It is always more satisfying to see people earn their success and opportunities than having them gift wrapped and handed to them.
While some players have had the good fortune to trip, stumble, and fall into Grey Cups and onto championship rosters, Kevin Glenn has been chewed up, spit out, punted, and left for dead more times than any other quarterback in the CFL.
This is a player who wasn't supposed to be playing in the Western Final, and who will now start in the Grey Cup for the first time in his 12-year career.
After starting 15 games for the Calgary Stampeders this year and winning 10 of them, what has happened to Glenn so many times before, happened again. He got the proverbial rug pulled out from underneath him. He has been stripped of starting quarterback duties so regularly throughout his career you'd figure he'd be an exotic dancer by now. He was always just the guy that was never destined to be the guy.
When he was traded to Calgary, it was as a backup. Drew Tate was the starter and Glenn was the insurance policy. When the insurance policy was activated, Glenn led the Stampeders to the second-best record in the CFL, but it wasn't enough, and it has never been enough. When Tate came back early from what was initially thought to be a season-ending injury, he was given his old spot back again. Tate was always the future, Glenn was the stop-loss program.
As you have probably figured out, Tate was hurt again in the Western semifinal, but if he was somehow able to mend his fractured arm in a week, he would most likely be back at the helm of the Stampeders as they prepare for the Grey Cup.
Glenn has never had anything handed to him, he has always had things taken from him. Whether he has failed to seize the opportunities before him, or has always been a magnet for misfortune, this is business as usual for him.
In the five years I played with Glenn, I always felt that if he was matched to the right system and surrounded by competent players, his potential was unlimited. Quite simply, he is as good as the players and scheme that he works with. He isn't necessarily going to elevate the game of his teammates with his play, but if you outfit him with the proper arsenal, he can do damage.
When a player like Glenn is a runner-up for a major league award like he was in 2007, and then doesn't have the same level of productivity the following year, I'm more suspicious of his complements than I am of his abilities. Not to make excuses for Glenn, as many other pivots are able to adjust to annual changes in personnel and systems, but stability and continuity weren't exactly themes of the day during most of his tenures.
While Glenn will never be charged with being the most intense or serious competitor, when he has a chip on his shoulder and plays with emotion, in my opinion, he is at his best.
In 2009, when we had to beat Hamilton to make the playoffs, a number of us commented on how, just like most QB's, Glenn didn't like to get hit. At all. This notion manifested to the point where he must have felt he was being conveyed as "soft," and he played with a level of passion and clinical precision you don't always see in his game.
Whether as his teammate or his opponent, the days when he feels he has something to prove, are the days you better take serious heed of his skills.
Rarely is there a single game that can change or define a player's tenure, especially after 12 seasons in the CFL, but the 100th Grey Cup may just be a big enough exclamation point to forever alter the perception of Kevin Glenn.
If he wins this game and puts his stamp on it -- no pun intended -- he may finally have the respect and the accolades required to close out his career as a pivot on a team that isn't continually looking for something better.
Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays and game days in the Free Press.