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May 12, 2017

Prospect Profile | Qadr Spooner

It would be more than a little melodramatic to suggest football saved Qadr Spooner.

But it wouldn’t be at all wrong to say the game helped put the mammoth offensive lineman – drafted by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the second round, 15th overall last Sunday – on the straight and narrow.

“When I was younger, my mom really pushed me to the game,” began Spooner earlier this week in a conversation with bluebombers.com. “She wanted me to get exercise, and at the same time, stay away from the bad stuff.

“We tried every sport… jiu-jitsu, karate, handball and then eventually she got me into football and I just connected with it. It allowed me to blow off some steam and a lot of anger. Football has meant everything to me since then.”

A quick peek at Spooner’s complete resume paints a picture of a dominant football player who has squeezed everything out his opportunity to play and go to school at the same time.

The 6-4, 315-pounder started games at both guard and tackle for the McGill University Redmen in 2016, en route to being named a RESQ All-Star.

Off the field, he has a human resources degree and has another semester to complete a degree in social work. He graduated from Vanier College (before McGill) in special care counselling and just completed his internships in gerontology. He also works with at-risk kids and has helped with children in the autism spectrum disorder.

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Born in Brossard, Quebec, Spooner is the son of immigrants – his mom is from Trinidad, his father from Guyana – who had to scrap and fight just to make ends meet. His desire to squeeze every ounce out of life comes from their influence and from the football coaches and others who helped get him on the right path when he was younger.

“I was one of those kids,” Spooner said. “I got caught doing things I shouldn’t have, and because of the coaches I had growing up, they helped direct me the right way because they wanted me to get the best out of myself. They showed me how important school was and the better I did in school, the longer I would get to play football. It was beneficial for me.”

“That’s the message I want to get across to at-risk kids who maybe can’t see the options for themselves. They showed me directly how I can make a difference in my life. And now I get to continue to play the game I love.”

“A lot of friends that I used to hang out with on a day-to-day basis stayed on that same path,” Spooner added. “Now I hear from them and they aren’t happy with some of the decisions they made.

“I’m just so happy I was guided to the right way for me.”

Spooner first came on the CFL radar back in 2013 when scouts arrived on the McGill campus to eyeball Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff (of the Kansas City Chiefs). He interviewed with the Bombers at the CFL’s National Combine in Regina in March and the club was blown away by his enthusiasm and knowledge of the game.

It didn’t hurt, of course, that when this gentle giant off the field straps on the shoulder pads and helmet, he develops a big-time mean streak.

“When I put on my helmet it’s like I turn into another guy,” said Spooner with a chuckle. “I go all out and play to the whistle… and a little bit after to wear down my opponent. I play with a lot of tenacity.

“It seemed like they love the way I play. We were sitting there analyzing things and my understanding of the game by asking me to break down responsibilities (while watching film). I walked them through our playbook and it seemed like they were impressed with how I played and how I did my job.

“I was at my aunt’s house on draft day with some immediate family and I was really nervous just sitting there waiting for that call. I got a call earlier in the day from one of the coaches who said if I was there when they had a chance to pick, they would be giving me another call. So every time Winnipeg came on the board, I kind of held my breath.

“I can’t wait to get out there and start my next football chapter.”