Bergman retires after seven stellar seasons with Stampeders

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There’s no question that Norfolk County’s Shane Bergman could play a couple more years of CFL football.

He was an all-star in 2019, after all. And there will always be jobs for Canadian offensive linemen with the elite skill-set that Bergman brings to the field.

But Bergman is getting older and he’s got a young son, Asher, at home. Priorities change, and after taking his time to think about what he wanted to do with the next couple years of his life, Bergman announced his retirement this week.

“It was time,” Bergman said “It took a long time but with COVID, I had some time. With having my son grow and watching him take his first steps and say his first word, I knew I just wanted to be home and didn’t want to really travel out there anymore.

“I’m 30-years-old and I’ve started a lot of football games and I’ve got aches and pains that I feel already. My body will thank me and I know this is the right decision.”

Bergman leaves the Stampeders with an incredible legacy, especially for a guy who was selected in the sixth-round of the 2013 CFL Draft. There are rarely any guarantees with players drafted that late, and Bergman’s career surpassed even the most optimistic expectations.

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He began making an impact at left-guard in his second season, winning a Grey Cup with the Stamps in 2014. He would go on to start 102 games between 2014 and ’19 and became one of the most underappreciated offensive linemen in the CFL before being named a West Division and CFL All-star in his final year.

While it can be hard to quantify the impact that a left guard has on the game, Bergman’s teammates are happy to explain what made him special. There might not be anyone more aware of Bergman’s impact than Derek Dennis, who played left tackle next to Bergman for much of the past half-decade.

“We called him ‘Mount Berg’ for a reason,” Dennis said. “He was just a mountain of a man. He was one of those guys you want to walk off the bus first to try and intimidate the other team, but what made Shane so great was he was super athletic. Way more athletic than people gave him credit for, and he was just a technician. You knew every time he stepped on the field he was going to go hard, he was going to do his job 100 per cent and he was going to be the toughest dude to beat … He just got to the point where there was nobody who could beat him or get him off his mode. He never got too high, never got too low. He just had the respect.

“Honestly, without Shane Bergman nobody knows who the Bonecrusher (Dennis’ nickname) is. Shane made that transition to the CFL so seamless. It was so easy to play next to him.”

Bergman had planned to return to the Stampeders to play another season in 2020, but COVID-19 made that impossible.

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By the time it came time to make a decision about 2021, his priorities had shifted to his young family and taking the next step in his life. Farming will likely be a part of that, but Bergman said he has some “irons in the fire” and wants to try out another career path, too.

Quick to credit Stamps offensive co-ordinator and o-line coach Pat DelMonaco, as well as Dennis, Brad Erdos and Ucambre Williams with helping him become the dominant force he turned into, there’s no question Bergman will miss playing CFL football.

He’s content, though, with a career that surpassed every expectation.

“I feel very satisfied,” Bergman said. “I was a sixth-round pick and like (Stamps president/GM John Hufnagel) said, I was a project when he first drafted me. I had no idea how to play football when I got there and I learned how to play. A lot of great things happened. I won two Grey Cups, made a lot of friends and it was awesome competition.

“I couldn’t have had a better time.”

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