He is the longest-serving Roughrider and a fan favourite, but Rob Bagg still considers himself a bit of an underdog.
The 32-year-old receiver was not selected in the 2007 CFL Draft, the Riders instead opting to sign him after the draft was over. It’s something that still bugs him ten years later.
“The fact that I was wasn’t drafted still burns me today because I know I was one of the best Canadian receivers in college,” he said after a morning practice at training camp in Saskatoon this week.
Though it’s Bagg who got the last laugh. His decade in the CFL has outlasted all the other receivers taken in the 2007 draft, save one: former Riders teammate and current Edmonton Eskimo Chris Getzlaf.
“I’m proud to say me and (Getzlaf) are still the only Canadian receivers playing right now from that draft. The other nine or eight guys that they took ahead of us, it just goes to show that sometimes the experts aren’t always right,” Bagg said.
In going undrafted, Bagg said he has a greater appreciation for what he’s accomplished and what he needs to bring to camp each and every year to make the team.
“I never really felt like a lot of people believed it me,” he admitted. “So, it was kind of easy to find that motivation to work hard as an underdog, and I continue to have those same internal feelings.”
But Bagg has made proving the experts wrong a bit of a habit over the years. There were many that thought he would never play football again after three separate knee injuries.
Bagg said he used his doubters to push himself harder.
“I love it, to be honest with you, I love reading in the paper and everything when someone says you can’t do something,” he said.
“I’m proud to say that I am (still standing) and even prouder to say that I feel better than ever. I’m faster I’m stronger, more confident than ever and it’s fun to go out there with guys 10 years younger than you and show them that you still have it.”
And he does still have it.
Bagg caught for four touchdowns and 658 yards last season, numbers that have stayed consistent throughout his time in the CFL and that he hopes will keep him a lifelong Rider.
“I know when I look back on my career regardless what happens in the next couple years … I know deep down I’ll be a Rider for life,” he said.
“I love it here, I love the community and I certainly hope that’s what happens.”