After playing two seasons in Regina, Jordan Herdman-Reed felt like he still belongs on the west coast.
He and his twin brother Justin have a business that trains young athletes here in Surrey, B.C. He also started his CFL career with the Lions in 2017 and played three productive seasons by racking up 95 defensive tackles, 44 special teams tackles and three sacks in 52 games.
The past two years playing for the Roughriders had taught him valuable lessons, even when he suffered an MCL and ACL tear in the second half of the 2021 season. Despite being drained mentally and physically, Herdman-Reed remained optimistic and fought his way back to play eight games in 2022.
“It was almost like disbelief. It was just a routine play. I was going to make a tackle,” Herdman-Reed recalled of the fateful play.
“My teammates and I were playing fast. He dove at my knee, ‘I was like is this really going on right now?’ I tried to get up and it just didn’t feel right.”
“Once the doctor told me it’s possible that I tore my MCL and ACL, that’s the worst thing you want to hear as a football player. I was really devastated, kind of in disbelief and shock. I realized you could only feel sorry for yourself for about 24 hours. I let all the tears and emotions out. Then it was time to get back to work and get the rehab started.”
Within the next eight months, he dedicated his days to getting the full range of motion back, strengthening his leg to full recovery. As he told himself that this pain was only temporary, he got back up and was back on the field ahead of schedule.
“If you stay down on yourself, you could easily give up or quit. I chose to get back on my feet. Just worked hard and it worked out,” he added.
But Herdman-Reed and his twin brother did have something to cherish about playing in Saskatchewan. Jordan said he and his twin had always wanted to play together in the CFL. The linebacker duo turned heads at Simon Fraser University before both going in round seven of the 2017 CFL Draft, Jordan 6oth to the Lions and Justin eight picks earlier to the Toronto Argonauts.
“I enjoyed my time in Saskatchewan. It was a different experience because football is pretty much all they do,” Jordan added.
“I also got to play with my twin brother, which was always something we wanted to do. That setback made me stronger. I had to really see how badly I wanted to keep playing football. I feel even more hungry to play at a high level again.”
Returning to the Lions means that it’s a redemption year for Herdman-Reed. Being in his second home was a significant factor in why he signed with the Lions.
His twin got to experience a trip to the Grey Cup during his rookie season with Toronto and Jordan said he’s trying to even the score with his brother Justin.
“Excited to be back to enjoy B.C., my businesses are out here, it just worked out. I do training with the kids here in Surrey and throughout the province. I know the Lions play Canadian linebackers here, and I could see myself playing a role on the defence. It was just a good move on the field and off the field,” he added.
“My brother’s got one Grey Cup up on me. I want to get one, I’m hungry for one. But ultimately, I just want to have a great year.”
The 28-year-old linebacker who’s heading into his sixth season in the CFL awaits his return in Lions uniform. Despite being away from B.C. for two seasons, he feels right at home and is eager to meet the vets and rookies in about one month — counting down to another training camp in Kamloops.
As he gets his groove back on the west coast, gelling along with other teammates through the club’s community program this offseason like Be More Than a Bystander, Energy Champions, Team Up to End Racism and the I·SPARC youth flag football program, Herdman-Reed is hopeful on his impact for the Lions this season.
“I feel like I’m going to come in with a veteran leadership role, guys that can come talk to if they need something. I know how it is being the young guy coming into the league. I’m excited to take on a leadership role for the younger players and further my career as well,” he said.
“The Lions do a great job in the community. I don’t know if there’s another team that does as much in the community as the Lions. A lot of these kids look up to the Lions players. Their eyes light up with excitement. To go back to the schools and give back, I think it means a lot and the kids get a lot out of it.”