There are two pictures CFL fans have of Kevin Glenn in their mind. One is an image of pain. The other is of redemption. Now he wants to burn his moment of ultimate glory into our collective football memories.
"This is my chance to wash all those things away. To forget that broken arm and missing that Grey Cup and to move past Winnipeg releasing me. This is my chance to win the Grey Cup and become a household name like all those other quarterbacks who have won the Grey Cup," said Glenn, during a telephone interview on Monday afternoon. "This is a chance to make Kevin Glenn a complete player in eyes of the CFL. This is a chance to bring all those things that have happened before this point to a close."
Glenn has long been the quarterback no one in the CFL really wanted.
Signed by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2001, traded to the Toronto Argonauts and then flipped to Winnipeg two years later.
Not good enough for the Bombers. Released.
Not good enough for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Traded.
Not good enough for the Calgary Stampeders. Wait. Hold on a minute. Maybe the Stamps will keep him after all.
Just two weeks ago, after leading the Stampeders for most of the regular season, coach John Hufnagel told Glenn to sit down and that youngster Drew Tate would guide the team in the playoffs.
Fate would have it that Tate would break his arm and Glenn, the unwanted son, would once again be asked to forget a slight and push on to win for his team.
"My grandmother and my family taught me that sometimes decency wins. Some guys would have griped and made noise. My thinking was to handle it in a different way. I could have moaned and groaned that I should have been the one playing," said Glenn, who despite being among the CFL's top 15 quarterbacks in career passing with over 30,000 yards in the air is never on anyone's list when they think of the game's best passers. "Sometimes as players we forget we don't have control over that. All we can do is when we're given the chance to play, to play well and let the chips fall. Let the coaches decide and make those decisions because that's what they do. Earlier in my career, I would have made some noise. Now I'm a little more mature and have been through a few things. It's a team game. I had to swallow my pride and go with the decision. I would rather have an opportunity to play in the West Final and the Grey Cup than make some silly fuss."
The cruel book on Kevin Glenn as always been, "Kevin Glenn, just good enough to break your heart."
Pro sports isn't always fair. But if there was any justice, Glenn would win the Grey Cup on Sunday. He's been robbed of this chance once before.
In many ways, Glenn's story begins back in 2007 in the corner of the visitor's locker room at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Bombers had just advanced to the Grey Cup. But their quarterback wouldn't be with them. A freak accident late in the game left Glenn with a broken arm. And Bombers fans, you guessed it, with broken hearts.
"The doctor in Winnipeg, Dr. Pete McDonald, told me when we came off the field, I can remember it like it was yesterday. I knew something was wrong but sometimes when you hit your funny bone your arm can feel wonky," remembers Glenn. "When I moved my arm I could feel the pain right where it was broke. I grabbed it because I couldn't hold my arm up myself. Terrence Edwards walked me off the field and then when we got into the locker room, the doctor told me it was broken. I was trying to find a way to play. To wrap it or something. But it was broke."
For Winnipeggers, it was another missed chance at the Grey Cup. The drought would endure. And Glenn, he would never be the same in their eyes.
"Man, that was probably one of the lowest moments in my life. It was like a shock," said Glenn. "The first thing that came into my mind was, 'Why me? Why? Why? Why? Why is this happening?' The success we had that year. The only question I could come up with was, why.
"Watching the game was tough. I was trying to make sure it wasn't an emotional situation or about me. I was trying to keep the attention off Kevin Glenn. I wanted the guys on the bench to focus on the game. I was trying to help (Ryan) Dinwiddie and do my part as a teammate. But knowing you had gotten that far and couldn't take part in the game, the introductions were emotional. We got to the tunnel and the fans were screaming and I wasn't part of it anymore. It was hard."
The Bombers lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Who else? Glenn, despite being the reason Winnipeg was in the game, was also the reason Winnipeg lost the game.
"We would have won. And I tell (winning Riders QB) Kerry Joseph that every time I see him. You can ask him. If I'm in that game, we win it," states Glenn.
The Bombers, as they were constituted at that time, would never be the same. Coach Doug Berry would be fired, GM Brendan Taman pushed out and Glenn released. Cut adrift for nothing. Not even a draft pick.
"It was the start of a rough stretch. It was rough. You can use that adjective. You come off being the Eastern MOP nominee, runner up for the league MOP, get to the Grey Cup, get hurt and the next season we lose in the first round of the playoffs and I get released in the offseason," said Glenn. "The best thing for me, around all that, my son was being born. My son being born trumped all that. It took my mind away from what was going on in my football career. At the time it was my first child. He was born on March 12th of 2009 and I was released about a week before he was born. Ross Hodgkinson was the one that gave me the call. He called because we had a personal relationship as well as a business relationship. Ross is a man. He knows how to deliver news like that. It was business, I get that. At no point did I think Ross didn't want me in Winnipeg. But he did it anyway because that's the kind of man he is."
Now Glenn is back at the title game. The biggest football game of the year playing a starring role against the hometown Toronto Argonauts. Finally, his moment of triumph?
"It feels good. Honestly to know people are behind me feels good. I got a message last night, the mayor of Calgary tweeted last night, "Kevin Glenn is my hero." That feels good," said Glenn. "Maybe it all gets righted on Sunday. Maybe this is my chance to move past all this and join the other quarterbacks and get the respect I think I deserve."
Glenn has had the tragic ending. Why not the fairy tell? Why not Kevin Glenn? Why not?
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @garylawless
ARGOS PLANNING FOR A QUICK START /D4