By Fred Guzman
The NFL is not for everyone, and not everyone is good enough to make it in the NFL, where the average career lasts slightly more than three years.
Two former University of Hawaii standouts have found a way of exending their football careers by pursuing opportunities north of the American border. And both Chad Owens and Solomon Elimimian have flourished in the Canadian Football League.
The 29-year-old Owens is a receiver and return specialist for the Toronto Argonauts. He was unanimously chosen as CFL Special Teams Player of the Year in 2010 after leading the league in total return yards and scoring four touchdowns. He also had 46 catches for 576 yards and three scores.
Owens worked out for four NFL teams during the off-season and says he had firm offer from the New York Jets, turning that down to accept the more sure thing in the form of contract extension from the Argos through the 2013 season.
So far this season, Owens again ranks among the league leaders in returns in addition to having 23 receptions for 291 yards. However, he has yet to find the end zone in 2011.
The 5-foot-7, 180-pounder previously spent time on the rosters of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, who selected him in the sixth round of the 2005 draft, and the Tamp Bay Buccaneers.
Elimimian, a 6-foot, 225-pound middle linebacker, is the league’s reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year as a member of the BC Lions.
Elimimian holds the UH record for career tackles and, as of last week, was leading the CFL with 54 tackles through his team’s first eight games. Another ex-UH linebacker, Adam Leonard, is currently on BC’s injured list.
Signed as an undrafted free agent, Elemimian was released by Buffalo in 2009 and eventually signed with the Lions last year. He went to register 65 tackles in the final 11 games of the season and has firmly established himself as a rising star in the CFL.