Argonauts running back Chad Kackert was born in California and went to college in New Hampshire. After going undrafted in 2010, Kackert participated in training camp for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but was ultimately released.
Kackert eventually signed for the Argonauts in 2011, but found himself sixth in the depth chart. However, as a result of hard work and perseverance, things finally came together last season, with Kackert becoming starting running back after the controversial release of Cory Boyd.
The move proved to be a success, with Kackert helping his team reach the 100th Grey Cup, where he was named MVP in the Argonauts 35-22 victory over the Calgary Stampeders. In the first of Blue Toro’s new series of interviews, we sat down with Kackert to ask him about his off-season, last year’s Grey Cup and how close he really was to joining the NFL.
BT: Chad, thank you for taking the time to speak to us. How has your off-season been going?
Chad Kackert: The off-season’s been good thanks. I’ve just been training and making a move up here. I’ve now got my own place in Mississauga, near where we train and I’m just getting settled in.
BT: Jim Barker said you having several offers from the NFL, before ultimately deciding to resign with the Argonauts. How tough a decision was it?
Kackert: It was a really tough decision actually. It involved a lot of back and forth, but when it came down to it and the offers were on the table, it was really about going where people believe in and trust you. Ultimately, there was no question on where that was.
BT: I have to ask, what was the experience like of winning the Grey Cup last season?
Kackert: It was kind of surreal actually. It seemed to happen really fast. We made the playoffs, and after beating Saskatchewan to guarantee a home playoff game, we thought we had a real opportunity to do something special.
It was really exciting. We were 9-9 and who knew what was going to happen. And then everyone seemed to come together for that second period of the Edmonton game, when we set the playoff record for points in a quarter. It was pretty much right there that we set sail, which I guess is a fitting term for an Argonaut! (Laughs)
After that, we knew we had a tough match up in Montreal, but we went there and took care of that. Then, when Ricky (Ray) took the knee, I thought: ‘Wow, we’re going to the Grey Cup in Toronto!’
That week leading up to the game seemed a little longer, just getting ready for it all. I actually had time to enjoy the build up. Then, when it came down to it, for the first time I think since high school, when I ran out onto the field I just decided: ‘I’m going to have fun tonight.’
This wasn’t about winning a job or about making the playoffs or winning the East. We were getting to go and play football for the last time this year, so I had to take advantage of it. I think that’s how everybody felt, so we went out there and kept sailing and the rest was history.
BT: In terms of how you got to this point, I recently shared a photo from a few years ago where you were sixth on the depth chart. I know you always have to have belief in yourself and a lot of mental fortitude, but was there ever a point where you were close to giving up?
Kackert: Well, it was definitely tough. The long story is that I got picked up by Jacksonville and I was last on the depth chart there. I had a lot of good feedback, but I was still cut. Then I went to Calgary and got cut again.
At this point, I then found myself coming to Toronto, where I thought I was wanted, and I was sixth on the depth chart! I was thinking: ‘My God, this isn’t like college’. (Laughs) I mean, I knew I had work to do, but then I was dealing with a hamstring issue and I didn’t think I could run.
I thought maybe I’d done enough in the first preseason game, but then I went on the field in Winnipeg and ran around and could feel the hamstring given me some problems. However, they said I had to still give it a go and play, no matter how good or bad I felt.
So I went and played, but luckily it held up and I had a touchdown run at the end of the game. After that, things just opened up and since then it feels like it’s just been destiny.
BT: I’m sure you don’t want to look too far ahead at the moment, but have you given any thought about your future after you finish playing? Do you think you’ll stay in football or do you have any other plans and ideas?
Kackert: I’ll be honest, it’s kind of all up in the air. I do know I want to keep my family and the ones I love, close. Again, I want to be where I’m wanted and I’m sure it’ll all sort itself out.
BT: Just finally, can you give fans a little bit of an insight into what you like to do in your spare time, whether it be hobbies, relaxing, or whatever.
Kackert: It actually changes a lot, depending on where I am. At the moment, because I’m living on my own, I have a little bit more free time. More recently, I’ve been learning how to cook. I’ve also been teaching myself Polish, partly because my girlfriend’s parents are from Poland.
Outside of training, I’ve actually been watching Lost. I’ve got three episodes to go in the final season. I don’t know how it ends, but I’m looking forward to it, so that’s one great way to waste time!
Other than that, I’m just cooking, but also keeping my place clean and trying to keep my mind fresh. Right now, I’m also transitioning back into studying the plays and getting ready for training camp.
BT: Sounds like you’re definitely keeping yourself busy. I can’t guarantee you’ll like the way Lost ends, but overall, it is a great series. Good luck with the new season and thanks a lot for your time.
Kackert: My pleasure.
Photo credits: www.argonauts.ca
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