A few weeks ago we brought you a story on the off-season training regimen of veteran corner back Dante Marsh. Marsh has carved out a nice career in BC, but it started because of dedication and a will to realize his dreams.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are always young players who are starting their journeys and trying to get where players like Marsh have travelled.
One of those players is 23 year old Jordan Linnen, who has played the last four seasons with Langley (formerly Surrey) Rams in the BCFC. Two years ago, Linnen caught the eye of the BC Lions and they invited him to their training camp. He even got his first taste of pro football when he dressed for an exhibition game.
Linnen fell in love with the game in the 8th grade but didn’t really feel it was something he wanted to pursue as a career until his junior year.
As every professional athlete would tell you, Linnen says he’s had to make sacrifices as he chases his dream. “I’ve had to make a lot sacrifices in various areas of my life to pursue my dream of playing professional football. One area that I have had to sacrifice most in is my personal life and being able to do things with my family and friends,” said Linnen. “Football and training both take a huge time and monetary commitment. Thankfully throughout the years and process, my family and friends have sacrificed and supported me fully.”
“I gained a lot of my knowledge and experience at several positions in the secondary. I was fortunate enough to have coaches and former players around me that I could take away little things from and apply them to my game,” says Linnen. “I was also fortunate to be able to go up against some of the best receivers and running backs in the country week in and week out. Over those four years, I also learned a lot about myself as a person with dealing with different adversities, issues and responsibilities that come from playing junior football.”
His time with the BC Lions didn’t hurt either and showed Linnen what lies ahead if he can make it to the next level. “It taught me what it took to be a professional both on and off the field as well as the discipline, structure and commitment it took to become a professional athlete,” he said. “I was fortunate to be on a team with a lot of veteran leadership especially at the defensive back position. Having that experience and knowledge alone helped me tremendously in furthering my skill set as a DB.”
Linnen says the veteran core of the Lions was more than willing to take him under their wing. “Some of the key players that helped me most were Davis Sanchez, Dante Marsh, Geroy Simon, JR LaRose and Cauchy Muamba. To this day, I still maintain great relationships with and talk frequently to these guys to continue to develop and better my craft.”
Playing in his first exhibition game was a special moment for Jordan and he got his pro debut off to a rocking start with a big hit on special teams.
“It was an unbelievable experience and one of the most memorable moments of my life. I remember a day or two before the game, thinking to myself how I envisioned my first play in the CFL. I told myself that I wanted to run down the field and make a big play on my very first play so when it happened it was a kind of surreal feeling. My heart was beating heavy and my adrenaline was going. After that play, I settled in and realized I was just playing football.”
Not only did Linnen get to dress for that game, he also got to be part of the Grey Cup win that season, with the team and on the sidelines.
“It was an unforgettable experience that most aspiring athletes only dream of and yet I was blessed to experience it at such a young age. Some pros play an entire career without being able to experience a Grey Cup. Not only the game but the entire week leading up to the game, was filled with memorable moments and experiences like media day, practices and team dinners. The game itself had an unexplainable atmosphere like nothing I had ever experienced before. I am forever humbled and grateful for being forwarded the opportunity to be a part of that team.”
Of course, Jordan would like to get another shot with the Lions, who have told him they would like to see improvement in his speed and more consistency in his playmaking. Linnen says he’s worked hard in the off-season to work on his flaws and hopes to get another invite to training camp in June. He says other CFL teams have shown some interest but doesn’t know if anything will come of it.
Despite how hard he has worked, Linnen knows there are no guarantees and he plans to finish out his remaining years of CIS eligibility if no offers come his way.
Football teaches young people so many great values in life; not only about the game, but about hard work, discipline and teamwork. Whether Jordan Linnen gets to where he dreams to be or not has yet to be determined, but the qualities football has instilled in him will be with him through the rest of his life.
Our thanks to Jordan for taking the time to speak to us! You can follow his football journeys on Twitter, @WhoIsJLinnen