Raghib ‘Rocket’ Ismail on life as a Toronto Argonaut | CBC Sports

Raghib ‘Rocket’ Ismail on life as a Toronto Argonaut | CBC Sports

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I was, “The bigger, son, the better,” I figured. [“Let’s go!” Sound of football being caught. “Get the step, now, get the step!”] Reporter: This multi-million-dollar man has only been practising Canadian football for a month. Yet he’s receiving more attention than any
other player in the entire game, including the NFL. The Rocket says he’s been the centre of attention
for almost a decade. Ismail: After my Sports Illustrated cover. After we talked about my sophomore year. After I was on television in my freshman year
in college, people treated me differently. In high school, after I started doing well,
people treated me differently. Reporter: Ismail has never played a professional
football game, only college ball. But during his time at the University of Notre Dame, sports writers called him the most dangerous and exciting offensive performer in all of
college football. He broke over a dozen records, including some
in track. Last week during practice, he set a new CFL
record. He ran the 40 yards in 4.21 seconds, a time
Ben Johnson could find hard to beat. Ismail: This is what the deal is: I feel that
it’s gonna be, like, people are going to be curious, like you said. They’re going to want to see
“What’s he all about?” But I feel, in the meantime, while they’re
at the game, they’re going to say, “Hey, wait a minute! That guy over there’s pretty good! That person over there. That’s a good team! What the heck are we doing at home all this
time?” Reporter: Nobody knows for sure yet if the
Rocket is worth the $26 million that the Argos are paying him, but it appears everybody wants
to find out. Sales for the Argos’ first exhibition game
are up by 15,000 over last season. The Argos admit it’s all due to the Rocket. Despite all the attention he’s getting on
and off the field, the Rocket is finding life as the most highly-paid rookie in professional
sports at times overwhelming. But when things get a little too rough he
looks to his hero for strength. And that hero is his mum. Ismail: When my father passed away, she used to have to work three jobs and everything to try to make it where it was comfortable for my brothers and I. And I remember when she used to be beat and tired and still used to have to get up at crazy hours to go to work. I remember thinking to myself, like, “Heck, if she can do this I’m sure I can come back from practice and put a couple of hours into the books before I go to bed or something, even though my
body’s killing me, I’m sore, I’m tired, whatever.” Reporter: From here on in, the Rocket is going
to work hard at his game in order to take care of his mother and family. Off-camera: Heels together. Could you turn the overhead down? Reporter: It’s the work off the field that’s
starting to bother him. Take last Friday. Five interview sessions, two two-hour practices,
and a late-night shoot with Sports Illustrated. Ismail says it’s like this seven days a week. Ismail: The media, they can only say so many
good things about you. And then they’re going to want something different. So they’re going to want to dig up some dirt
and it’s, like, I mean, I’ve seen it so many times. It’s like the same old story everywhere you
go, you know? But hey. Life flies by and it’ll all be over soon,
so I’ll be looking forward to that. Reporter: Do you have any dirt you want to
get out of the way? [laughing]
Ismail: I don’t have any dirt. No skeletons. Whoomp. Bones flying out of my mouth and stuff!

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