December 31, 2020

McGuire back on board

Sean McGuire (12) of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers before the CFL game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, MB on Friday Sept. 27, 2019. (Photo: Johany Jutras / CFL)

Amid the losses and the disappointment, the heartbreak and the frustration, Sean McGuire also managed to live some positive moments in 2020.

Just like the rest of his compadres across the Canadian Football League, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback – who officially signed a one-year contract extension with the club on New Year’s Eve – had his season wiped out when the plug was pulled on the hub-city plans in August.

That meant his goal to solidify himself behind starter Zach Collaros and further grow his game under new offensive coordinator Buck Pierce was put on hold.

Yet, McGuire also got married in July and he and his wife Olivia are expecting a baby boy in late January. Oh, and not long after the CFL season was deep-sixed, the McGuires returned to Western Illinois University where Olivia finished her final semester and Sean landed a gig coaching tight ends with the Leathernecks, where he had carved up the record books during his playing days.

“It’s been such an odd year for everyone, but in my experience there’s been so many bright spots, so many huge blessings and milestones this year,” began McGuire in a conversation with from his offseason base in Springfield, Ill.

“Part of that is due to all the craziness. There’s a silver lining for everyone, hopefully, during this crazy year and for me and my family there have been some big moments. Olivia and I have been able to spend more time together than we have in years and we’ve made the most of it.

“We’re definitely looking forward to 2021 now, the birth of our son and I’m obviously excited to sign with Winnipeg and then get our whole family up there.”

The Bombers quarterback depth chart underwent a seismic change near the end of the 2019 season and into 2020. There was the trade for Collaros, who went 4-0 in his starts en route to the Grey Cup title and re-signed before becoming a free agent. That marked the end of Matt Nichols’ days in Winnipeg and he then landed in Toronto with the Argonauts. As well, Chris Streveler signed with the Arizona Cardinals.

That leaves McGuire behind Collaros, along with Montana’s Dalton Sneed and Oklahoma State/Hawai’i product Dru Brown – both CFL rookies. We suggested back in May that McGuire would be one of the most compelling storylines heading into a 2020 training camp and that certainly still rings true as 2021 inches closer.

McGuire dressed for every game in 2019, but threw only three passes and rushed just three times. Pierce referenced McGuire’s work habits, football IQ and physical tools in the contract extension announcement and the Bombers staff were impressed with his rapid growth during the ’19 season.

McGuire believes coaching could be in his future and, like most successful QBs, those that spend the extra hours in the film room are better prepared on the field. That’s why his opportunity to coach in the fall was critical.

“Just being around the game, talking football and working in that capacity every day really helped me. It helped me keep my sanity, too,” said McGuire with a chuckle. “I was lucky to be able to do that. It worked out really well for me and Olivia.

“I was learning all the time. Coaching is something I want to do down the line. I always want to be around football in some capacity. It was fun to learn the different terminology, to learn about a different position. That can only help my career as well.

“I’ve talked to Buck a lot during this whole thing and just recently he told me about when he started coaching it helped him a ton to be coaching a different position.”

McGuire played the sponge in ’19, watching every day as Nichols, Streveler and later Collaros prepared, studied and led. He also saw first-hand how preparedness is critical, especially when the depth chart can undergo such dramatic changes.

“Watching how they operated, how they participated in meetings and how they did everything, that’s where I’m trying to get to now as everyone starts to get dialled back in and prepare for a 2021 season,” said McGuire. “We’re going to be getting back to more Zoom meetings and installing plays. That, to me, is some of the most fun stuff of the game.

“I love the strategy. I love the Xs and Os and I’m really looking forward to getting back to that.”

McGuire left Western Illinois as the school’s all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions and attempts and his 9,819 yards passing is second all-time in Missouri Valley Football Conference history. And as a player goes from college to the pros, the mindset grows. It’s not just a game any longer, but a career.

“My mindset is no different than it was last spring,” said McGuire. “I want to continue to earn trust in the locker room with my teammates and with my coaches. I’m going to treat this camp the same as if we had gone forward last year and that’s about showing up and then working to help us win in any way I can.

“I know, as we talked about in the spring, that not a lot of people know about me. That’s fine. I just want the opportunity to continue earn that trust and we’ll go from there.”