nstead, he figured any opportunity was better than none.
“That’s the biggest thing you need, no matter who you are. If you don’t get that opportunity, the level of talent you have and can showcase doesn’t matter. That’s what you don’t control, the opportunity,” Brodeur-Jourdain told the Montreal Gazette by telephone Thursday from Ottawa.
“I was just getting the chance to show what I could do.”
Released by the Als that year, he returned to Université Laval for his final season of eligibility, worked on his weaknesses, returned in 2009 and has been a fixture on Montreal’s offensive line since, defying the odds, considering where he went in the selection process.
For that, and myriad other reasons, Brodeur-Jourdain on Thursday night was named this year’s recipient of the Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Award, part of the Canadian Football League’s awards ceremony presentation at the Shaw Centre.
The Gaudaur trophy, named after the league’s longest-serving Commissioner, who also served in the Second World War, has been presented annually since 2010 to a non-import CFL player who best demonstrates the attributes of Canada’s veterans — strength, perseverance, courage, comradeship and contribution to Canadian communities.
The nominees are chosen by their respective teams. The recipient is selected by a committee. This marked the second consecutive year in which Brodeur-Jourdain was nominated.
“Getting the nomination was impressive. It’s a big mark of recognition,” the St-Hyacinthe native said. “It’s some sort of a thank you for being who you are. You don’t need that in life, but it’s a good feeling when you get that.”
Brodeur-Jourdain twice has accompanied fellow CFL players to Afghanistan in support of Canadian troops. He has been active in the community and is a pillar of the team’s Together at School program, encouraging youths to pursue their education. He’s involved with the MIRA Foundation, which pairs disabled individuals with guide dogs, and has participated in Défi-Vision, guiding a visually-impaired race car driver on a track. Brodeur-Jourdain regularly assists local charities and minor football organizations as well.
He made 97 consecutive starts at centre before suffering a debilitating knee injury at Edmonton late in the 2015 season. But with the Als still in playoff contention, he remarkably played through the injury.
“Who am I? I’m just doing what I think is right all the time,” he said. “Being a pro athlete … as soon as you have a public face, whether you’re an athlete, singer or actor, you have the (responsibility) to go to schools, hospitals or become involved with foundations. If I was a financial adviser, I couldn’t just walk into a school and tell my story. When you’re an athlete, you get that possibility.
“The bottom line is you’re affecting lives in a positive way.” added Brodeur-Jourdain, who returned to school early in his pro career, obtaining his master’s degree in finance.
Although Brodeur-Jourdain is under contract to the Als in 2018, he turns 35 this March and is part of the league’s oldest roster, one that must become significantly younger, according to general manager Kavis Reed.
“It’s not something I like to say, but I’m part of the problem as well,” Brodeur-Jourdain admitted. “Football’s a sport for the young.
“As long as they want me, they’ll get me. If they need me, I’ll be there in training camp. If I’m not good enough, I’m done.”
Brodeur-Jourdain becomes the third Als player to win the Gaudaur award, joining Jeff Perrett (2015) and Shea Emry (2013).
Another Montreal veteran player, linebacker Kyries Hebert, was the East Division nominee as the most outstanding defensive player. However, the honour went to Calgary linebacker Alex Singleton. This marked the third time in four seasons an Alouette was nominated — and lost — in that category.
While Hebert had an outstanding season, he was part of a last-place team that allowed a league-high number of points. He was hardly surprised to lose.
“I plan on losing and I don’t like to lose,” he said before the ceremony. “I didn’t get to put my best season against him. It was my best season, but it could have been so much better had I played a full season in the defence in which I started, with a coordinator (Noel Thorpe) using me the way I was being used.
“I wish I could have put my best game against (Singleton’s) and let’s see what would have happened.”