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Rob Murphy (Peter Power/Peter Power/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Rob Murphy (Peter Power/Peter Power/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

My Car: Rob Murphy

All-star ride for Grey Cup champion Add to ...

He's one of the top CFL players - he was named the CFL's Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman twice and a CFL All-Star three times and helped the B.C. Lions win the Grey Cup Championship in 2006.

Now Rob Murphy is gearing up for his first season as a Toronto Argonauts player. At 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, he's noted for his nasty disposition on the field. But on the road, it's a different story.

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The father of 11-month-old triplets - Rowan, Grey and Maddox - is a softy who is taking a slower pace in his new 2009 Cadillac Escalade SUV.

"I like the ride of a Cadillac. It feels like you're driving a sofa. It's a nice, smooth ride," says the rugged offensive tackle.

"I've driven Hummers for the last few years. They're really not as practical as you'd think with three babies. It was tough to manoeuvre getting the car seats and the babies in and out of the car.

"Now being in Canada, we're a little more environmentally conscious, so to speak," says the 32-year-old native of Buffalo, N.Y. "We wanted to get away from Hummers. Even though Cadillac SUVs guzzle a lot of gas, it's nothing compared to a Hummer."





I'm 6-foot-5, 315 pounds. There's not a lot of Japanese cars that would fit me very comfortably


When car shopping, he had one requirement: "It had to be black. It's my favourite colour.

"I think it's a prestigious car. I work hard at what I do and I deserve a car that I feel good about driving around town in. I feel like my kids are very safe in it when I'm trucking them around."

Speed is another bonus. "It actually has more get-up-and-go than Hummers I've had in the past. It definitely has power.

"You don't see a lot of Escalades towing stuff, but we have a hitch on the back so we can strap a triple stroller and a bunch of luggage and cargo," says Murphy, who became a free agent on Feb. 16. The Argos snapped him up for a two-year $390,000 deal, making him the CFL's highest-paid offensive lineman. The season's home opening game is July 11.

Luckily speed hasn't landed him in trouble in Canada, but south of the border, it's a different story. He has a home in Jacksonville, Fla.

"The Department of Highway Vehicles in Florida knows me a little bit. I've had a few speeding tickets there - nothing bad. I'm allowed into the state of Florida - nothing horrible," he laughs.

Now that he has kids, Murphy is more cautious on the road; he's not as uptight about his SUV, either. "It's hysterical because we are neat freaks. People come to our house, they can't believe we have triplets. We keep everything clean. But in the car, there are some crushed Cheerios in the carpet, spilt milk - that's why there's leather interior. Thank God, you just wipe that off."

Murphy is hooked on North American cars. "I'm 6-foot-5, 315 pounds. There's not a lot of Japanese cars that would fit me very comfortably.

"I do like foreign cars, but for my comfort, I need a bigger car. For me, foreign cars wouldn't make sense. I'd have to see a chiropractor every time I got out of one."

In the past, he has owned both Ford and GM vehicles - including a Ford Expedition, a few Ford Excursions and two Hummer H2s.

"In high school, I had a Pontiac Grand Am. I was driving to hockey practice at 5:30 in the morning and it snowed. I was driving through a parking lot and I was going faster than I thought. I spun out of control and hit a big snow drift! I screwed up the front of the car.

"It's funny because if my parents read this, they don't know that story," he chuckles. "I told them a story of someone accidentally hitting my car."

Murphy loves the open road. "I love to take road trips. I've crisscrossed the continent numerous times.

"My parents always joked that if I didn't play football or didn't get into the corporate world I'd be a perfect long-haul driver," says Murphy, who sells real estate off season in Florida.

After every season, Murphy always takes a road trip. "This past year, I took one of my teammates from the Lions who wanted to see the U.S. and we drove from Vancouver to Florida.

"For me, it's an annual thing - at the end of the year its time for me to decompress on the ride from wherever my house is at that time. I love driving. I've probably driven across the U.S. at least 10 times!"

On the road and before a CFL game, Murphy gets pumped with music. "I'm a real heavy metal guy - probably not the best music for little kids.

"When the kids are in tow, that DVD player is going; it could be Dora the Explorer or one of the many Nickelodeon DVDs," he says.

"In Vancouver, I'd drive down with the quarterback of the Lions, Dave Dickenson, who is now a coach in Calgary. And he would joke around … he'd always say to the guys, 'I have to put up with Murph's music blaring for the 45-minute drive to the stadium!'

"If you want to get a ride from me, that's what you're going to be listening to."

Murphy has high hopes for another Grey Cup win. But if he gets it, he won't buy an exotic car to celebrate.

"I'm not a big Ferrari, Corvette guy. I'm not into the real speedy cars. It's just not me. It's not my personality. I'm not a 'Hey, look at me.'

"Look at what I'm driving - granted an Escalade is a nice luxury vehicle - but I'm not trying to turn people's heads."

He would, however, go for a German ride. "I'm a fan of BMWs. But even that, just driving friends' BMWs, the only thing that would fit would be one of the big sedans - a 750 or 760.

"I'd like one of those some day, but again in my life right now, it's not the most practical car with three young ones."

globeauto@globeandmail.com

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