May 29, 2018

Another Team, Another Country

CALGARY, AB - MAY 17, 2018: The Calgary Stampeders Rookie Camp at McMahon Stadium on Thursday. (Photo by Candice Ward/Calgary Stampeders)

Tyler Stoddard is no stranger to playing football in a foreign country.

After graduating from Southeastern Louisiana, the 6-foot-2, 215-lb. linebacker, made the move overseas to keep playing the game he loved.

“I had a labrum surgery after my senior season and I actually almost gave up the game of football,” explained Stoddard. “But I heard about going overseas and playing by a guy that played there before I got to Southeastern.

“He actually played in Italy. He gave me the run-down of how to get out there. I went on the website, made my highlight film and put it up. About two months later, I got invited to go play out in Germany and I spent two seasons out there.”

The southern kid was initially overwhelmed by the new continent, country, and playbook, but he was able to overcome those adversities to excel with the German Football League 2’s Frankfurt Universe.

“It was the same game, but a little different,” said Stoddard. “My first weeks there, it felt like I was on another planet with the new language and all the signs being in German. I felt out of place, but I adapted quickly. It’s still football, no matter where you go.”

During his two campaigns with Frankfurt, Stoddard recorded 122 tackles (22 for loss), five sacks, five interceptions, and a forced fumble.

After his first season with the Universe, while Stoddard was back on home soil, he decided to attend one of the Stampeders open try-outs. Although he returned to Germany for his second year, he made an impression on Calgary’s management and earned an invite for the following season.

“A buddy that I met in Germany in my first year, he played at the University of Utah,” Stoddard said. “I actually took a job in Las Vegas with him and his agent told him about a Stampeders try-out in 2017, so I went to that workout and almost went down to the mini-camp, but I had already signed with my team in Germany. They invited me to IMG this year and then to Calgary.”

For a 25-year old who’s been able to travel the world and play professional football, Stoddard recognizes that while his journey to the CFL is unconventional, it’s an experience he’s lucky to have.

“I’ve definitely been blessed,” admitted Stoddard. “Never in my life did I think that I would live two years out there in Germany and travel around Europe, especially at this age. A lot of people work their whole lives to vacation in the later age, so I’ve been blessed to go out and play the game I love. I wouldn’t trade it for a thing.”

Now having been through 11 days of training camp, including the Red & White Mock Game, he’s ready to play against someone other than his teammates.

He’ll get that chance on Friday as the Stampeders host the BC Lions at McMahon Stadium at 7 p.m.

“I’m just excited to see in the pre-season games how much more fun it is when we can actually tackle people and play the game to its fullest,” said Stoddard.