“I like it a lot!” Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Ezekiel Rose on exploring photography during 2021 CFL season

On September 5th 2021, in week 5 of the 2021 CFL season, during a game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive tackle Ezekiel Rose tore his ACL. The game he was in would be the first of his professional career, having been signed with the Blue Bombers since the 2019 off-season and through the cancelled 2020 season, but unfortunately it would also be the last game he’d play of the 2021 CFL season.

His time on the field for 2021 may have been up with the injury, but the injury wasn’t going to stop him from being active and bringing his energy to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. On the sidelines for the remainder of the 2021 CFL season, Rose found himself behind a camera, taking pictures of his teammates at practices, and eventually at the Grey Cup as well. “I’m very interactive,” Rose told Jordan Zlomislic of JZ Media in an interview, “so I brought my speaker out to the field for a couple of practices to start out and took pictures of the guys. We didn’t really have a photographer that came to every single practice so I ended up doing it. The coaches were getting into it, telling me to take pictures of certain drills and stuff, and when I started to send the pictures out to guys they all really liked it.” he said, “I was really feeling the photographer thing during the season.”

Zeke Rose’s picture of Alden Darby at the Grey Cup

Getting into photography during the 2021 CFL season helped Rose stay connected with the game of football as well as his Blue Bombers teammates, but it also helped him explore his interest of being a photographer long term more. “I like it a lot,” he said, “I’m always learning, and the best part about it is I can be doing this a long time. It doesn’t take a toll on my body like football would. I would love to stay in photography more when I’m done playing for sure. Would be cool to have a job at a school where I take pictures of all of the sports and be in the background.”

Rose first got into photography while he was playing football and attending West Virginia University. He tells the story to Zlomislic, “I was at a basketball game or something and I saw one of the photographers with 3 or 4 cameras on him so I was like ‘I’m going to take your camera’ and I ended up taking some pictures with it. I did that a couple of times and then once at a women’s soccer game I took a lot of pictures. When he (the photographer) was back home editing he called me over and wanted to show me some of the pictures I took at the game, then he ended up actually giving me one of his cameras and some accessories for it.” Rose went on to use that camera during his time at West Virginia, taking pictures at all kinds of sporting events and fitting into the photographer community in the NCAA. He did so while playing high level football, playing in 25 games, making 42 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 4 pass deflections, 2 interceptions and one forced fumble in the BIG 12 coming from East Mississippi Community College, the original home of the Netflix special “Last Chance U”. Taking pictures at West Virginia, he realized the potential of being a photographer long term, and being able to stay within the game of football past his playing days. The execution of that came in 2021 when he was with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

With professional football being played right in front of him, and talent behind the lens, Ezekiel Rose took the initiative to take pictures of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and ended up taking pictures at the 2021 Grey Cup in Hamilton. Rose is just one of many athletes in the CFL that has been able to explore his opportunities off of the football field while playing in the league. It is great to see, and maybe one day soon, the CFL could see him as the best photographer in the league.

Rose will be a CFL free agent on February 8th, and if not signed by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers prior to that date, will be available to sign with any of the 9 CFL teams. He will be completely healthy from his ACL tear in 2021 and can be a great signing for any team for the team on and off of the football field. Ezekiel Rose, at 25 years old can be a star defensive tackle in the CFL, and can bring energy and creativity to the locker room as well.

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