By Scott Morganroth
FAU running back Charles Pierre is a member of the Lions, but not the ones in Detroit. He'll be playing for the British Columbia Lions in the CFL.
On Dec 26, 2008, Detroit fans had a chance to see a No. 20 at Ford Field in FAU's 24-21 win over Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl.
No. 20 in Detroit has been out of circulation with the Lions but has been proudly worn by Billy Sims and Hall of Famer Barry Sanders.
I am surprised that the 0-16 Lions didn't give Pierre a tryout with the worst case scenerio being that the 5-9, 210 pound native of Orlando, could play on special teams. This is always a great way to make it in the NFL.
I'll never forget when the Miami Dolphins selected quarterback Jim "Crash" Jensen as a second day draft choice out of Boston University. All Jensen did was play 12 seasons with the Dolphins as a quarterback, running back, fullback, wide receiver, tight end, holder, and punt snapper.
From 1984-1991, Jensen turned 229 receptions into 132 first downs. From 1984-1988, he recorded a reception in 55 of 63 games.
I thought for sure when Jensen was drafted, he'd never make it through the summer since he played behind the late David Woodley and Don Strock. But Coach Don Shula liked Jensen's hands and versatility that he became a good blocker on special teams. Jensen would later become a weapon for Hall of Famer Dan Marino as well as an emergency signal caller.
But Pierre could prosper in the CFL. Warren Moon led the Edmonton Eskimos to five consecutive Grey Cup Championships from 1978-82. Moon is ranked fifth on a list of the CFL's 50 greatest players.
Doug Flutie was regarded as too small by scouts to play in the NFL because his 5-10, 180 pound frame would be a liability for him to see over defenders. However, after three Grey Cup Championships in an eight-year CFL career that enabled him to become the first non-Canadian inductee into the Canada Sports Hall of Fame on May 8, 2007, Flutie proved his doubters wrong and eventually worked his way to the NFL.
Both Moon and Flutie took advantage of the wider and longer field and Pierre figures to benefit as well since there is no 55-yard line in the NFL with his breakaway style. Pierre will likely be the recipient of passes and could become a productive receiver out of the backfield.
In 1990, Flutie began his career with the British Columbia Lions. The only things that haven't changed from 1990-2009 is the fact that Pierre will need some heavier clothes, the passion that the city of Vancouver has for NHL's Canucks and Stanley Park reminds me a lot of Sea World in his hometown of Orlando.
Vancouver is one of the prettiest cities I've ever visited. If Charles performs well, and he is allowed to wear the BC Lions No. 20, these people would even wear it at Canucks games. But like Sims and Sanders, Pierre will still have the benefit of climate controlled dome conditions at BC Place which holds 59, 841 for football, slightly smaller than Ford Field's 65,000.
But this will be a good stepping stone for Pierre to begin his mission to prove all NFL teams wrong by not giving him a shot to show his skills in the NFL. Now at least he can realize that Moon and Flutie did fine North of the Border.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at Scottsports33@aol.com