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April 4, 2017

Robert Gordon | Catching Up With The Flash

Robert Gordon Winnipeg Blue Bombers 2003. Photo Scott Grant

He was ‘Flash’ to his fans and his friends. And it was Dave Ritchie, his head coach during his days with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who dubbed him ‘Bobby Gorgeous.’

So yeah, Robert Gordon has always had an understanding and an appreciation of the powerful combination of skill mixed with dramatic flair. He lived it as a player, regularly backing up his on-field work by flashing his trademark grin when the television cameras were staring him in the face afterward.

Maybe that explains, in part, how Gordon came to work for World Wrestling Entertainment as a Senior Manager of Talent Development.

Yes, the man can recognize the athleticism in coming off the top rope or being able to take a folding chair off the back. But sports is also entertainment, and Gordon – who appeared in five movies including ‘Any Given Sunday’, ‘We Are Marshall’, ‘Invincible’, ‘The Game Plan’ and ‘Second String’ – long ago realized the athletes with personality had doors open for them.

 

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“I’m a talent scout,” began Gordon, explaining his gig with WWE in a recent chat with bluebombers.com from his home in Florida. “They found me, actually. It’s cool. Triple H (former wrestler-turned WWE executive) is my boss. I’ve been to the Super Bowl, I went to the Pro Bowl, I’ve been to every body building event you can imagine. I go around looking for talent. You’ve got to have the look, but you’ve got to have character. My first camp we flew in three people and they kept three (among his finds are ‘Mr. Bronson’ – former Seattle Seahawks running back Demitrious Bronson and Alvin Abitz).

“It’s been fun. There’s a lot of money involved. That Vince McMahon (WWE owner, CEO) is a smart man… it’s been 20 years now that Monday Night Raw has been on. My dad watches it. I watch Monday Night Football and my dad is watching Raw. I’ll be on the phone with him and say, ‘Dad, I missed it… what happened last night on Monday Night Football?’ And he’ll say, ‘there was a suitcase match on Raw.’

“The (WWE) audience is 40 per cent women, so I’m looking for divas, too,” Gordon added. “That was a good part of my job… I got to go to a bunch of bikini shows. That was cool. I said to my wife, ‘But honey… it’s work!’ She understood when I got a cheque.”

Gordon giggles here, and if you were ever around the man during his 13-year Canadian Football League career – the last six with the Bombers – you’ll remember he has always had a gift of making people feel comfortable in his presence.

He was never the type to get too cozy with one gig, either. He played Arena ball in the winter, CFL in the summer, and cranked out four 1,000-yard seasons – including a career-best 1,395 yards as a Bomber in 2000 – and was a walking, talking perpetual motion machine in the clubhouse, giving and taking shots with a laugh.

“Everything’s good with me. I’d like to make more money, but I’m frugal… I learned that from Milt (Stegall) all those years playing with him,” Gordon said with a chuckle.

“He and (Harold) Nash would come back from road trips with their per diems all the time and I’m like, ‘Man… what? You came back from Montreal with money?!’ Those guys were nerds. I’d tell them, ‘I spent all my money, at least treat me. I got you open, Milt.’”

Gordon didn’t catch a nanosecond of Wrestlemania 33 Sunday night as he was en route to The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia ‘to coach some NFL guys for three weeks.’ The invitation list included Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow among others, but he had his doubts either would be in attendance.

And later this week, Gordon hopes to get favourable news about a head coaching job he’s up for in the China Arena Football League. Just FYI, he’s been a guest coach with the Seattle Seahawks and was the head coach of the Hudson Valley Fort of the FXFL (Fall Experimental Football League) that played two years before folding.

Robert Gordon Winnipeg Blue Bombers 2001. Photo John Bradley

While we’re rattling off lines on his resume, it’s worth noting that Gordon is also a strength and conditioning coach with Nike who trains kids from all over the world at sports camps ranging from football to basketball, tennis and lacrosse, and he and his wife Linh, a diabetes educator, are also a ‘power couple’ with Isagenix.

His oldest son, Austin, is a 6-6 forward with the Sarasota Manatees of the American Basketball Association while 14-year-old Maven is a gifted baseball player. His family, plus his seemingly boundless energy, means Gordon is always on the go.

“I try to stay close so I can be around my kids,” said Gordon, now 48. “I was at BMW, I did internet sales, I managed a gym at LA Fitness and I was a deputy for 4 ½ years but barely saw my wife… my shift would end at 6 a.m. and she’d just be going to work. Plus, I was going to jail every day.

“I’ve put my hands into everything. I’m trying to get back in good shape again. I’ve got a buddy in L.A. who is a stunt guy who has $10 million in the bank from just falling down. He was in Calgary for a second before he turned to this. I want to get in shape because I could have done some things with Vin Diesel a while back. But you’ve got to be in L.A. for that.”

The conversation shifts back to Gordon’s playing days, and specifically his time in blue and gold. Naturally, that includes a discussion about the 2001 Bombers – that 14-4 crew that fell short in the Grey Cup.

“That was one of the best teams ever… it’s just crappy what happened at the end. That still kills me,” said Gordon. “We had so much fun in 2001, we were winning and it was such a good group of guys. We just didn’t finish.

“You know, I chased the Grey Cup for 13 years and never got it. But I’m blessed. I’ve lost a couple of people along the way, friends of mine, so I wake up every day blessed to be healthy. And as long as I can look a little bit better than the average 48-year-old, I’m good.

“I appreciate life. I love people. Everybody talks about the election down here… I don’t have time for that. I’m worried about me and tomorrow. I don’t get involved in that, I just try to be good to everybody.”