April 7, 2020

‘Staying positive is the only thing that’s going to get us all through this.”

Winnipeg Blue Bombers #51 Jermarcus Hardrick

Jermarcus Hardrick is healthy, he’s happy and he’s surrounded by family. That’s been his rock-solid foundation for a few years now, and it’s the place from which he tries to appreciate each day’s offerings.

The veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers right tackle didn’t always have this upbeat outlook on life; this viewpoint which allows him to see the silver linings in all situations.

No, It takes time – years even – for a man to understand how all the potholes and detours on the road he has travelled might help one day shape his current perspective.

And so, as the entire planet struggles through this deadly pandemic, we offer this: a little dose of Mr. Hardrick and his keep-your-chin-up perspective can be both uplifting and inspiring.

“The last little while has been crazy,” began the Winnipeg Blue Bombers right tackle in a conversation with this week. “It’s been a real switch for me, to be honest. But it’s given me a chance to spend a lot more time with my family and take advantage of this time at home.

“It’s tough to stay positive, I understand that. Everything you read is so bad and you can’t do anything because you’re isolated. But staying positive, I think, is the only thing that’s going to get us all through this.”

Hardrick is in Lincoln, Neb. with his wife and kids who, he admits, sometimes struggle with understanding why they are not in school or not able to play with other kids at the park.

“We live about a block from the park and they wonder why we can’t run on the field and have to stay on the track,” he said. “They wonder why they can’t be on the playground or touch anything. All you can do, all anyone can do, is try to stay positive.

“How are we going to come out of this? Are we going to come out as better people? Did we set our goals right? This is a chance to change some of that. I’m looking at some of the courses I can take for life after football. I’ve got stuff to do around the house that I can get done now. That’s how I choose to look at all this.”

Those who are closest to Hardrick – his teammates call him ‘Yoshi’ – see this every day from the 29-year-old Mississippi product. We’ve told his compelling story before, about how he grew up in poverty yet managed to make it to professional football against all odds.

He is a husband and a father now. A Grey Cup champion, too. And there isn’t a second of all of this that he now takes for granted. It’s why late last week he tweeted out this thank you to the game of football, to coaches, teammates, friends and counsellors.



We asked him during our conversation if that tweet was somehow COVID-19 related; that given more time to think and reflect, he was becoming more introspective.

Perhaps, he said. But his thoughts were mostly part of a bigger picture perspective. And again, maybe following Hardrick’s lead and taking a moment to step back in appreciation can be important in helping get through all this.

“That tweet? I was just thinking about the things I’ve gone through in my life and some of the people I talk to daily,” he said. “Football gave me a chance to meet these people. It gave me a chance to take care of my family. I just wanted to make sure I was giving back to some people. I was texting coaches that helped me and to the coaches that I don’t have their number, I hope they saw it on social media.

“The positive leadership and the positive outlook on life they gave me was so important. And me being a parent now I know the sacrifices they made and how much they invested in me back then. I respect them so much.”

“I think about that stuff a lot. There’s not a right or wrong time to send out that message. I just have a lot of people I am in contact with regularly where I ask how they are doing and how their families are. They ask me the same. We all need to do that even more now.”

Hardrick cuts an imposing figure at first glance. Standing 6-5 and listed at 319 pounds, he owns a menacing stare and channels both a fiery intensity not just for every game, but every single practice.

Yet, he also brings a boyish joy to every day, too. He’s not shy from publicly proclaiming his love for his teammates and coaches and still finds a small comfort in showing up to work every day and still seeing his jersey hanging in his locker.

That was important before this pandemic and he vows to take that appreciation when things to return to normal, too.

“You sometimes can take advantage of things,” Hardrick said. “But what’s happening now, this is outside of football, man. To me, this is now time for me to grow as a person, to get clearer and appreciate everything around you, appreciate your family. You hear the deaths from this virus, or the stories about kids that are isolated… all of this has made me just that much more appreciative. I’m just enjoying being able to wake up every day with my kids and my wife.

“It’s made me even that more appreciative of life. I just hope everybody can somehow stay positive. Stay upbeat. We’ll get through this.”