult decision ever. It is a salvation because it keeps me very involved in the day to day aspects of the Blue Bombers and the CFL. Everything I am doing keeps me connected with the team, the players and the coaches. During my whole life, football has been at the epicentre. And now I can stay involved with what I know best. Doing color with the legendary Bob Irving for the Bombers is daunting and exciting all at the same time. He raises the bar in sports broadcasting and makes it a new challenge for me. It has been therapeutic, staying involved while learning new skills.
Gerry: You are a rookie for the first time in 15 years! As you embark on your television career, tell us about you and TSN.
Doug: I’ve never had to put on makeup to do my work and with television, that’s a big change. The visual is something I’ve never had to deal with before. TV is as much about how you look and how you say things as much as what you are saying. You have to be very aware of cameras and angles and positioning and timing and transitioning. The most difficult thing I ever had to do was to focus on my appearance while giving a detailed analysis while a director was giving orders in my ear piece. It was almost as challenging as the realm of profession football itself!
Editor: Doug fancies himself as a bit of a wordsmith. At the crossroads of choosing between synonyms, he will always choose the least used and hardest to remember. So before segueing back to Big Molly’s……a Howard Cossell type word game….
Gerry: Keeping in mind your inborn need and penchant to infuse and inject seldom used words into everyday parlance, we want you to describe your “Aikens Lake Experience” in one word.
Doug: Wow! Aikens in one word …….MAJESTIC is the one word I would use to describe the comprehensive, holistic experience at Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge. I’m trying to think of other not so often used words and descriptors for this place and SURREAL is the best. Unlike anything you have encountered in the wilderness…….MAJESTIC and SURREAL………okay, two words then!
Gerry: Thanks for doing this Doug. Your comments will be greatly appreciated by all of our readers!