13th Man Sports’ Tom Lizardo talked with Winnipeg Running Back Johnny Augustine after he re-signed with the Bombers.
Tom Lizardo: Now that your signed, did you always know you’d be back in Winnipeg or were there other thoughts?
Johnny Augustine: My heart was always in Winnipeg, and it’s still in Winnipeg, but I would say this time around in terms of contracts and free agency, I signed a little bit later than usual. I just wanted to look a little bit more at my options, it took more steps, and it was a little bit tougher.
My heart was in Winnipeg, but I definitely had to evaluate all the options in front of me.
TL: Sure, that makes sense. Obviously, two-time champions, there has been a lot of talk about the culture in Winnipeg. Can you speak about that?
JA: Everyone asks me, “how are you guys able to win back-to-back championships and do all these great things?” I said, “it starts off with the locker room.” It’s the culture that Coach O’Shea, Kyle Walters, and the whole organization, have built.
We’re like a brotherhood in there. It’s not position-by-position, at the end of the day, we’re all brothers. You know, my roommate was the Kicker Marc Liegghio, I play Running Back.
It’s just, the Foundation was built in our locker room. It starts in the locker room, the bond that we have on and off the field. It’s second to none.
TL: Can you talk a bit about working around Andrew Harris the last few years, and how that has helped your development and growth?
JA: Yeah, I remember the day Winnipeg signed me, and I knew Andrew was there and that was a blessing. I couldn’t believe I was being picked up by the team with a guy I looked up to in the league for so many years.
Just to see his day-to-day process, the way he goes about things, being able to see that. I instill that in my own preparation. It has been great, so definitely someone that I have been privileged to play behind.
TL: With him moving on and the club also signing Brady, how much do you know about the team’s plans at running back?
JA: For me, I can’t control how that goes. The only thing I can control is bettering and working on myself. All I know is I am going to come in prepared. I do anticipate running the ball more. That’s my goal and that’s my mindset. I’ve been fortunate enough to be playing special teams and all that sort of stuff.
Well, obviously when you get into the latter part of your career, you want to become a ratio breaker. I don’t know the team’s mindset, I don’t really focus on that. It’s irrelevant to me.
The best thing I can do is come in prepared to get that workload if it’s given to me.
TL: Ben Kramer of Plays and Action has studied players very successfully for many years. He said on social media that he thinks you could be the top back in the league. How do you respond to these types of expectations?
JA: You’re going to hear a lot of things day-in and day out, that’s what makes this game awesome. Because people are going to say things, I love that I get a lot of support and people believe in me. But, I have to block out the noise, put my head down and work away. That will be my mindset.
TL: Can you talk about the CFL and your relationship with the league, being a Canadian player, playing pro football in Canada?
JA: It’s a blessing. I remember my running back coach, CFL legend Neil Lumsden, just hearing his experiences. When I was playing at the University of Guelph, I knew I wanted to play professional football, but when you get to actually live it and be in the moment it’s amazing.
You know people always ask me the question, “would you play in the NFL,” I get that all the time. I say, “I don’t know why I’d give up what I have right now.”
If an NFL opportunity came up, obviously that would be a different evaluation process there and then. But, for me, I think this is a beautiful league, and I want to see this league expand, even when the day comes that I call it quits.
It’s been amazing!
TL: I’m sure a lot of young Canadian players look up to you and say “boy, I’d like to do that someday.”
JA: (Laughing) I remember being on the opposite end (of that), so I would definitely like to see more Canadians pay attention — to see how amazing this game is.
TL: Anything else you’d like to add?
JA: At the end of the day, whoever (is reading this), definitely enjoy the process and enjoy the journey. It’s never going to be all rainbows and all that stuff, but when the opportunity is given to you just make sure you are prepared and enjoy the process. So that’s it, work hard and dedicate yourself to what you’ve got. And, thanks for having me.
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