For a guy who’d just been told, “Thanks, but no thanks; you’re sitting out our playoff game,” Kevin Glenn was in fine form.
He walked to the podium in the Calgary Stampeders’ media area, eyeballed the assembled horde and joked there were a lot of people in the room for a Tuesday rundown at McMahon Stadium.
“Practice. We’re talking about practice,” said Glenn, giving it his best Allen Iverson.
Everyone laughed. Situation defused.
When the Stampeders named Drew Tate their No. 1 quarterback Tuesday, they did it to resolve what could have been a divisive situation. Fans wanted to know who would start in Sunday’s West Division semi-final against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The media wanted to know and so did many of the Stampeders players, who had their own ideas as to who it should be.
In the end, Calgary head coach John Hufnagel weighed the similarities and differences between his two quarterbacks, selected Tate, then announced it early, “so everyone could concentrate on what’s important – winning a football game.” Ironically, while a straight-laced Tate answered media questions as if already in game mode, Glenn was clearly comfortable, saying all the right things for the good of the cause.
“What was the meeting like [when Hufnagel made his choice]?” Glenn was asked.
“The lights were really dim. Candles were burning,” he replied. “No, it was a regular meeting, same as it was when he told us how we’d handle the last two weeks [of the regular season]. Huf’s very professional. I’m a team guy and I will help anyway I can, and when I get an opportunity, I’m going to do my best.”
Glenn and Tate were rotated during the final two games. Both made their cases: Glenn as the steady veteran who won 10 games after Tate was sidelined with a dislocated shoulder July 7, and Tate as the fast-healing, emotional catalyst who was appointed the No. 1 man when the 2012 season began.
Ultimately, Hufnagel said he liked how “Drew came out and showed his shoulder is completely healthy. He’s throwing well and he has the ability to extend plays with his legs, and he had a pretty good winning percentage [83 per cent when he’s started and played at least one half]. I had a gut feeling to go with Drew. It was close. It was not an easy decision.”
Glenn played all three games against Saskatchewan this season. He passed for a combined 796 yards and eight touchdowns, and won twice. Tate, however, returned to active duty as if he’d barely missed a week, making good on his promise in July that he’d be back by November.
Although physically prepped, Tate has precious little CFL playoff experience to rely on.
Last year, after taking over for Henry Burris, Tate started in Edmonton against the Eskimos in the West semi-final. He completed a deep pass to Romby Bryant and got Calgary on top 7-0. He then dropped the football while attempting a pass only to watch the Eskimos recover and return it for a crucial touchdown.
At halftime, Tate was sitting and Burris playing. Calgary lost by two touchdowns.
“Last year … I don’t even know,” Tate said. “I just want to do my job. Looking back, it was turnovers that got to us last year and the year before that. We keep the ball, we don’t put our defence in bad situations; we’ll be all right.”
Tate has a knack for making plays early, while Glenn has shown he can come in cold and do whatever is needed to settle down an offence. Tate is risky; Glenn is reliable. They compliment one another, which is why Tate had to admit: “I have a feeling he’s going to play, too.”
Even if he doesn’t, Glenn has already made the Stamps stronger by not tearing them apart over his demotion.
As he repeated a number of times Tuesday: “It’s not about Kevin Glenn. It’s about the Stampeders and winning.”
With essentially two starting quarterbacks, the chance of that happening is twice as good.