Volume 93, Issue 20
October 1, 1999
Remembering the Mustangs of yesterday
Gazette file photo
By Wes Brown & Chad Thompson
It's a long road from Western to the National Football League, but it's the one former Mustang Tim Tindale chose to take.
Tindale, fullback for the Mustangs from 1990 to 1994, returns to Western this weekend as part of the final Homecoming ceremonies at J.W. Little Memorial Stadium.
When asked about his feelings upon returning, Tindale said he was torn. While he loves coming back to his old stomping grounds, he'd also love to be free of his knee injuries and return to the field.
"I have mixed feelings because if I was still playing, I wouldn't be coming back," he said.
Tindale's former coach Larry Haylor said Tindale is the only two-time Hec Crighton Trophy winner in Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union history and if he hadn't fractured his leg in 1992, he would have been a three-time recipient.
"I always said Tim would be the guy I would pick first if I had to choose a team. At 5'11", 220 [pounds], he had very unique talents. He's one of those guys who will give you his soul in effort," Haylor said.
In 1994, after graduating from the kinesiology program, Tindale tried out for the Buffalo Bills as a free agent and made the squad. "It was an unbelievable life experience," he said.
As Buffalo is one of the larger football squads in the NFL, Tindale said at first he had to adjust to the new surroundings. "It was a shock at first with all the hype surrounding the team," he said. "It wasn't a big deal after the first few years."
With rumours of the treatment of Canadian players in the NFL filtering through fans and players alike, Tindale had the inside scoop and his pleasant experience contradicted the stereotypes. "On my first day of mini-camp, [Buffalo Bills coach ] Marv Levy came up to me and knew my name and all my stats. He was the head coach and he knew everything about me."
Tindale said the first exhibition game he played in a Bills uniform is a memory he'll never forget. "I remember walking down the tunnel and not knowing what to expect. There was a crowd of 70,000 people there to see a football game."
Haylor said he remembers watching Tindale's first NFL touchdown while on vacation. "We were huddled around a 7-inch TV screen. Tim broke a run for 44 yards and my wife and I were jumping up and down, cheering and screaming. People came storming into our room to see what was wrong."
Tindale said the hardest thing about his time spent playing in the NFL was leaving prematurely because of his injuries. "I loved working hard and the competition in the NFL," he said. "Having to retire tore me apart inside, it kept me awake at night."
He added his greatest memory at Western was a comeback victory over Wilfred Laurier University in 1991. "Laurier was ahead by a lot of points but we were able to come back in the second half. Personally, it was not my best game but the feeling of coming back was great."
Haylor reflected on another memory which summed up the heart Tindale put into every game. "It was third and three and we decided to go for it. The offence made a bad call and Tim took the ball and got hit by three people immediately. He spun off them, got hit again and then the next thing you knew he was down the field. Any other back would have taken a three yard loss."
With all the awards Tindale received during his playing career, the one thing missing from his impressive collection is a Vanier Cup. "In one second I would trade it all in for a Vanier Cup," he said. "As a player you strive for championships not individual honours. It is a great honour anytime you receive [The Hec Crighton], but what I wanted was a Vanier Cup."
When he learned the stadium was going to be torn down and replaced, Tindale said he would miss everything about the old field. "I believe in old time football. I like the stadium and the tradition."
Through all his experiences, Tindale has only one regret about his career. "The way I played is a reflection of my injuries. I would not change the way I played. My only regret is that I did not play as long as I wanted."
When it comes to advice for current Mustang fullback Fabian Rayne and his dream of playing in the NFL, Tindale said not to let anyone get in the way. "If your goal is the NFL, you can't let anyone [say] you can't or let anyone stop you," he said. "Set your goals and try to get them."
Copyright © The Gazette 1999