May 7, 2017

Top pick’s dad born to love CFL

Dr. Ken Colling’s medical office was located on Main Street, not so far from old Ivor Wynne Stadium as the football flies.

“So we’d just park the car at my dad’s office when I was a kid and walk over,’’ Kirby Colling is recalling from his home in Holland, N.Y., a 35-minute drive south of downtown Buffalo.

“We had season tickets. Went to all the games. My dad, he was a big, big Tiger-Cat fan.

“So, naturally, I was, too.”

The decades have flown by since the Colling family packed up and moved from Steel City to outside Buffalo, N.Y. Kirby grew up, got into law – “Everything from real estate law to matrimonial” – got married, raised a family.

After arriving in Buffalo, proximity turned the NFL Bills into the team of choice.

But that Tiger-Cat lure lingered. The early ones, the when-you’re-a-kid ones, always do.

The son of the doctor who’d been taught the Tabbies’ signature chant by his father in turn passed it on to his Buffalo-born boy Randy, the way you hand down a family heirloom:

“Oskie Wee Wee

Oskie Waa Waa

Holy Mackinaw

“Tigers… Eat ’em RAW!!”

Sunday, the long-ago, growing-up Tiger-Cat supporter’s football-playing son Randy, now a 26-year-old, 6-foot-2, 315-pound D-lineman with the Arena league’s Cleveland Gladiators, was selected sixth overall by the Calgary Stampeders in the annual CFL draft.

Colling graduated from Gannon University five years ago and has spent the last three seasons in the Arena league.

Like middle linebacker Alex Singleton, such a find as a starter during his freshman season last year, Colling is a U.S.-born talent with a Canadian family connection that resulted in dual citizenship.

“I know he has the ability,’’ says his dad. “And I think this is essential for his career at this point. Unfortunately, Randy came through a Division II school. The NFL just doesn’t have the time to teach you anything that you don’t know.

“If you don’t come from a big Division I school and they say ‘Do this drill’ or ‘Show me this technique’ and you don’t know, it’s ‘See ya.’

“From the quick homework I’ve been able to do, the Stampeders seem like a great club and the city seems to be a great destination for him.

“They just had one bad game, right? At the end of the year.

“Back when I was a kid, I must admit, I certainly wasn’t a Calgary fan.’’


“Am now.”

In May of 2014, the CFL collective bargaining agreement changed to allow Canadian citizens to qualify as nationals. Which swung the door of opportunity wide open for both Singleton and, now, Colling.

“I wish I knew sooner he could’ve done this,’’ admits his dad, who still reportedly wears a Ticats winter coat and has a Darren Flutie jersey somewhere in the house. “We’d have initiated something a couple years ago. It was a long process.

“But I didn’t – and he didn’t – realize it was option he could actually pursue.”

At Quicken Loans Arena, known locally as The Q, Randy Colling shared digs with athletic royalty, King (LeBron) James, and last year earned all-star status with the Gladiators.

“We never missed any game that was near us, whether it would be in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh,’’ says his dad. “Anywhere that was drivable, we made sure we got there.

“He has a fairly big family and a fairly big fan base so whenever he played close to home, plenty of people were there.”

And Calgary?

“Never been out that way,’’ Kirby confessed. “But I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”

Stampeders GM John Hufnagel swung a deal with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to move up from the eighth slot to No. 6 in order to choose Colling.

“He got into the draft a little later than everyone else did,’’ critiqued Hufnagel. “He graduated a few years ago, had a very productive college career and then went and played Arena football, an all-star in that league.

“Big man, powerful man. He can push the pocket, get penetration and give us great depth.”

The whole Colling family can’t wait.

“Randy’s been to Hamilton a couple times, but never for a football game,’’ says Kirby. “So this is, in a way, kind of like going home again, to Canada.

“I’m just very, very excited he has this opportunity.

“And my dad … I’m sure he’s thrilled. He’s been gone 14 years now but I know he’s so happy. The only thing better is if he’d gone to Hamilton.

“But I’m sure that noise you’re hearing is him up in heaven, dancing.”.