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Goltz's wife waited her whole life for him; perhaps he's what Bomber fans have been waiting for as well

Posted: 07/26/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 07/26/2013 7:24 AM | Updates

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Winnipeg Blue Bombers' QB Justin Goltz (18) prepares to throw the ball during the pre-game day walk through at Investors Group Field Thursday morning.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Winnipeg Blue Bombers' QB Justin Goltz (18) prepares to throw the ball during the pre-game day walk through at Investors Group Field Thursday morning. Photo Store

So, if you want to know what a guy is really like, the best person to generally ask is the guy's wife -- that eternal wellspring of unvarnished truth.

And that's especially so when that wife also happens to be a California blonde, professional beach volleyball player -- which is to say someone who probably wasn't lacking in the suitors department and for whom it would presumably take quite a bit to impress.

And so, it was kind of interesting this week to hear Meri-De Goltz gush about her husband, Justin -- the man the 1-3 Winnipeg Blue Bombers have chosen to lead them into battle tonight at Investors Group Field against the 3-1 Calgary Stampeders.

"He's an amazing person. I told his mom from the day I met him that I'd waited all my life for him. I'm 10 years older than him. I've been around the block. I've seen it. I played pro sports myself," said Meri-De, who in addition to being a physical therapist has also played volleyball professionally on the beach circuit and indoors in Europe.

"He's strong-willed, determined, very loving. He's the sweetest guy I've ever met. He opens the door for me. He's very genuine. Being from San Diego, I didn't meet a lot of good guys. But he's a Michigan boy -- born and raised. They're a good breed.

"He's very mature for his age. He's an old soul."

Yeah, and what's your wife saying about you today? And, also, what's the deal on guys from San Diego?

Good questions those, but the most pressing question at the moment is whether Goltz is also the man Winnipeg fans have been waiting their whole lives for -- or at least what seems like a lifetime.

The Bombers coaching staff would have you believe that he just might be, despite the fact Goltz has completed just 20 passes since joining the Bombers in 2010.

There are compelling reasons, the coaches say, that Goltz, 25, is the only remaining member of a triumvirate of backup QBs the past few years that is still wearing the uniform, with Alex Brink and Joey Elliott both now distant memories.

It begins simply enough with the fact Goltz looks like a quarterback. He's 6-5 and 210 pounds and has an unusually long stride, his teammates say, which makes him both quick and elusive. Add in some above-average arm strength and a raging addiction to working out ("He gets very stressed if he misses his workouts," said Meri-De) and it'd be hard to argue that Goltz doesn't have all the physical materials necessary to be a pro quarterback.

He's also exceptionally bright. While his alma mater, tiny Occidental College outside Los Angeles, is a Division III school when it comes to football, it plays in the big leagues academically and counts among its alumnus a guy named Barack Obama. Goltz has a finance degree from Occidental, which is to say he will do very well when football comes to an end.

And then there's the character issue that perhaps counts for more than everything else combined when it comes to QBs.

Bombers offensive lineman Glenn January -- a hard-ass Texan who suffers fools badly -- tells this anecdote when asked what Goltz is like off the field.

"When you look at our locker-room, there's me and Steve (Morley) sitting together and then the other side of me is Buck (Pierce). And then the other side of Buck is Justin," January began.

"Well, let me just say that being here in the off-season, I had some influence in putting together that locker-room. And for me to put Justin next to me means that he's a guy who comes to work and brings a professional mentality. And that's what we all bring together -- we're like-minded people who come to work everyday and we're not here to screw around."

Goltz has hardly had the time for that in what had already been an extraordinary year in his life even before he was told this week that he would get his first professional start tonight against Calgary in place of Pierce, the team's longtime but oft-injured starter.

It's said that three of the simultaneously most significant and most stressful milestones in any man's life are marriage, fatherhood and buying a home -- and Goltz did all three in the past year, marrying Meri-De in March 2012, buying a home this spring in San Diego and having a son, Braxton, in May.

Leading a 1-3 football team into a stadium filled with some very frustrated fans right now is relatively small potatoes to hear Goltz tell it.

"I could see where from the outside, all that stuff might look stressful," said Goltz. "But I honestly can't stop smiling this week. I've got this amazing wife and beautiful son who are here watching me play professional football and I'm getting the chance to start my first CFL game.

"I've got everything in the world to be proud and happy about. So instead of letting it be pressure, I'm just being grateful for all the good in my life right now and doing my best to enjoy all of it."

Which brings us nicely to the final calculation of the parts that make up Goltz -- Justin Goltz doesn't need football. Unlike many of his teammates on this 2013 Bombers team for whom their lifestyles -- not to mention their lives -- will take a decided turn for the worse the moment pro football ends, Goltz has a very bright future outside the game.

In addition to that finance degree from Occidental, Goltz also has built a very successful second career as an actor in major television commercials for the likes of such corporate behemoths as Snickers, in which he appeared last winter alongside Hollywood star Robin Williams, and McDonalds.

The money isn't huge -- about $5,000 for a day's work, but the residuals he's paid every time the commercial airs can add up. And it's exactly the kind of fall-back career most pro football players don't have.

So it's life, sure but this football business tonight isn't life and death for Justin Goltz.

He'll try his best, for sure. And if he shows even a modicum of success -- he probably doesn't need to win tonight, but will at least need to consistently move the ball -- all the signals from Bomberland this week were that Goltz will continue to lead the team next week in Vancouver, long after Pierce has recovered from whatever injury he is (according to the training staff) or is not (according to Pierce) currently suffering from.

His biggest fan will be in the stands tonight and Meri-De Goltz knows, from having been around this team with her husband the last four seasons, that the field and the stands in Winnipeg have both been hostile environments for all the men before Goltz who have tried to take Pierce's job.

"I know what it's like. I've sat in the crowd when Alex Brink was here and it's tough. A lot of people talk a lot of crap," said Meri-De. "But the thing is, he knows as a person what he can do. And now he just wants to prove it to the fanbase."

She fell in love with the man at first sight. We'll find out tonight if everyone else does, too.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 26, 2013 C2

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Updated on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 7:24 AM CDT: replaces photo

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