November 12, 2010
Plenty of CFL players have second jobs that keep them busy during the offseason or after they retire, but Markeith Knowlton (pictured above bringing down Montreal's Brian Bratton Oct. 22) has chosen one of the more unconventional alternate career paths out there. Rather than focusing on something that would seem like a natural transition and a chance to use his football talents, Knowlton wants to be a barber. He even incorporates it into his CFL life, going from battling teammates in practice to cutting their hair afterwards:
Once a week, the Ticat linebacker can be found in one of the team's meeting rooms at Ivor Wynne Stadium, a pair of clippers in his hand and a lineup by the door. While his teammates carry on in that loud, outsized way that a gaggle of players often do - "it's almost like a talk show," Knowlton says - the man at the centre of the action generally says very little.
Just like always.
In addition to his unusual alternate career, that soft-spokenness makes Knowlton a bit of a standout on the field. He plays linebacker, a position that's been known for legendary trash-talkers with mean streaks like Mike Singletary, Jack Lambert and Lawrence Taylor in the NFL, or Dan Kepley and Willie Pless in the CFL. Knowlton tends to let his play speak for itself, though, and that's certainly enough. As the following highlights from his 2009 campaign show, he demonstrates incredible versatility at the strong-side linebacker spot, and can do everything from dropping into pass coverage and picking off quarterbacks to stopping the run to blitzing and bringing down the pivot:
Knowlton has had a tremendous season, recording 71 tackles, three interceptions, three sacks, two blocked punts and a league-high six fumble recoveries. It's no surprise that he was one of the four Tiger-Cats named to the East Division all-star team earlier this week. At 27, he was also one of the younger players selected to the all-star roster, which is significant in a league where experience often plays a huge role. He didn't have the easiest time cracking the league at first, only seeing limited playing time in B.C., but he's flourished since joining the Tiger-Cats in 2008 and has been one of the league's best and most consistent linebackers over the past few seasons.
Knowlton received even more recognition yesterday when he was announced as the East Division's nominee for outstanding defensive player. He'll be up against Calgary's Juwan Simpson, who also had a solid year. Probably more important to him this week is Hamilton's looming playoff clash with Toronto (Sunday, 1 p.m. Eastern, TSN), though. The Tiger-Cats have won all three of their meetings with the Argonauts this season, and took the last one by the lopsided score of 30-3, so you'd think they wouldn't have too much to worry about. Anything can happen in the CFL this year, though, so the Tiger-Cats might yet need their barber to rescue them from a close shave.