Free-agent receiver Kamar Jorden feels he still has plenty of good football left
Kamar Jorden is playing a waiting game.
Entering his ninth CFL season, the six-foot-three, 205-pound receiver feels he still has some productive years remaining. However, just over two weeks after hitting the open market, the 33-year-old remains unsigned.
"Yeah, I'm surprised but at the same time I'm a realist," Jorden said in a telephone interview. "I know I didn't have a great (2022) season, I know I'm getting a little older.
"But I think my resume shows if any team signs me, I can still compete and be an effective player on that team and in the locker room. It's frustrating, I'm not going to lie, but I'm trying to look at it as glass half full and take advantage of the situation that I do have."
And this week, that means participating in the CFL mentorship program, a joint venture between the league and CFL Players' Association that provides participants insights into the business of pro football. Jorden is among six CFL players taking part.
"It is humbling me and keeping me grounded to know regardless of whether I play this year or not, I still have to work on this transition out of football," Jorden said. "Even if I play this year or for the next two years, there's going to come a real point where football will be done and I'm going to need to make some decisions about what I want to do afterwards."
Jorden has spent his entire CFL career with the Calgary Stampeders, first joining the club in 2014. The native of Darby, Pa., has appeared in 55 career regular-season games, registering 248 catches for 3,454 yards and 19 touchdowns.
On Aug. 25, 2018, Jorden had 11 catches for a club-record 249 yards and a TD in a 39-26 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He was the CFL's second-leading receiver that year with 944 yards before sustaining a season-ending torn ACL.
Jorden didn't play the entire 2019 regular season but returned for Calgary's 35-14 division semifinal loss to Winnipeg, registering two catches for 15 yards.
When the CFL resumed play in 2021 -- it didn't stage a 2020 campaign due to the global pandemic -- Jorden was the league leader in catches (37) and receiving yards (471) through six games.
But he sustained a hamstring injury in a 23-17 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sept. 17 that landed him on the injured list for four weeks. Last season, Jorden had 43 catches for 433 yards in 12 regular-season games with Calgary.
"Things didn't go the way I wanted last year and I definitely don't want to end my career with that taste in my mouth," Jorden said. "I'm super motivated to play this year, I feel I have a lot to prove to myself.
"I feel like I can still play at a high level. I'm healthy, I'm 100 per cent ready to go. I'm still training, still keeping my body right."
Jorden jumped at the opportunity to participate in the mentorship program.
"I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do after playing," Jorden said. "An opportunity to work in the CFL was something I didn't even think was a possibility until I heard about this program.
"When it came up, I jumped right in. I've been in this league for nine years, I love the league, I love what it represents, I love the game. It's such a blessing to get this opportunity to talk with people and learn more about the league."
Many players, upon retirement, turn to coaching as a way to remain involved in football. For some in this program, it's an opportunity to learn about football operations and get involved with either a team's front office or at the league level when their playing days end.
Jorden, though, is more interested in marketing/fan engagement and doing what he can to grow Canadian football, in and outside the country.
"I'm interested in finding ways to include more Canadians and Americans," Jorden said. "I want to find different and more creative ways to get new fans in, to entertain current fans and continue to get more eyes on the game and show people just much fun and great the CFL game is."
Jorden would be open to a post-football career either with a team or the CFL itself.
"Honestly, whatever opportunities present themselves and whatever makes sense," he said. "Working with the league or teams would present different challenges and different opportunities.
"At the end of the day, it's one general goal to try and grow the CFL game within and outside of Canada."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2023.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press