Finally, The Rock decided to talk about his time in the CFL — sort of.
Tuesday night second season premiere of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s NBC sitcom Young Rock spent a lot of time, essentially the last third of the episode, showing the titular character’s CFL debut with the Calgary Stampeders.
There were some factual inaccuracies, like claiming the Stamps were the three-time defending champions when Johnson arrived with the team in the summer of 1995, but otherwise the show did a good job of showing what the game would look like. life of a beginner American.
Johnson has never shied away from talking about his struggles adjusting to the CFL and it really shows in this part of the episode. He lines up offside not knowing that as a defensive tackle he has to line up one yard from the ball and is on the pitch when he shouldn’t be, not knowing the pitch is bigger, and complains to the coaches that the attack has 12 men.
There was also era-appropriate gear, with the old CFL helmet logo on the Stampeders kit that players and coaches wore. It even looked like the production team had found or recreated a hat that looked almost exactly like the one you’d see Wally Buono wearing.
Young Rock isn’t the first show to go the extra mile when it comes to recreating what the CFL looked like in the past. The Excellent Hulu Show Pam and Tommy, about the sex tape scandal surrounding Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee in the mid-1990s, did the same with recreated footage of a BC-Edmonton game where Anderson got his big break. Both shows deserve kudos for doing the work to make the scenes look authentic.
The show also cast actors to play three Stampeders that almost everyone reading this will know: Doug Flutie, Jeff Garcia, and Buono. Flutie’s revelation was a legitimate moment of laughter for yours truly. The episode also showed real Stampeders highlights, with Flutie and Allen Pitts being the standout players featured.
This part shows Johnson’s bragging when, according to the show, he told reporters on the first day of camp that the Stampeders were going 18-0. I have not been able to verify whether the future most electrifying man in all of entertainment actually made this statement, which the show claims was published in the June 10, 1995 edition of the Calgary Sun.
The same episode highlights the unglamorous life of an American rookie in the CFL. Johnson is forced to share a small apartment with his teammates and find a used mattress on the street.
It ends when Johnson is told by Buono that he will earn 350 loonies when he is on the practice squad versus the $55,000 he would have earned had he been on the squad. Johnson tells his then-girlfriend Dany Garcia that he plans to hold on, quit the practice squad and join the active roster while using it as a stepping stone to the NFL.
With more ground to cover in The Rock’s CFL career, we can expect to see more of Johnson’s CFL time in future episodes.
If you’re worried that the CFL won’t be treated with respect or as a joke, fear not. Although jokes are made, it is a sitcom after all, the show and Johnson give the league the respect it deserves. If anything, it’s The Rock, not the CFL, who’s made to look silly.
Honestly, the Flutie thing is incredibly funny. If you don’t laugh, I’ll be surprised.