Johnson: Glenn knows all about Tate’s heartbreak (with video)
Veteran quarterback was injured before 2007 Grey Cup, which Bombers lost in his absence
Peering over at downcast Drew Tate, mostly obscured by a thicket of interrogators, Kevin Glenn could only shake his head in empathetic consolation.
“I know exactly what he’s going through. It’s very emotional.
“I’ve been there.
“You’d have to actually experience it to understand the significance of how emotional it really is. So, yeah, of course I feel for the guy.
“Hey, I WAS that guy.”
Rewind to 2007, and the image of Kevin Glenn being scraped off the carpet of the Rogers Centre in Toronto, his left arm broken during a 19-9 East semifinal win over the Argos. Then fast forward a week as he stands helplessly on the sidelines, trussed up in a sling as the Ryan Dinwiddie-directed Winnipeg Blue Bombers fall 23-19 to Saskatchewan in the 95th Grey Cup.
“Some people think ‘Ah, it’s just a game’,” Glenn, five years later thrust into the Dinwiddie role, is saying. “But the chance at a championship, man, it’s something that doesn’t come along often in a player’s lifetime. I’ve seen some of the greatest never have the chance to win one. Even the chance to play in one.
“So to get this close, to have an opportunity to get there, to be the guy everybody’s turned to and then have the rug pulled out from underneath you . . . it’s very tough.”
Drew Tate is only now discovering what Glenn knows first-hand.
On a dizzying week out at McMahon Stadium that has produced high on-field drama and tasteless twitter ‘comedy’; the news Thursday that Tate actually suffered a broken bone in his right forearm during last Sunday’s semifinal win against the Riders and is gone for the season came as a jarring capper.
Meaning Glenn, the league’s best contingency plan, at 33 trying to have that first elusive Grey Cup ring sized, is back with his name atop the marquee this weekend at BC Place. And, the Stamps hope, beyond.
“Drew, Kevin, we know what they’re both capable of,” said slotback Nik Lewis defiantly. “And that’s taking us the distance.”
Given Glenn’s success in his injury-necessitated promotion to starter for 14 games this regular season, in the minds of most in this city, the quarterbacks are virtually interchangeable. Both have their strengths. Each have their advocates.
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“Tate is our guy, the face of our franchise, no question,” acknowledged rush end Anwar Stewart. “And I’m sad for him. But when he went down, Glenn came in a did a great, great job. He’s not going to miss a beat. He’s gonna go out and lead because he’s been doing that all year for us.”
No question, Kevin Glenn can slip into this role as easily as into a pair of comfy old slippers. He’s had more sequels than the Rocky franchise.
“Hey, it’s not as if we haven’t been through this before,” he reminded everyone. “We overcame it before. So it’s going to be a good outing.
Trust is something he’s more than earned here.
Back in ’07, Glenn, the Eastern nominee for Most Outstanding Player, had his left humerus — the bone between the shoulder and elbow — busted on the first play of the fourth quarter by Argos’ linebacker Kevin Eiben after a botched handoff to scatback Charles Roberts keep in Toronto territory.
Bummed Bomber fans have been lamenting ‘What if . . .?’ ever since (“If ‘if’ was a fifth,” sighed Glenn back then, “we’d all be drunk”).
“I never took the path of ‘This is not fair!’,” he recalled Thursday. “I did, though, for some time, ask myself ‘Why?’ That’s just human nature. ‘Why? Why me?’ But I think God has a plan. He has a plan and I had to understand that. It was bigger than just me.
“I found out (about Tate), I don’t know what time it was? Yesterday evening sometime. I was pretty much told what the situation is — I’m gonna start. That’s just the way it is. Nothing special. We didn’t have a big ceremony or anything.
“It’s a team sport. I’m not the only one that contributed to those wins (in Tate’s absence). Drew even contributed to them when he wasn’t playing, being the type of guy is, coming in and helping me when we were on the sidelines. This is probably one of the most ultimate teams I’ve been on; where everybody has actually been a part of it.
“We’ve had a lot of guys go down and a lot of guys step up and play successfully.”
None moreso than No. 15.
And now a city, a franchise, is asking one more thing of him. Two, actually.
The Glenn parallels between 2007 and now make this a different sort of compelling storyline from the one Drew Tate had hoped to write. Cue the violins, stock up on the tissue, this has suddenly become a chance at it’s-about-time heartstring-tugging redemption.
“I guess,” Glenn shrugged, “if you wanna look at it like that . . .”
There simply is no other way.
“I said it last week: I want to win this year for Kevin,” announced Lewis, for once happy (and how) to talk about someone other than himself. “I’ve been lucky enough to win a Grey Cup. He hasn’t.
“He’s meant so much to us this year. He’s a great guy. A great, great guy. Being around him has been a joy.
“Winnipeg was clearly the better team (in 2007). So for him to get hurt at the end of the game like that, and for them to go on and lose the Grey Cup with him standing on the sidelines, hurting . . .
“Right now, he has to be savouring this opportunity.
“It’s kinda like, after all these years, he has the chance to go out and right a wrong.”
George Johnson is the Herald’s sports columnist. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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