Johnson: Glenn remains the ultimate team player
Quarterback disappointed he won’t be starting, but he will stand behind Tate
Kevin Glenn had hoped he’d be handing off to Jon Cornish, not Drew Tate, come Sunday.
“The lights were dim, some candles were burning . . . no, y’know, it was a regular meeting,” joked Glenn, encircled by a sack-happy all-out media blitz, when prodded as to the specifics of his meeting earlier Tuesday morning with coach John (Mr. Bearer of Bad Tidings) Hufnagel.
“It was the same meeting we had basically the last two games of the season when he told us that Drew was gonna get some playing time. Huff’s very professional. He came out and said Drew’s going to get the start.
“I’m a team guy. I’m going to help any way I can.
“I mean, it’s tough. As I’ve said in previous interviews, I want to play. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here. Trust me, I want to play as much as anybody. I don’t want to give you guys the wrong adjective to run with . . . but, like, I want to play. I want to be the guy out there. So don’t get me wrong. But there’s a bigger picture here than just Kevin Glenn.
“This is about the Calgary Stampeders.
“Drew’s gonna play. I’m going to do anything to help him out, the same way he did when I was playing, and Bo (Levi Mitchell) did. When I get my chance, I’m gonna go in and do what I did at the beginning of the season when he went down with the injury. I went in, I did my part as the backup of putting the team in the playoffs and having a home playoff game.”
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” promised Hufnagel, the man who made it.
Maybe not AN easy decision.
But it was THE easy decision.
And there is a distinction.
Easy because Glenn’s laid-back, Tate’s more outwardly intense; because Glenn arrived here in June pencilled in to caddy, Tate to putt for all the dough; because Glenn’s a short-term investment, Tate’s here for the long haul; because Glenn has been around the block a few times and is doubtless more equipped to handle such a kick in the cojones, as well as pick himself up from the disappointment and come in cold should things not go according to script at some delicate juncture Sunday at McMahon Stadium.
Tate’s fiery demeanour, his ability to stretch plays with his legs, his place on the pecking order all played into his receiving benediction for Sunday’s West semi against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. And they’re all very valid reasons. Still, for what he’s meant here this year, Glenn could’ve so very easily have felt slighted. Passed over. Cheated.
He’s the guy, after all, who helped put this team in this position in the first place. Without his savvy, his competence, his emotional balance, his fierce (if quiet) self-belief, the whole enterprise could’ve sunk silently into the murky depths when Tate went down clutching his shoulder at Rogers Centre early on in Game 2 of the season.
“Coming off the bench, new team, having a new locker to believe in you, go out and protect you . . . it’s been good,” surmised Glenn. “I helped put the team in position for a home playoff game, a 12-6 record, we did some great things on the offence in terms of points scored, we had guys high in certain statistical categories.
“I think we did a helluva job. But at the same time, if Drew was playing, do I think he would’ve been able to do the same thing? Of course. He’s a good player.
“But, you know, I’m very satisfied with what I did.”
And satisfied with the machinations involved in the choice of starter?
“I’m satisfied that he’s the coach. I’ve never been in that kind of position, to make that kind of decision. Sometimes you don’t see the whole reasoning behind it, because we’re players. The only thing that I can do is take the decision he makes and do the best I can with it.
“Some guys would react like ‘No! Come on! I wanna be the guy!’ Get all upset and everything. I handle things differently than other people. That’s just how I am.”
Glenn shrugged when it was suggested that such graciousness, his abhorrence for boat-rocking, aids in making it the easy decision, too.
“As a player, you try to make it as hard on a coach as possible. You do that by your play on the field. And that’s all you can do. I don’t think you do it with tactics outside the field, in interviews, or by pitching a fit, by starting unnecessary controversy. Things that take the focus of what’s really at hand — which is us winning a playoff game.
“Yes, you are evaluated on a personal level, individually, but it’s still a team game. You’ve got to learn how to balance things, not let certain things upset you.
“If you start taking it personally, then you’re just being selfish. And selfish doesn’t win you anything.”
Kevin Glenn has won far more than 12 football games this season. He’s won redemption. At 33, a new lease on his football life. He’s won the admiration of his teammates, the thanks of an organization and a whole lot of fans in this city.
Maybe he was never more valuable than Tuesday, though, by not acting the peeved, jilted discard. And, who knows, his part in this story may not yet be done.
So, no, not AN easy decision. Not at all.
But THE easy decision? Most definitely.
What ultimately matters, of course, is that it turns out being the right one.
George Johnson is the Herald’s sports columnist. E-mail him at email@example.com
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