He’s got a shiny new Grey Cup ring and a successful career outside of football as a real estate agent, but Jake Thomas isn’t ready to hang up the pads just yet.
On Monday, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced the 30-year-old defensive tackle from Douglas, N.B., will return for his ninth season with the CFL team as the two sides have agreed on a one-year contract extension. Thomas, who had a career-high five sacks in 2019, is the longest-serving player on the team.
Thomas is the third pending free agent to re-sign with the club; offensive lineman Jermarcus Hardrick and quarterback Sean McGuire recently inked new deals to stay in Winnipeg.
“Just seeing a few guys starting to sign, it kind of got the bug going for me again,” Thomas told reporters in a conference call on Monday.
“Just to be there in Winnipeg and hopefully be there sharing (the 2019 Grey Cup) with all the fans and being able to see that banner get raised… just the drive to win more Grey Cups was the real main factor of me wanting to keep on playing.”
With the CFL unable to have a 2020 season owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, Thomas was able to get a jump start on his new career as a realtor with Williams Capital Realty in Fredericton. Even though business is going well, Thomas wasn’t ready to walk away from the game.
“I think it was one positive of the 2020 cancelled season that it gave me a chance to start working on that post-football career,” Thomas said.
“But no, I think if there was going to be football played, I still had the drive and the (desire) to be out there. I think we’ll have a really competitive team next year and there are not that many chances to win championships, so I think you have to take those as many times as you can.”
In 2018, it appeared the Bombers were going to move on from Thomas and roll with younger and cheaper talent. An injury led to the team bringing Thomas back and he has rewarded the Bombers with standout play ever since.
“I think the world works in mysterious ways sometimes. I’ve always enjoyed my time in Winnipeg. The time where I showed up to camp a couple days late, I think a big part of that might’ve just been some miscommunication on a few ends. But… Winnipeg’s kind of always been where I wanted to play… It’s just a great place to play football,” he said.
Thomas has come a long way from being a fourth-round pick in the 2012 CFL draft. When the Bombers blasted the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-12 to win the 2019 championship game, the team designated Thomas to be the one to receive the Grey Cup trophy from commissioner Randy Ambrosie.
Thomas never imagined he’d last this long in the league and he praised former Bombers defensive linemen Bryant Turner Jr., Alex Hall, Jason Vega, Greg Peach and Jamaal Westerman for showing him the ropes early on in his career.
“Someone told me the best two abilities you can have as a football player are accountability and durability. Accountable in knowing what you’re going to do out there, knowing what your teammates’ jobs are going to be, and durability in just being able to actually be on the field. Those are kind of two pillars I’ve prided myself on throughout my career,” he said.
“I don’t think without whoever it was who told me that lesson so many years ago, I wish I could remember who, I would’ve been able to last so long in the league.”
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
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