Garrett McIntyre signs with Hamilton Tiger-Cats |

Garrett McIntyre signs with Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

The pro football world has been watching Garrett McIntyre.

When McIntyre became an unemployed defensive end late last year after the Arena Football League canceled its 2009 season, the former South Tahoe High football player thought his playing career was done.

But someone in the Canadian Football League took note of McIntyre’s availability. Not even two months after being out of work with the San Jose Sabercats, McIntyre hooked on with the Cats of the CFL ” the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

“There weren’t a lot of options at the time when I heard that the arena league was canceling their season,” McIntyre said. “The CFL has been established for over a 100 years, and they are not going anywhere.

“I’m going all the way to Hamilton, Ontario, so I’ll probably be the sore thumb that sticks out, being that I’m the California boy. But I’ll sit in anywhere.”

McIntyre learned on Monday that the AFL was planning to restart in 2010, but that won’t change his plans.

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“I’ll actually be getting a little more to play up there,” McIntyre said. “I probably wouldn’t have done it if the arena league hadn’t fallen through. I like to think that when one door shuts, another opens.”

McIntyre said there have been players to complete a full season of football, playing for CFL and AFL teams, but he won’t join that short list.

“I don’t foresee that as being possible for a D-lineman. My body gets beat up enough in six months,” McIntyre said.

Hamilton general manager Bob O’Billovich had followed McIntyre’s career since the 6-foot-3, 270-pounder was a defensive star for the Fresno State Bulldogs (2003-06). O’Billovich made the 2006 WAC Defensive Player of the Year an offer soon after talking with him by phone.

The Tiger-Cats begin preseason camp June 1.

Just like he did when he joined the AFL two years ago, McIntyre will have to learn a series of new rules.

“The big thing for me on the D-line is that I have to start a yard off the ball. That’s going to be a lot different,” he said. “There are three downs instead of four and the field is bigger, and I’ll have to run down the field more than in arena.”

After an ankle injury devoured most of McIntyre’s 2007 season with the SaberCats, he became a key member of their defense in 2008. He recorded six quarterback sacks. 4.5 tackles for losses, forced three fumbles and broke up three passes. McIntyre was unable to make three NFL teams ” Seattle, Arizona and Tennessee ” after his four-year college career culminated.

The 24-year-old, however, believes that his pro career is nowhere near an end.

“One thing I’ve come to learn in my pro career is that if you can rush the passer, you can have a long career,” McIntyre said. “I like to say that it’s kind of like an art. As long as I can keep that up, I can have a pretty lengthy career.”

While he works toward his first CFL season, McIntyre is moving forward in completing his construction management degree and preparing to launch a new Web site business on the South Shore.

“Playing in these league, one can make a decent living, but it makes you realize that it won’t last forever,” McIntyre said. “You can look elsewhere and try to make money besides in football.”