Offensive lineman Brandon Revenberg of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats is a five-year CFL veteran. He's played in the Grey Cup, the pinnacle of Canadian football, the past two seasons. Twice, he's been named the East Division's Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman.
So it might come as a surprise that a career in professional football was the last thing on his mind, even while he was played U.S. college football at Grand Valley State.
"It wasn’t really until my last year at Grand Valley that I had CFL scouts talking to me and I realized that I could play this professionally," Revenberg said.
Instead of taking the all-too-common approach in today's youth sports culture of being laser-focused on one game, Revenberg instead insists that his focus was on being a kid.
"When I was younger, there wasn’t any sport that I wouldn’t play. I think we spent all our time outside, me and my brother and if there was an actual sport to play, we’d create some sort of game. Growing up, it was definitely hockey and soccer, volleyball, track and field - whatever I could do. I was playing hockey, I enjoyed it. I wasn’t really good at it but I was having fun.
"I didn’t get into football until Grade 7 or 8."
Revenberg played his high school ball in Southwestern Ontario for the Essex Red Raiders. But even at that stage, he still was just playing for fun and the love of the game. In his mind, it was never a means to an end.
"Once I got into high school, that’s when I started to focus more on football but instead of just playing high school football and travel football, what I did was play high school football and then in the offseason I would train and live life as a kid," Revenberg said.
"For me, only playing in high school, it gave me the opportunity to get a summer job, a weekend job," Revenberg said. "That was another way for me to get out, make some money, meet some new people. Try your hand at different jobs, see what you enjoy and what you want to do for a career when you get older."
Revenberg wasn't viewing football as a potential career, yet he still did more than enough to impress college recruiters, earning his scholarship to Michigan's Grand Valley State.
Certainly, the atmopshere there was more football focused, but the players were still given time to be away from the game both physically and mentally.
"You still have a bit of down time to give your body a little time to recover, to get away from the sport mentally and really just be a kid and have some fun," Revenberg said. "I had multiple teammates who were doing track and football and some were doing baseball and football as well."
Revenberg knows he's been blessed with a special gift. Of all kids who play sports, perhaps one percent will be prove to be talented enough to play college sports, let alone make it in the pros.
"I didn’t think anything about playing professionally," Revenberg said. "I was just doing it for the fun of the game, being a kid and living life. I feel like far too much now you’ll see kids trying to make it to the NHL and they’re still in grade school.
"I feel like people can make it later in life, so why not just be a kid and live your life and kind of let the chips fall where they may when you get a little bit older?"
He followed that path and it's working out just fine.