There are plenty of CFL players who have interesting post-playing careers, from blacksmithing to creating burger franchises to writing, but one of the more notable paths is joining the police force. Lots of CFL players have taken up post-career police work over the years, with nine CFLers who now work as police officers and firefighters appearing with the Grey Cup in 2012, and the RCMP is now set to get another one. That would be Delroy Clarke, who played for the Toronto Argonauts from 2008-2010, the Edmonton Eskimos from 2011 to 2012, and the Ottawa Redblacks last year. Now, Clarke is set to start his first post as an RCMP officer in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. Thus, he's going from one Canadian institution to another.
Clarke took a long and winding path to get here. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica, but moved to Scarborough as a teenager. He initially competed in soccer, rugby and track and field in high school at West Hill Collegiate Institute, and earned a NCAA soccer scholarship, but injury led to him switching sports in his senior year and taking up football. Despite coming late to the game, he impressed enough to earn a place at the University of Ottawa, and he did well enough with the Gee-Gees to get the Argonauts to draft him 29th overall in the fourth round of the 2008 CFL draft. Clarke was a special-teams stalwart with both Toronto and Edmonton, recording 45 special teams tackles and two fumble recoveries in 59 career games from 2008-2012, but the Eskimos still cut him early in 2013. He wound up spending the year out of football before attempting a comeback with Ottawa last year, but told Tim Baines of The Ottawa Sun that he thought he could still play:
“I would like to prove I could have played last year at a high level. If I'm going to do anything, I do it 120%. I want to prove something to myself that I can do it. I always believe if you're given an opportunity, don't waste it.”
Clarke didn't wind up making it out of training camp with Ottawa last year, but that determination and effort to keep trying may serve him well in his career with the RCMP. He's certainly shown his perserverance over the years in the CFL, including recovering from a frightening head-to-head collision in 2011, and that may be beneficial during his police career. As Kelly Wiltshire, another former Eskimo and Argonaut who joined the Ontario Provincial Police after his career, told Yahoo's Don Landry in 2012, there's lots of crossover between football and police work:
Number one, I think it's a team atmosphere," said Kelly Wiltshire, a Grey Cup winner in 1997 with Toronto and then Edmonton in 2005. "A common goal achieved by many who come together. And number two, I think it's still being part of a community. As a player, you're going to be involved and go out and do appearances and you play for the fans. When you're a firefighter or a police officer you're serving that same community that you played for. Those things come together real well.
We'll see how this transition works out for Clarke, but there definitely have been lots of others who have blazed the trail from football to police work over the years. Who knows; if Clarke does well with the Mounties, he might even be chosen for one of the force's big honours, presenting the Grey Cup. He never was able to get his hands on it as a player, but he's chosen one of the few post-football careers that might still give him a chance at that.