16 mai 2024

Filer transmet rapidement ses connaissances à la ligne offensive de ROUGE et NOIR

Around the Canadian Football Leauge, Mike Filer’s pedigree speaks for itself.

As a player, he spent eight seasons in the league, and in many of which, he was revered as one of the best centres around. His retirement in 2021 sent shockwaves around the country, and an emotional statement made it clear football was his life. Despite taking a firefighting job, Filer knew coming back to the game he loves was one of his biggest goals.

Heading into training camp, General Manager Shawn Burke floated the idea of inviting Filer to help out Offensive Line Coach Pat Perles, and Offensive Coordinator Tommy Condell immediately got on the phone, greasing the wheels to make it happen.

“I encouraged him to do this,” Condell said. “I know he’s a fireman and all that now, but I wanted him to come here and assist, because I know what kind of man he is. I’ve been with him for all these years, and I wanted him to come share his knowledge.”

Many times, great players are unable to make the jump to being great coaches, but there was little doubt in Condell’s mind that Filer is the exact kind of person who can excel as a teacher.

“He’s just a natural leader,” he said. “He doesn’t need to yell and scream, and when he comes out here, he’s a likeable person, and he’s intelligent. He’s a funny guy, and even if you don’t know him, you’ll feel like you’ve known him for a long time when you do meet him. He always puts a smile on your face, but he holds you accountable, he always has.”

Filer comes to Ottawa with plenty to learn, but also something to prove. The guest coach role is phenomenal for exposing some of the brightest young minds football has to offer to the CFL, allowing them to grow, but Filer is also expected to coach.

It hasn’t taken long for that to happen. On the very first day on the field, the Brantford, Ontario native looked as if he had been coaching for decades. If he wasn’t happy with how a drill was done, he made the players run it again. If he didn’t appreciate the effort, he made them work double as hard on the next rep. If he thought the drive and competition dropped even slightly, he got the group together and reminded them how important every single rep is.

“When it comes to these positions, you either have it, or you don’t,” Filer said. “This is in your blood. When you’re given an opportunity like this, you can’t just stand on the sideline. Having the chance to coach alongside and learn from Coach Perles [is something I had to jump on]. He’s a legend, and he has a lot of knowledge to share. It was a no-brainer.”

The 33-year-old’s presence has been remarkably positive for the young players on the offensive line, who Condell says have taken plenty of notes on what it takes to have a long CFL career, but the veterans have also found plenty of use in Filer’s stay.

Coaching players like Dariusz Bladek, Drew Desjarlais, and Jacob Ruby who are only a handful of years younger than Filer – and who also played against him at one point or another – has the makings of being complicated. By and large, however, they have bought in, opening their ears to feedback and critique when they hear it.

“These guys have been great,” Filer said. “They all want to learn, they’re asking great questions, and they are there for one another. They have allowed me to come in and get right to it, which has made it a lot easier for me.”

A heart entrenched in Hamilton for years, the former Tiger-Cat has traded in his black and gold for red and black, looking to see more of the football world, and step outside of his comfort zone.

“My time in Hamilton is done, and it feels good to be in a different organization and see how things are done,” Filer said. “Coach Dyce is phenomenal here, I love the way he has structured things and how he leads. Obviously, Coach Condell I’ve been around a lot, and I’m a big believer in his stuff.”

Though the job is only temporary, Filer plans to finish out strong, emptying the tank of wisdom, with the hopes of making enough of an impression to earn himself a job somewhere down the line.

“It’s something that has always been in the back of my mind, and being out here has relit that fire,” Filer said. “When football is in you, it’s in you, and nobody from the outside looking in will ever understand that. I’m here to give as much as I can for two weeks, and when it’s done, whatever happens, happens.”