Joffrey Reynolds could do no wrong on a football field. He could evade tacklers, power through defences and gain yards like no other running back in the history of the Calgary Stampeders.
But now, away from the game, Reynolds can do little right. Of all the records he holds, it’s the one he doesn’t want that keeps throwing him for a loss.
He has a conviction for assaulting his girlfriend in Calgary. He has no job. Late Thursday, police issued a warrant for Reynolds’s arrest saying he had violated his probation. On Friday morning, he showed up to a scheduled meeting with his new probation officer, ready to start serving his term of 90 days of jail on weekends, saying: “Here I am.”
He was arrested immediately. It was another twist in the conspicuous fall of Joffrey Reynolds.
“He feels confused,” Reynolds’s lawyer, Bjorn Harsanyi, offered as an explanation. “A ‘fugitive’ is a gross overstatement of what he was.”
What he was, not that long ago, was the near-perfect football player who never missed a game, took pride in his work and produced six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Four times, he was voted a CFL all-star and his eight-year total of 9,213 yards made him the Stampeders’ all-time running back.
Those who knew him well described the native of Tyler, Tex., as the “pro’s pro,” unflappable as he was reliable.
“He was a good guy, a great teammate and quiet. He wasn’t a trash talker,” said former Stampeders offensive lineman Jay McNeil, who spent four seasons blocking for Reynolds. “He’d just come in and do his job. … It’s really sad.”
Reynolds’s down turn started in 2011. The wear and tear of his previous seasons ate into his quickness and made him less effective. He shared playing time with LaMarcus Coker and Canadian Jon Cornish until he found himself out of the lineup entirely.
In January of 2012, the Stampeders released Reynolds, saying they had been unable to trade him to another team.
At 32, his career was over but his legal woes were about to begin.
In February, he was convicted of assault, assault causing bodily harm and for being unlawfully in his former girlfriend’s home in connection with a pair of incidents.
Kaitlin Ward, a 6-foot-5 former basketball player, told the court she had returned to her condo one night and was “shocked” to find Reynolds asleep in her bed. (He had lost his home to foreclosure after a mix-up with the buyer.) A confrontation ensued and ended with the 5-foot-10, 220-pound Reynolds tackling Ward and attempting to choke her.
Reynolds said he was the one who awoke to an attack and he only used force in attempt calm her down when “the situation got out of hand.”
“She’s a former athlete. A tall woman. And she’s strong,” he explained.
The judge believed Ward, who wrote in her victim-impact statement she feared Reynolds “would attack me again” and that “this is a person who has an extreme temper that they can’t control.”
Last week, Reynolds was sentenced to 90 days in jail to be served on weekends. He was at a job interview last Wednesday when police checked to see if, according to the terms of his sentencing, he was at his rental home, which he shares with a roommate. On Thursday, Reynolds checked in with the probation office at the Calgary courthouse, where he was assigned a case worker and a Friday morning appointment.
It was Thursday night that Calgary police issued a release seeking public assistance to find Reynolds amid allegations of four counts of breaching house arrest and curfew. His lawyer said police didn’t try to contact him or his client.
“It seems odd to me they would issue a manhunt for someone who is at his house,” Harsanyi said. “Joffrey just didn’t appreciate the full details of the probation order. Well, he does now. There was no intent to evade anything. There was no attempt to be a fugitive or not comply or anything like that. The guy’s just looking for a job.”
Calgary Police spokeswoman Emma Poole said officers visited Reynolds four times over the past few days to check if he was living up to his sentence.
“We do them at all times of the day and you’re required to come to the door and speak to the member,” she said.
McNeil believes his former teammate is looking for something more than just a job. He’s searching for a way to move on.
“It’s hard to leave the game,” said McNeil, who currently works in the oil-and-gas industry. “Football is really not something you can do after you retire. I couldn’t have played another year [due to injuries] and it was still really hard. You miss being in the locker room. You miss the adrenalin rush and the feel of game day.”
Once a star, Reynolds is about to spend his first weekend in a cell at the Calgary Remand Centre. He’s also facing deportation to the United States.
The greatest running back in Stampeders history, the pro’s pro, and there’s just no place for him to run.