The Mr. Irrelevant of the 2008 CFL draft has quietly fashioned himself a solid career.
Offensive lineman Luc Brodeur-Jourdain was the last player taken in that draft, going 48th overall to the Montreal Alouettes. That was despite winning three Vanier Cups at Laval and twice being named a Canadian university football all-star.
But after being released in ‘08 — he returned to Laval to pursue his masters degree in finance — Brodeur-Jourdain rejoined the Alouettes in time for the first of two straight Grey Cup victories (2009-10). That gave the native of Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., who turns 36 on March 17, the rare distinction of three consecutive championship seasons as he celebrated a Vanier Cup crown his final year at Laval.
The six-foot-two, 309-pound Brodeur-Jourdain has been a fixture in Montreak since, despite the Als using first-round picks to select offensive linemen like Dylan Steenbergen (2009), Kristian Matt (2010) David Foucault (2014), Jacob Ruby (2015), Philippe Gagnon (2016) and Trey Rutherford (2018). Last week, Brodeur-Jourdain signed a one-year deal to play an 11th CFL campaign with Montreal in 2019.
“Being Mr. Irrelevant in the CFL or NFL really doesn’t matter,” Brodeur-Jourdain said during a telephone interview Monday. “All that matters is getting the opportunity.
“All getting drafted means is you’re going to get a chance. When you get to camp and you’re the last pick of the draft, I’m telling you that you have to make sure you understand who you’re competing against and know from the get-go you’re going to get fewer chances than these guys.”
And then there’s the importance of being a quick learner.
“I remember playing my first couple of reps against (defensive tackle) Adriano Belli in a game against Toronto,” Brodeur-Jourdain said. “I thought, ‘Who is this dude?’ because you’re facing a man who’s in his 30s and has been playing professional football for nine, 10 years.
“Behind Belli was (middle linebacker) Mike O’Shea. And when we played Winnipeg, (all-star linebacker) Barrin Simpson was there. You’re playing against men who know the league, have played for years, are talented and very very physical. You get to the pro level and you realize it’s totally, totally different.”
Brodeur-Jourdain has started 126-of-167 games with Montreal, seeing action at both guard and centre. Last season he appeared in 13 games, starting three.
Brodeur-Jourdain has been an East Division all-star twice (2012, ‘14), a CFL all-star once (2012) and named Montreal’s top lineman (2013) and outstanding Canadian (2015). In 2017, he received the Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Award, given annually to the layer possessing and demonstrating the attributes of Canada’s veterans.
But success didn’t always follow Brodeur-Jourdain.
“The key to that (Vanier and Grey Cup success) is the surroundings and having to prove you belong there,” he said. “The three years I was in CGEP (Quebec junior college) we were 2-28 and my senior year we went 0-10.
“Once I got to Laval I understood it’s how you embrace the philosophy and challenge of the guys who’ve been through that before you. I had champions in front of me at Laval and I had to match or surpass what they were teaching and showing us.”
Brodeur-Jourdain said that continued once he arrive in Montreal.
“We had guys like Anthony Calvillo, Bryan Chiu, Ben Cahoon, Anwar Stewart, Scott Flory, Dave Mudge and Davis Sanchez,” he said. “We had many talented guys who had knowledge and championships under their belt.
“Once you get there you realize, ‘OK this is what they’ve been doing for 10, 15 years. This is how they’ve become so successful at their craft,’ and you’re just trying to embrace, reproduce and evolve in those surroundings. Through these guys, I understood how to prepare for professional football.”
Brodeur-Jourdain has also learned how to combine football with family as the married father of two sons, aged three and two. He also has a 13-year-old stepson.
“Life never stops moving,” he said with a chuckle. “My wife is a saint, I know.”
Brodeur-Jourdain has always taken his football career one year at a time given nothing is ever guaranteed for a CFL player. As the oldest returning offensive lineman, Brodeur-Jourdain is always keen on mentoring younger players.
“I always thought the biggest goal was to be the best team we could be,” he said. “You’re not going to be a very good team if you’re not willing to share.
“When I was a very young player I was willing to learn everything but once I learned something I was also willing to teach it. Last year, Kristian Matt was the starting centre and I was the backup ready to help any time but behind the scenes I helped the young guys and did everything I could to help us be the best offensive line we could, and that’s what I’ve always done.”