Former CFL Star Baggs Preparing for NFL

Can Stevie Baggs complete his transition from the CFL to the NFL? Ryan Knowles explains.

Warren Moon, Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia dominated the CFL for years before becoming stars in the NFL. Joe Theisman, Raghib "Rocket" Ismail and Mike Sellers used the CFL to mature before having very successful NFL careers. Marv Levy cut his teeth as the head coach in Montreal before taking the Buffalo Bills to four straight Super Bowls. Cardinals' linebacker Stevie Baggs hopes to be the next CFL success story as he'll look to make an impact for Arizona's pass rush in 2010.

After three straight All-American seasons at Bethune-Cookman, Baggs, nicknamed "Shakespeare" in college, spent time on the practice squad for Detroit and Jacksonville. Baggs then moved north and was a run-of-the-mill player for four seasons in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Saskatchewan until last season. The Ft. Lauderdale native broke out in 2009, tallying 55 tackles, 11 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception. Those efforts earned Baggs Defensive Player of the Week honors on three different occasions.

Baggs has found success off the field as well, organizing a popular youth football camp and starting his own non-profit organization, CETA (Creating Empowerment Through Autonomy), which focuses on empowering youth through measures of independence. Baggs' success on and off the field caught the Cardinals' attention when they signed the enterprising linebacker. Baggs will get an opportunity to help fill the voids left by vacated starters Bertrand Berry and Chike Okeafor.

Given Baggs' turbulent ride back to the NFL, he displays the utmost appreciation for the game and another opportunity.

"This feels like where I belong," Baggs said. "Everything I have been through from high school to this point has been about showing how resilient I am and how much I want to be in this game we chose."

Although many would consider a detour to the Canadian ranks detrimental to a football career, Baggs never lost sight of his goals. He remains committed to playing at the highest level and his doubters fuel his motivation.

"Even when people said I should give up the game I always knew I had the ability to play this game," Baggs added. "Getting a chance to prove that on the highest level, that's all you want."

Baggs will get his chance in Flagstaff later this month and is expected to challenge for a major role at the outside linebacker position. What he does with that chance remains to be seen, but if his personal and professional career trends continue, Baggs' current NFL experience might be described as "star-crossed."

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