Terrence Edwards has been a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers so long he can remember a time when, get this, the Bombers had a viable and reliable starting quarterback.
Edwards joined the Bombers in 2007 as a Montreal Alouettes' castoff and instantly found chemistry with the Bombers' starting QB at the time, Kevin Glenn.
With Glenn enjoying a career season at the controls of the Winnipeg offence, Edwards caught a career-high 80 passes for 1,280 yards and nine TDs in 2007 and the Bombers went to the Grey Cup game, falling 23-19 to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
'Yes, I'd love to have won a Grey Cup, but I've had a great career. Coming over from Montreal, no one really knew who I was and I came over and showed people the God-given talent I have. I've enjoyed it here and I know I'm going to retire here. If something were to happen and I'd have to go to another team, I don't think I'd really want to play'
That was as good as it got for Edwards in Winnipeg. Edwards and the Bombers did get to the Grey Cup game again in 2011, but that was despite an anemic offence and because of a dominating defence.
Aside from that, Edwards has known only disappointment -- and an endless stream of failed quarterback auditions -- in his seven years of Hall-of-Fame service for the Canadian Football League's most dysfunctional franchise.
Then this year happened. By this year, we mean the absolute rock bottom the team and its longest-serving player have found in a 2013 season that has been a debacle for both.
For the team, of course, it's been the nightmare of a 2-9 season in a year in which they were supposed to be showcasing their new $200-million football palace. For Edwards, it's been the personal low of a slow start after off-season foot surgery followed by the gut-wrench of getting beaten up week in and week out while toiling for an offence that couldn't find traction in a Velcro factory.
Almost two-thirds of the way into the 2013 season, Edwards has yet to catch a single touchdown pass and -- with just 405 yards receiving so far -- seems likely to fail to reach the 1,000-yard plateau for just the second time in his seven-year Bombers career.
It would be easy to understand if Edwards was a bit resentful these days toward a franchise to which he has given so much, while asking so little and receiving even less.
But the opposite is true for a man who says he regrets nothing -- on the field or off of it -- and has already decided when the end to his career comes, it will with absolute certainty be as a Bomber.
"I've enjoyed my time here. I wouldn't change anything," Edwards said Thursday afternoon at Investors Group Field after his team went through a final light practice in advance of tonight's game against the Edmonton Eskimos.
"Yes, I'd love to have won a Grey Cup, but I've had a great career. Coming over from Montreal, no one really knew who I was and I came over and showed people the God-given talent I have. I've enjoyed it here and I know I'm going to retire here. If something were to happen and I'd have to go to another team, I don't think I'd really want to play.
"I'm going to finish my career here in Winnipeg."
Given Edwards' age, 34, a spate of injuries the past couple of seasons and the duress of this 2013 season, that last statement screams the obvious question.
Might this be the final season of his career?
"I've got an option year next year. If the team wants me to be here again next year, I'd want to be here too. If they want to go another direction, that's their prerogative," says Edwards. "But I'm going to finish my career in Winnipeg whenever that might be. I don't really want to play for another organization. I've carved my niche here in Winnipeg. I'm a Blue Bomber for life."
Given his loyalty to his team, it's not surprising the team is just as loyal to Edwards. In the same way players talked openly toward the end of the careers of Bombers greats Milt Stegall and Doug Brown about how much they wanted to win a Grey Cup for them before they retired, the players talk the same way these days about winning one for Edwards.
"I've been lucky enough to play for Terrence for six years now," says linebacker Pierre-Luc Labbe. "And I haven't seen many guys more professional than he is. He's always at the stadium early -- earlier than me. And he's always leaving late, doing those little extra things that keep him in the league.
"He's been playing so long that you need to do something unique to play that long."
Edwards says his uncharacteristic struggles this year are the result partly of what he describes as "major" off-season surgery on his foot, but are also the result of being a player on a team that is, let's face it, not very good.
"It's a combination of everything," he explains. "I can always play better. But I also can't throw the ball to myself, I can't block for myself -- it takes a lot of other components and 11 other players to make for a successful season."
Edwards says he considers himself fortunate to have played in the two Grey Cup games and has made peace with the idea he might have to retire without ever winning a CFL championship.