Chad SIMPSON understands what it's like to have something suddenly snatched away from him. He doesn't like it, not one bit. But he understands it and knows how to use that anger-slash-disappointment as motivational fuel.
"I lost my father when I was 10 and the first thing I did when he died, I went and played football because it helped ease the pain," said the Winnipeg Blue Bomber tailback on Tuesday. "For me, football always helps ease the pain of anything. If I had a bad day at school I could go to practice and run out my frustration.
"Football is my job, but it's also a part of me. Period. When people say my name in Miami (his hometown) they say, 'Chad, the football player.' It's not to say I couldn't do something else, but this is an important part of me. This game has helped me a lot."
And so, if you want to know what has driven the 27-year-old Floridian to rush for 1,003 yards this season in just 13 games and why he grinds for every inch of every carry like it might be his last, this is the starting point. It's also why he is so quick to praise his offensive line after a solid day's work and why he was so outspoken on those occasions when the Bombers were absolutely spanked this season.
And it's why there have been some significant signposts for Simpson during the course of the year, from signing with the club in January, to earning the starting tailback job in the summer to eclipsing the 1-K mark in last week's win over the Toronto Argonauts. You see, Simpson had it all over the course of a few seasons -- cracking the Indianapolis Colts roster as an undrafted free agent and playing in 25 games over two years before landing with the Washington Redskins in 2010.
And then, POOF!, it was all gone.
Enter the Bombers...
"When I first got here, all I was thinking about was making a mark," Simpson said. "I thought this might be my last chance in football. I wanted to come here and help this good team that went to the Grey Cup. I just wanted to add to what they had and be seen as a great back.
"I was sitting for a year just watching football. That hurt me to my heart, not being out there playing. I had been playing since I was seven and so when you have something you've been doing your whole life taken away from you, it's a big adjustment. You miss it like crazy.
"So when you get it back... when we were losing those bad games and I was away from my family, I had those pictures in my head again of when I wasn't playing football. I got upset. I got emotional."
Simpson has a six-year-old daughter, Chastity, who lives in Miami with her mother.
He reaches out to her via Skype every other night, but admits being a stranger in a strange land keeping his dream alive means he is missing out on some critical moments in her life.
"I want to be there and help her learn things and help her grow up," said Simpson. "She's in gymnastics now and I heard she's getting a little toned and that she's very competitive. It's hard being away.
"This year, it's had its ups and downs as far as the football goes. But I love my teammates and the people here in Winnipeg. They've helped me go through a season like this where I've been away from my family."
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Chad Simpson joined an exclusive club last weekend, becoming just the fifth Bomber -- and the first in two decades -- to rush for 1,000 yards in his first CFL season.
Here's a look at Simpson's place in Bomber history: