Ten Takeaways From The Arbuckle Interview
On Thursday I caught up with new Argos QB Nick Arbuckle in a wide ranging conversation that you can hear in full HERE. Arbuckle wasn’t shy to have some open discussions on the events leading up to or following Sunday’s mayhem leading to a handful of important notes for CFL fans.
The Quote: “When I got released on Sunday we gave our landlord a notice and we just moved in a week before Christmas so we’re still half moved in, in the process of unpacking and we have furniture that hasn’t been delivered that we’re trying to figure out what to do with now. We’re trying to get out to Toronto in the next two months.”
The Takeaway: Can you imagine? Moving to the Ottawa area, ingratiating yourself in the community only to pick up those roots and take your young family down the road to an entirely different arrangement? Nick also told me before we began the conversation he had to locate a new trainer and workout routine as he wasn’t able to workout with the Redblacks staff anymore. As if things couldn’t get more complicated and backwards for the next few months.
The Quote: "Marcel Desjardins wanted to postpone contract restructuring talks until after the Holidays. After a couple of back & forths in early January, Marcel wanted to stop again. Early January when we had halted negotiations for weeks, Cody, Vernon, and Trevor had restructured. The restructuring I had offered was more than twice as much as those three guys had taken. They had taken 9-10% reductions and I had proposed taking a 21% reduction on my contract. Me and my agent felt it was more than fair to get something done. Even that was turned down."
The Takeaway: This was the most shocking part of our conversation. If Arbuckle is being honest - and I have no reason whatsoever to believe he isn’t - then the construct we were fed surrounding Ottawa’s attempts to get him under contract for weeks was all a smoke and mirrors act.
The Quote: "I don't know if there was a number I could have signed for in early January (w/ Redblacks) that would have even been acceptable. I don’t know if they were trying to wait to try to see how the Nichols situation unfolded, it sucks to even think about that.”
The Takeaway: I joked that Nick should have offered the Redblacks a two-year deal for $20 and if they said no he’d REALLY know something was up, but this really does seem like a ridiculous way to treat a quarterback you traded for and prioritized just one year ago.
Unexpected Moving Help
The Quote: “Coach LaPolice and Marcel knew my situation and how committed I was to the city of Ottawa. LaPolice had offered to help me move two weeks before contract talks were to begin”
The Takeaway: Whether LaPolice knew the Redblacks strategy or not isn’t important here. The fact is Paul is a good man who should succeed with any quarterback in Ottawa based on his ability to connect with players on a personal level, not to mention his football acumen.
Long Term Plans
The Quote: "Back in October or September., I had texted my agent a layout plan of restructuring a contract that would have been like a five year deal, trying to commit myself long term. The thought going into negotiations was lets restructure this 2021 season & once we settle on a number, we'll talk about what we're going to do for that second year. I was definitely open to signing a two-year contract."
The Takeaway: Well, that clears things up fairly easily. Arbuckle obviously had visions of a long term stay in Ottawa and it hasn’t sunk in yet how drastically different his professional path has been redirected in the last week. One aspect of this I did find interesting was how often young quarterbacks getting their first chance to start believe it could be a Brady or Manning situation. A long stay with one team and maybe play for one other, as we know the CFL is anything but a long-term home for most QBs. Just ask Kevin Glenn.
No Hard Feelings?
The Quote: “Definitely some personal sore points, it would be impossible not to have them. We’ve been here for a while now and we had our baby here, we started our family here and we saw ourselves here for the long-term of my CFL career. That was all ripped out from underneath us pretty suddenly so it hasn’t even really set in yet. That’s why it’s been difficult to come to terms with.”
The Takeaway: Football is a business first and foremost, but it affects real people in deeply personal ways. Nick isn’t the type to hold grudges it seems though as he was quick to mention his appreciation of Ottawa fans during his year in the nation’s capital.
The Quote: “Right now I’m just trying to figure out what to do with this wardrobe. Over the past year I have more Redblacks gear than I can even imagine. I can’t even dress for the winter without putting something Redblacks. I have to re-do my entire wardrobe.”
The Takeaway: While there are worse problems to have, it is funny to imagine Nick Arbuckle opening his closet Monday morning to a variety of plaid and ‘R’ wood cookie logos. Side note, he did the interview in a Georgia State quarter zip.
The Quote: “It was his team and locker room, he was the leader but that doesn’t mean I can’t show up, have confidence in my game and show how I prepare and play at a high level. You can be a leader without having to say this is my show and take over the city.”
The Takeaway: I asked Nick about the challenge of balancing self-confidence, a required aspect of being a starting quarterback with his natural humble demeanour. He quickly referenced earning respect in the Stampeders locker room last season while starting during Bo Levi Mitchell’s injury. A template he’ll look to follow in Toronto.
QB Sneak Strategies
The Quote: “You have no idea how hard it is”
The Takeaway: I feel like every rookie free agent American coming to training camp for a shot dressing as a backup CFL QB should be forced to listen to this in depth break down of how to survive what most fans take for granted. For the full breakdown and his enhanced approach go to 1:01:13 in the podcast.
The Quote: “Being a dad is so different. The things you think about are all about protecting your baby and you just know love on a whole new level. It’s a blessing to be here for every day and every milestone right now but one of the things I struggle with right now the most in anxiety I’ve never felt before. I’ve always been a heavy sleeper but now, for the last two months I wake up every 2-3 hours and there are nights I’ll jump out of bed and I’ll reach for her because I think she’s about to fall off the bed when she’s safe in her crib.”
The Takeaway: Anybody who watched TSN’s original ‘The Quilt’ knows how big a role Nick’s family has played in his life. His vulnerability and honesty is refreshing but the challenges of his professional life colliding with an incredibly unique moment in his family life have obviously caused some challenges.
Marshall Ferguson is a former U SPORTS Quarterback, now serving as TSN 1150 Hamilton morning show host, voice of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and CFL.ca analyst.