Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/6/2009 (4556 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
JOHN Grisham wrote Playing for Pizza and Mike Renaud lived Punting for Pilsener.
Grisham's novel focuses on a washed up quarterback regaining his love for football playing in a quaint Italian pro league where the post-game meals are heftier than the weekly stipend.
Renaud took his sinking pro career to Germany last season and lived a similar existence to Grisham's Rick Dockery, kicking for the Moenchengladbach Mavericks of the German Football League. He loved the experience.
"It was kind of like that book. I read it before I went over. They give you a little car, an apartment and a cell phone and they just throw you there. It's an adventure, right? I had a great time and it's probably the best thing I did. It got me back in the CFL so it served me well," said Renaud, a 26-year-old acquired by the Bombers on Saturday in a trade for a draft pick with the Calgary Stampeders. "There's no Lawrence Taylors there. No big names. There's a network called europlayers.com. I submitted a profile and you get hits all the time. There are leagues all over Europe. You'd be amazed how many leagues are there."
The Bombers now have three kickers in camp, import placekicker Alexis Serna, non-import placekicker and 39-year-old Dan Giancola and non-import Renaud.
Serna can do both jobs or the club could use him as a placekicker and leave the punting to Renaud. A third option is having two Canadians, Giancola and Renaud handle the kicking.
"You guys probably saw more of (Renaud) punting than I did," said coach Mike Kelly, when asked about Renaud's first workout with the Blue Bombers on Sunday. "What we do know is, No. 1, he has the right passport, and No. 2, he does have the ability to put the ball up and out. We're looking forward to see how he performs as the week goes on and certainly in a game-type situation on Wednesday night."
Renaud attended training camp with the Montreal Alouettes in 2006 before being released and sitting out all of 2007. When nothing came up in North America for the 2008 season, he started looking overseas.
"I knew I had to keep playing. If you miss a second year you fall out of the mental aspect of the game. I knew I had to keep playing. I went to Germany. I found a spot out there to play," said the 6-3, 215-pound Renaud, who was a two-time All-Canadian at Concordia University in Montreal and a teammate of Bombers long snapper Chris Cvetkovic. "I got off the plane and got a phone call from Calgary and went to camp and then ended up here, so it worked for me."
The German season was short on game action but long on fun.
"Eight games plus playoffs and we won the championship. You don't get a ring. You get a litre mug and all you can drink. It was awesome," said Renaud. "It builds character. Germany's awesome. I did some travelling. It's kind of weird, they have a six-week break right in the middle of their season. No practice. Everyone takes off. Right about this time last year I was on the beach in Barcelona."
So why come back?
"Well, they just gave you enough to get by. It was about 1,000 euros a month. Everything is looked after, there's a meal plan. So it was just pocket money," said Renaud. "Warsteiner was one of our sponsors. The stadium was in Cologne and named after Warsteiner, a premium German beer. We tapped that place out just about every night."
Kicking in Cologne is one thing but handling a Prairie wind is another altogether. Renaud, however, seems like a quick study.
"I'm just kind of getting into a rhythm. New stadium, new people, new snapper. Just trying to get comfortable and do the best I can," said Renaud.
"I've been told before that the wind is a big thing here. I have to try and adapt to the wind cycle. I don't have Bob Cameron's phone number but I think I might need it."