Chronic sleep disorder hasn't stopped Vaughn
August 20, 2005
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CREDIT: DAVE SIDAWAY, THE GAZETTE
"If I lose focus on certain things, I tend to drift off and nod off quite often," Alouettes receiver Terry Vaughn, shown here being tackled by the Toronto Argonauts' Clifford Ivory after making catch during game this season. "It's not something I try to do."
Terry Vaughn was up at the crack of dawn yesterday - a day off for the Alouettes - to get in a round of golf at The Challenger with several of his teammates. After lunch, he returned home and settled into his bed for a power nap.
And it had nothing to do with his getting up early or the previous night's game against the Calgary Stampeders.
The 33-year-old slotback, in his first season with Montreal, suffers from a mild form of narcolepsy - a chronic sleeping disorder with wide-ranging symptoms, including severe daytime drowsiness. It isn't uncommon for Vaughn, in his 11th CFL season, to fall asleep during team meetings or film review sessions.
Fortunately, sleep has never been an issue during games, and Vaughn caught seven passes for 100 yards - including a 39-yarder and one touchdown - in a losing cause against the Stamps. With 12,412 career yards, he became the fourth-leading receiver in league history, surpassing Don Narcisse.
"If I lose focus on certain things, I tend to drift off and nod off quite often," Vaughn admitted. "It's not something I try to do.
"I'm kind of unique," he added. "I can go to sleep literally at the snap of a finger. If I'm tired or exhausted, I can go to sleep that quickly."
Vaughn has slept through alarms. Seldom does he remain awake during team flights. When the lights are turned off in a room, his symptoms are triggered.
The condition was diagnosed while Vaughn - drafted by the New York Yankees - starred for the University of Arizona. One night, while driving home at
2 a.m., Vaughn fell asleep for 10 or 15 minutes at an intersection. Miraculously, he put the car's transmission in park before nodding off.
"The officer tapped on my window with his nightstick, waking me up," Vaughn remembered. "I told the police who I was and they followed me home. That was the end of it."
Alarmed nonetheless, Vaughn huddled with the team's trainers and they sent him to see a doctor.
"When I had that first incident it scared me," he said.
Vaughn takes no medication and doesn't plan to unless his condition deteriorates.
With 39 receptions for 474 yards, he is nearly halfway to his 11th consecutive 1,000-yard season, a feat that never has been accomplished in the CFL. That he has done so despite standing only 5-foot-9 and weighing 205 pounds is all the more remarkable.
Vaughn has succeeded with a series of shifty moves and soft hands. He's smart, strong, quick, durable and reliable, often beating double and triple coverage. He's most effective gaining yards after the reception.
"Coming out of college, I aspired to play pro in the NFL," he said. "Honestly, I thought I'd play two years. I'm a fairly simple person. I wanted to play and make enough money to pay for a home. That was my goal. Twelve, 13 years later, I'm still playing. I wouldn't say I'm lucky, but I do take care of my body. I never drink or smoke, and get the most out of my body."
Age is beginning to creep up on the veteran. He was bothered by knee, ankle and rib injuries last season and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last spring. Nonetheless, when he was pitched to the Als last April by Edmonton, Montreal general manager Jim Popp sat up and took notice, hoping Vaughn's presence would compensate for the losses of Jeremaine Copeland and Thyron Anderson.
A trade was completed during the Canadian college draft: Vaughn came east with a draft choice for backup safety William Loftus.
Vaughn is still trying to get in sync with quarterback Anthony Calvillo and has yet to feel totally comfortable.
"To me, catching balls and running the routes is a piece of cake," he said. "But I feel I'm not in my rhythm yet."
There would be no better time than on Friday, when Vaughn returns to Commonwealth Stadium against the Eskimos. Vaughn spent six seasons with Edmonton and the inconsistent Alouettes, now 4-4, run the risk of falling below .500 - again - as they reach the halfway mark of the schedule.
"To be quite honest, I want to win, no doubt, and play well and dominate," Vaughn said. "It's my old team. Of course, I want us to play well as a team."
Â© The Gazette (Montreal) 2005