July 1 was a big day for new Calgary Stampeders' defensive coordinator Rick Campbell long before his team faced the Montreal Alouettes. Campbell, the son of legendary Edmonton Eskimos' head coach Hugh Campbell and a 14-year CFL coaching veteran, was officially given Canadian citizenship along with his wife Jeri in a celebration Sunday morning at Fort Calgary. Thus, as Wes Gilbertson of The Calgary Sun writes, it was already a pretty good Canada Day for the Campbells even before Rick's defence proved instrumental to the Stampeders' 38-10 beatdown of Montreal:
"It just happened to be that (the ceremony) fell on July 1, so that made it quite neat that it was on Canada Day," Campbell said.
"With the game and everything and being able to win, it was a great day for my wife and I."
TSN had a camera there to capture part of the ceremony, which was then aired during Sunday night's game. Campbell appeared pretty touched by receiving his Canadian citizenship, and as he wrote on the Stampeders' website, it meant a lot to him:
"Alberta has been my home for a good chunk of my life and I always think of Alberta as my home. I dragged my wife up here and she's loved living up here and she loves living in Calgary. It's a good day."
As Campbell told Gilbertson, gaining dual Canadian citizenship probably won't change his life all that much, but seeing what Canadian citizenship meant to others at the ceremony reinforces how proud he is to officially be Canadian.
"The thing that was an eye-opener for me is, I think, there were 80 of us and for most of the people in that group, it's a life-changing deal for them," Campbell said. "Obviously, it's a big deal for me and my wife, but it's not changing our lifestyle like it is for some other people. It was definitely a celebration. Many of those people are having a drastic life change and celebrating a new life."
"I'm very proud to officially call myself a Canadian. It's not going to change my lifestyle, but it's a big deal. My wife and I were talking about it — Canada has given us a life and a living, and we have a lot of respect for that. We're glad we were able to do it."
An interesting element of Campbell's story is that it shows how important the CFL is for many Americans involved in football. Especially on the coaching side, there aren't a lot of opportunities to work at high levels in football. The NFL's the top goal for most, but there are only a limited number of jobs there, and most tend to go to people who already have substantial experience. The NCAA's big, but college football carries its own sets of challenges, and the various other professional leagues that have sprung up in the U.S. have tended to be far less stable and successful than the CFL. That's made it a key destination for people like Campbell and his father. The elder Campbell started as a player with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the sixties, where he was twice named a CFL all-star at flanker and was selected as a West all-star four times; he then went on to a great coaching career with Whitmore College in the States before taking over as the Eskimos' head coach in 1978, leading them to six straight Grey Cup games and winning five in a row. Following that, Campbell coached in the USFL and the NFL with the Los Angeles Express and the Houston Oilers (where he was reunited with former Eskimos' quarterback Warren Moon) before returning to Edmonton and serving as general manager from 1986-1997 and then as president and CEO through 2006.
The CFL's been huge for the younger Campbell, too, and he's worked in all different aspects of the game. He started in Edmonton in 1999 as a special teams and linebackers coach, served as their special teams and defensive backs coach from 2000-2004 and then as their defensive coordinator from 2005 to 2008, winning Grey Cups in 2003 and 2005. After a 2009 stop in Winnipeg as DB coach/special teams coordinator and a 2010 stint in Calgary as a running backs coach, Campbell returned to Edmonton as an assistant head coach and special teams coach last year before jumping to Calgary to take the DC job this year after both Chris Jones and Dave Walkosky left (for Toronto and Georgia Tech, respectively). The early returns on Campbell's hire are quite promising, too, as it's not many defences that can hold Anthony Calvillo to 174 passing yards and 10 points. The CFL and Canada may have given a lot to Campbell, but he's definitely contributing to this league and this country as well, and his Canada Day was probably one of the best anyone around the CFL had this year.