The Calgary Stampeders were ready for prime time this week.
That’s because the Stamps and Calgary, were the focus of Tuesday’s episode of Young Rock, an NBC sitcom based on the early years of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
It’s no secret that Johnson has a strong Calgary connection, and the season premiere of the series paid hilarious tribute to Johnson’s short time as a Stampeder.
“After not hearing my name called by the NFL draft,” said Young Rock in the episode, “I was signed by the Calgary Stampeders.”
And art imitated life, as the real-life rookie told CTV News’ Glenn Campbell in a 1995 interview.
“As one of the newest members what do you have to say to the fans?” Campbell asked young Dwayne Johnson, an aspiring defensive tackle.
“Now we gotta do that here, go 18 and 0, go all the way to the Grey Cup November 19th!” Johnson told Campbell.
Tuesday on the show, Young Rock was asked the same question.
“We’re going 18 and 0, wooo!” he said.
‘ITS AN ADJUSTMENT’
The Rock didn’t exactly thrive in his brief stint as a CFL player.
“It’s an adjustment (for players),” said Stampeder historian Darryl Slade. “I think a lot of American players have (to make one) when they come up here. I mean, the field is bigger in Canada. There’s one more player on the field.”
Stampeder historian Darryl Slade
While he struggled to make a dent in the CFL, Slade thinks Johnson’s Calgary experience clearly stuck with him.
“I think he liked the people and the city itself,” Slade said. “If he had stayed around, he probably would have made a good CFL career.”
The show also had fun with the CFL’s famously low salaries.
“Practice guys make 350 a week,” said the actor playing coach Wally Buono in Tuesday night’s episode.
“Dollars?” asked Young Rock.
“Loonies,” said fake Buono.
“The CFL is not known for high salaries,” Slade said. “Dwayne and about five or six guys were staying in one of the rooms in the motel village (near McMahon Stadium).”
Through flashbacks, fans got a glimpse of memories with coach Wally Buono, as well as teammates Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia, both of whom went on to have successful NFL playing careers.
“I think it’s really nice to see that being featured down in the U.S.,” said Slade, who wrote a book about the history of the Stampeders.
The episode was a tribute to a city and team that left an indelible impression on the former WWE wrestling star who went on to be one of Hollywood’s top movie stars – and named his production company, which produces the show Seven Bucks because Johnson said that’s how much money he had when he left Calgary.
The rumour is that there will be more Calgary Stampeders on next week’s episode.