From the football field to the oil field: Trinidad Drilling’s CFL connection

Jay McNeil, Trinidad’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, played 14 seasons in the CFL. (Photo courtesy of the Calgary Stampeders.)
Jay McNeil, Trinidad’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, played 14 seasons in the CFL. (Photo courtesy of the Calgary Stampeders.)

Canadian drilling is busiest in the winter; the Canadian Football League plays from June to Nov. These complimentary seasons allowed former CFL offensive lineman Jay McNeil to work with Trinidad Drilling the last three years of his 14-year career with the Calgary Stampeders.

“You have to have some understanding bosses,” said McNeil, who retired from the CFL in 2007 and is now Trinidad’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “During the season, I would work part time. If I had a day off from football, I came into work. We would practice from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day, and then I would come into work in the afternoon.”

“Once the (football) season was over, I worked full time like everyone else.”

With the CFL season about to ramp up, we thought we’d look back at McNeil’s prolific athletic career and find out if the football field and the oil field are really that different. 

Looking back: 14 seasons with the Calgary Stampeders

McNeil spent his entire career with the Stampeders, from 1994 to 2007, and helped his team win two Grey Cup titles, in 1998 and 2001 (for our non-Canadian readers, the Grey Cup is the Super Bowl of Canadian football).

The Grey Cup victories were “the top two highlights of my career,” McNeil said.

McNeil, who attended Kent State University in Ohio before joining the CFL, also earned countless individual accolades and was named to the All-Canadian team three times.

Where is McNeil now?

Trinidad Drilling's Jay McNeil, VP of Sales and Marketing, speaks at the 2015 CAODC Safety Awards.
McNeil speaks at the 2015 CAODC Safety Awards.

Almost eight years after retiring from professional sport, McNeil is still involved in the game as the Vice President of the CFL Players Association. Plus, he holds a VP title on Trinidad’s team, where he leads the sales and marketing group and uses the skills he learned on the offensive line to keep Trinidad driving forward as a company.

“Football taught me the value of hard work, No. 1, and perseverance and teamwork – I would say football is the ultimate team sport. All three of those things translate into the sales world,” he explained.

On the football field, McNeil guarded his quarterback. Now, he uses the leadership skills he learned with the Stampeders to promote safety and protect Trinidad’s team.

Safety and leadership go hand in hand. And obviously football taught me a lot about leadership,” he said.

Looking forward to this season

At the beginning of the football season, players are often asked about their goals for the days ahead. So, to harken back to his playing days, we asked McNeil about his goals for the next year.

“I have high expectations for my team and for us as a company. It’s hard to predict what the summer and winter drilling seasons are going to bring right now, because of commodity pricing, but our goal – no matter what – is to be an industry leader in terms of utilization and profitability,” he said.

At Trinidad Drilling, it’s about what happens in the field

Trinidad prides itself on operating top performing drilling rigs, and delivering when you hit the field is something McNeil knows all about.

“I came from a world where you have to prove you’re worth keeping around every day,” said McNeil. “Trinidad is known for performance, and that’s something we try to exemplify every day.”

Learn more about what makes Trinidad a winning team.

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