Brains & brawn

Jock Climie talks professional football, law and being on the other side of sportsdesk

Jock Climie was a star with both the Golden Gaels and the Montreal Alouettes.
Jock Climie was a star with both the Golden Gaels and the Montreal Alouettes.
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Queen’s students unsure of which degree to pursue or whether they made the right choice are in good company with Queen’s alumnus Jock Climie, ArtSci ’89 and Law ’94. Climie, a former pro athlete and current lawyer and TSN broadcaster, was uncertain about his career path when he first got to Queen’s.

“I distinctly remember—possibly the only thing I can remember about Frosh Week; the rest was the usual blur—sitting in the grass outside of Grant Hall with my Gael group, and the Gaels handing out these forms, passing them around, to choose your major,” he said.

“I looked at this, looked at all these different options and career paths, and drew a complete blank.”

Climie said his original plan to go into medicine vanished after he looked at the courses he would have to take.

“I had sort of always had one eye on being a doctor, and when I saw the list of science courses that I have to take, it suddenly came flooding back how much I hated sciences,” he said.

“I hadn’t actually realized it at that point—I took them in high school because I thought I needed to—and then all of a sudden I had a choice, and I said, ‘I don’t want to take that stuff, I hate it!’ “Right there, sitting on the grass outside Grant Hall, becoming a doctor was out, and I was left with not a whole lot else. So I took economics because it sounded respectable.”

Climie didn’t consider law until late in his university career, he said.

“It wasn’t until my third year of economics that I thought ‘I’m not done school yet, I don’t want to go out in the real world, what seems like a good alternative?’” he said. “I had taken an industrial relations course with Professor [Rick] Jackson, and we did sort of a mock arbitration process where you get to pretend you’re a lawyer for a day. I loved it so much that I applied to law school the next day, and the rest, as they say, is history.”

It took Climie longer than usual to obtain his law degree because he was juggling a pro football career at the same time.

In 1997, Climie won the Lew Hayman Trophy as the top Canadian player in the East Division. He retired in 2001 with 627 catches, putting him in the CFL’s all-time top 10 for catches.

At Queen’s, Climie holds the, third-place all-time position for yards receiving. He also holds the ninth-place position for total touchdowns. In CIS records, Climie sits fourth for all-time yards receiving in a single season and seventh for all-time receptions in a single season, both of which are the product of his 1988 season with Queen’s.

“I got a three-year BA in economics, then went to law school, did one year of law school in my fourth year playing for the Gaels, and then I got drafted by Toronto,” he said. “In 1990, I started my pro football career and then every off-season thereafter, I’d go back to Queen’s and do a semester of law school. ... I did one complete year and then four half-years to get my three-year degree.”

Climie was the fourth-overall draft pick in the CFL college draft in 1990. He played inside receiver for the Toronto Argonauts and the Ottawa Roughriders before settling down to play with the Montreal Alouettes, where he played from 1996 to 2001.

Climie said his experience balancing academics and athletics at Queen’s comes in handy when he’s trying to fit in both legal and television work. As a lawyer, Climie practices labour and employment law; as a TSN studio analyst, Climie sits on a panel with two to three other analysts. The panel discusses the current CFL game during its pre-game and half-time shows.

“The other guys I broadcast with, that’s all they have to do,” he said. “They don’t have to turn the switch on and off. As a student-athlete, I learned to turn the switch on and off.”

His football career­—four years spent playing for Queen’s and 12 years in the CFL—fulfilled one of his life-long ambitions, Climie said.

“Certainly it was a dream of mine since I was five years old,” he said. “My dad played for the Gaels, and I grew up around Queen’s football, so I always dreamed about playing for Queen’s and playing pro football, but like most kids, I thought it was a dream and never really believed it was going to happen until I got drafted. That really pushed me to play as long as I did, because I was living my dream, so to speak. … I could certainly make more money practicing law, but I realized you’ve got one chance to live your dream and play pro football.”

Climie said entering the world of sports telecasts in 2002 was another aspiration of his. “Most every ex-player’s dream is to go into broadcasting once you’re done, because it gives you an opportunity to continue to stay involved with the sport you love, earn some extra revenue obviously, and do something different. It’s a highly sought-after job.’

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