It was only last Wednesday morning, when quarterback Kevin Glenn emerged from the Calgary Stampeders clubhouse at McMahon Stadium, a single, solitary smiling figure.
To one side, slotback Nik Lewis was surrounded by television cameras, trying to explain away a controversial tweet. Nearby, quarterback Drew Tate was offering his thoughts on what did and didn’t qualify as a concussion, and happened to mention in passing that his throwing arm was bothering him, but he figured it would be okay.
Glenn glanced around at the crowd of reporters, raised his hand and announced to no one in particular, “Kevin Glenn scrum, Kevin Glenn scrum.” Everybody laughed, but only one reporter took the bait, wandering over largely to exchange pleasantries.
On that day, Glenn was the forgotten man, scheduled to backup Tate in the West Division final.
Twenty-four hours later, Tate was ruled out because of a small fracture in his right forearm, and Glenn stepped into the breach. His 303-yard passing performance last Sunday helped propel the Stamps into the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto on Sunday – and gives him a chance to bring his CFL career full circle.
Five years ago, Glenn led the Winnipeg Blue Bombers into the 2007 Grey Cup in Toronto, but fractured his forearm in the East final (against the Argonauts at Rogers Centre) and had to watch from the sidelines as his team fell to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
So this second opportunity – to complete a job he essentially started in another place at another time in his playing life – means everything to Glenn, the chance to go back to the Grey Cup and this time to actually … “Play,” the 12-year veteran said, interrupting and completing a reporter’s question.
“From the first time we got into the playoffs, everybody was saying: ‘It’s back in Toronto where you hurt your arm,’ and ‘This is a chance for redemption.’ When Drew went down and we found out I would actually be playing, that was the thing. Everybody was saying, ‘We’re going to go back there for you, so you get a chance to redeem yourself and bring that Grey Cup home.’”
On his way to the stadium before Monday’s only availability prior to the Stampeders’ departure for Toronto, Glenn stopped to buy all the morning newspapers that had his picture on the front page.
“I knew my family was going to want them,” he said. “They always collect those kinds of things. My father, he laminates them and keeps them, so … I’m still feeling it, and it feels real good.”
The Stampeders acquired Glenn from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the off-season, largely as an insurance policy.
Tate was to be their quarterback of the present and future, but he dislocated his shoulder in early July, so it became Glenn’s team for most of the season. Tate eventually returned and got the Stampeders past Saskatchewan in the West semi-final, but it was Glenn that settled everything down in last Sunday’s 34-29 road win over the B.C. Lions, throwing a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage.
“I said that the day I made the trade – how pleased I was that Kevin was involved,” Stampeders general manager and head coach John Hufnagel said. “I always had a great amount of respect for his ability. When he first became the starter, when Drew was injured, it was under dire circumstances because we were on an Eastern swing and we had very little practice time. We had only one walkthrough practice and it was a tough go.
“His first game against Montreal as a full-time starter, we were in a position to win the game and then he makes that mistake [an interception by Jerald Brown, which helped the Als to a 33-32 come-from-behind victory] and the sky is falling. But he responded and led this team admirably throughout the season.”
After the win over B.C., Glenn listed the chance to play in the Grey Cup among the highlights of his life (up there with his graduation, marriage and the birth of his children). “Words can’t describe it,” he said. “Your peers, your teammates shake your hand and tell you, ‘You played a hell of a game’ and ‘We’re glad you’re having this success.’
“One guy in particular, Drew Tate, after every pass and every touchdown, he was the first guy to greet me. That was great – to have a guy like that on your team that feels that way about you, given that we both compete for the same job. And it was vice versa when he was out there – I was the one congratulating him,” Glenn said.
“I think that’s what makes this team so successful. Everyone enjoys each other. We’ve just got one more task at hand, and that’s to bring the Grey Cup back to Calgary.”