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55 Yard Line

Taylor Robertson goes from trenches to pit

Andrew Bucholtz
55 Yard Line

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J.R. Fitzpatrick, Taylor Robertson and the rest of the crew celebrate Sunday's win.

There aren't too many athletes who can compete in two professional sports leagues, particularly those as different as the CFL and NASCAR, but former Toronto Argonauts' guard Taylor Robertson is proving to be an exception. Robertson, a 31-year-old offensive lineman from Brantford, has been in the CFL since 2003 with the Calgary Stampeders and the Argonauts, but when Toronto elected not to renew his contract this offseason, he decided to pursue his love of stock car racing rather than try and catch on with another CFL franchise, becoming a member of long-time friend J.R. Fitzpatrick's No. 84 Equipment Express Chevrolet team in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. As he told Sportsnet's Perry Lefko, Robertson is happy with his drastic career change:

"I've known for a long time I'm ready to move from football," said Robertson on Monday. "I was in the 88-90 percent range in terms of being 100 percent comfortable being done. I wanted to make sure I was at that 100 percent level. I'd never want to walk away from anything with the possibility of wanting to come back, so I took a lot of time this off-season. I wanted to make sure I was 100 percent comfortable with everything and at peace with everything and I am fully. It's exciting.

"I'm still young enough to be able to have a new career and take on new challenges. I'm still healthy, which is another big thing, too. I'm extremely happy about the way things have turned out. I'm fortunate to make all these decisions myself. I had the chance to move on and enjoy being on someone else's team and still being part of a sport and at a competition level.

"I played nine years pro and four years college down south. Not to take anything away from football. I love football as well, but the fact I had an opportunity to do something I've always wanted to try is something I really couldn't pass up. If I had played another three or four years of football that chance probably would not be there, and you never know with injuries and how your body will hold up. The timing was right."

It's remarkable to see an athlete go from one sport to another this quickly, but Robertson's strength and athleticism from football certainly would seem likely to help him out in his new role as jack man and gas man, and it's possible all those hours of memorizing playbooks and executing the same assignments over and over again could make it much easier to learn the split-second precise routine of a pit crew. It's not like Robertson stepped in instantly without training, either; he's been practicing pit stops at a Cambridge shop owned by the team. Thus far, the pairing's working out well; Fitzpatrick won the initial stop on the 12-race Canadian circuit Sunday in Bowmanville, Ontario, picking up his seventh career victory. That's a great debut for Robertson in his new sports career, and it's nice to see a CFL player who doesn't have to abandon the thrill of competition when he hangs up his cleats.

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