Former Calgary Stampeders, Randy Chevrier and Will Johnson, relate their personal and professional stories of adversity and discipline at the AGF Chalk Talk before the 2017 Western Final in Calgary at Aloft Calgary University.
No matter what one chooses as an occupation, success takes commitment.
“Without motivation discipline is defeated,” says Will Johnson.
“To be able keep playing in a sport where the average career lasts, if you’re lucky, three years, it takes reinventing yourself often,” says Randy Chevrier.
Chevrier played in five Grey Cup games, Johnson played in four.
The men have found an appreciation for adversity and the many times they were forced to ask:
“How can you seize an opportunity?”
AGF, who has been a sponsor of the CFL playoffs for the past three years, underwent its own rebranding recently, which included retraining employees to meet its “new standards of discipline for excellence.”
“That’s kind of what happens in football,” relates Chevrier.
Chevrier says that he started as defensive tackle coming out of college, then went to long snapping, and eventually played full back.
“Whatever it takes just to be on the team.”
Chevrier looks back at the moments that others would perceive as being the worst and he is able see those difficult times as the best because they taught him many great lessons, and helped him refocus.
“That night I was stabbed,” recalls Chevrier.
He also found success in helping his teammates. Rather than looking at other players, who were competing for his position, as opposition, Chevrier says he stayed focus on his own performance.
Forced out of his comfort-zone again at the age of 41, Chevrier is now working on his post-football career with the Calgary Fire Department.
Will Johnson has been with the Calgary Police Service (CPS) for 18 years after retiring from football. Both men coach and teach youth skills, on and off the field.
Johnson works with the CPS in Calgary elementary and junior high schools teaching inclusion, resiliency, how to tell the difference between teasing and bullying, to be kind, caring, compassionate, and respectful.
“And that goes a long way,” says Johnson.
“When you’re getting that from K through six, by the time you get into junior high you will able to deal with your own problems rather than relying on your teachers or your parents.”
Johnson recalled a 1990 football game against Toronto where the Stampeders got beat 70 to 18.
“That started us on a different track, that was our adversity. We got beat so bad it was so embarrassing. We were a good team.
“Without motivation discipline is defeated.”
Bad things do happen, but it’s how you get out of that hole. We went on to win a Grey Cup,” says Johnson.
In fact, from then on, the Calgary Stampeders have maintained a status of a- team-to-beat within the CFL. The Stampeders began to win, which meant the players won, the fans won, and the city also won.
Johnson was drafted in 1987 by the Chicago Bears and came to Calgary hoping for a break from the NFL.
“Calgary was that break for me.”
Johnson held the Stampeders record of 99 sacks for 22 years; just this year it was tied by Charleston Hughes.
“I will graciously give him my record,” says the six-time all-star.
Discipline and upbringing kept both men on the “straight and narrow.”
Johnson’s father was a marshal, so he was aware and afraid of what could happen.
Chevrier, who also calls Calgary home, says his mom taught him that when one wants to do something, it should be done to the best of his or her ability.
“Even if you are going to be a bum, you are going to be the best bum you can be,” Chevrier recalls his dad’s words.
“If I can teach my kid the one skill that will put them ninety percent above of all their hiring class is to go into a room, look them in the eye and shake their hands.”