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This article was published 18/9/2021 (243 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
EDMONTON — It’s always a juicy storyline when a player is set to play against their former team for the first time.
But when that player is a long snapper, you can’t exactly tout it as a "revenge game" because, well, it’s a long snapper. What the heck do you expect them to do out there?
However, that doesn’t mean it’s not meaningful. Chad Rempel spent five seasons with the Blue Bombers but the team opted to not bring him back after their 2019 Grey Cup run, instead, they signed 34-year-old Winnipegger Mike Benson.
Rempel’s the oldest player in the league at 40. Winning the Grey Cup is how most players dream of riding off into the sunset, but yet, the Sherwood Park, Alta., native just wasn’t quite ready.
"I thought long and hard about it," Rempel said Friday at Commonwealth Stadium as he and the Elks prepare to host the Bombers tonight.
"I didn’t really make a decision until close to the season. Being the (vice-president) of the players association I was pretty caught up in negotiations and all the amendments we had to make. That can kinda take away your passion for the field sometimes cause it’s pretty frustrating. But, once we got all that settled, and you can get your mind back on football, I just felt like I had a little bit more."
Assuming this is Rempel’s final season, it’s rather fitting that it’s in Edmonton as the team originally drafted him in 2004 as a wide receiver.
"A lot of guys have been joking that the Elks organization finally got to reap the benefits of a 2004 pick, 20 years later," said Rempel.
Rempel admitted that it wasn’t easy to not be re-signed in Winnipeg, but realizes it’s a part of the business. He helped a lot of field goals go through the uprights as he worked side by side with Justin Medlock for four seasons.
"The lead-up to this game is a little bit different because you talk back and forth with some of your old teammates, but once you get on the field, all that kind of goes away," he said.
"I’m with a new team now, I have a new set of teammates and we’re just going out there and trying to win a game."
Rempel’s been playing professionally since 2004 so he’s seen a thing or two in his day, but this season has been unlike any other. The Elks were hit hard COVID-19 as 14 players caught the virus, forcing the team’s game with the Toronto Argos on Aug. 26 to get postponed to November.
They’ve gotten past that, but they were recently hit with another huge letdown as their star quarterback Trevor Harris is sidelined with a neck injury.
"We have had a lot of adversity but those are opportunities for us to really grow as a team," Rempel said. "I’m looking forward to the rest of the season here to see how those moments have moulded us and our character."
Rempel was also on the injury report this week as he was a little nicked up but he’ll be in action against the Bombers. The veteran was asked how he’s feeling physically heading into the game.
"I mean, I’m 40 years old, I’m nicked up every day," he said with a smile.
WILDER FEELING CONFIDENT
Edmonton Elks running back James Wilder Jr. told reporters on Friday that he doesn’t believe the Bombers have "faced a running back at my level yet" this season.
Bombers defensive end Willie Jefferson is certainly up for the challenge as he was asked for his opinion on Wilder’s comments.
"We gonna give him what he’s asking for. He’s a difficult back, a tough runner... We know who he is and we’re gonna give him what he wants. We’re gonna give him a lot of smoke."
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.