Johnson: Glenn can write the ultimate redemption tale
Veteran QB finally going to the Grey Cup, silencing critics, putting injury heartbreak behind him
That bag of pixie dust Kevin Glenn has been pilfering from to sprinkle magic along the way, well, it’s got some goodness left in it yet.
“I can compare it to a couple of things in my life . . .,” began Glenn, still lingering on the field as BC Place began to empty out rapidly, the inevitable West Division champions ball cap perched on his head, slightly askew, with the tag hanging ludicrously limp. “My graduation from college. My wedding. The birth of my two kids. That’s what it feels like.
“Those things I’ll never forget. And I won’t forget this win, either. Ever.
“I feel EXCITED.”
He touched his ticker. “I mean, man, my heart . . .”
The guy has one the size of all Michigan.
Kevin Glenn’s going to a Grey Cup. And he’s gonna play. As much as the hordes of detractors in Winnipeg and Hamilton might refuse to believe it.
“Yeah, I had the confidence that I had the ability to do it,” he said following a moment he called the greatest he’d experienced in the game. “Didn’t know what team it was gonna be, but I’m glad it’s the Calgary Stampeders.”
This is turning into a feel-good yarn of personal redemption that Frank Capra used to grace movie screens with in the ’30s and ’40s, usually starring stammering Jimmy Stewart or aw-shucks Gary Cooper. Populist tales of an individual’s rise against the odds and the critics to prevail triumphant.
So what would Glenn say to all those who dissed him and dismissed him down through the years, who wrote him off as a perennial big-game flop?
“Hey, you know I’m non-confrontational. That’s not me. So I’m not going to change right now because of the situation. That’s what those people think. They have an opinion, you know. But I also have an opinion. And coach Hufnagel had an opinion, too, this off-season.
“And he made the right one.”
And how. It’s been ages since the B.C. Lions’ defence was shredded the way Glenn and his merry mischief makers did during Sunday’s West final. Jon Cornish romped for 112 yards. Two receivers, Marquay McDaniel and Maurice Price, went over the century mark, as well. And Glenn, well, he finished 15-of-24 for 303 yards and three touchdowns.
He made one mistake — Korey Banks jumping a sideline route — and paid for it dearly, the wily old DB returning it 77 yards to the house to however briefly put the Leos back on even terms, 7-7.
“The actual pick is not what your character is about,” said Glenn. “It’s how you bounce back from it. And we bounced back. Me and the rest of the team. Because those guys believed in me.”
“He’s done that all year long,” lauded coach John Hufnagel, the man who had faith. “He’s made mistakes but got back on the field. That’s what we always talk about, being able to reload and answer and forget the play that just happened, and then move on to the next play. He did a tremendous job today.”
Glenn and Co. showed their intentions right away, pitching a 68-yard TD strike to Marquay McDaniel right down the Lions’ windpipe on Calgary’s second play from scrimmage. Right off the hop, they had the favoured Lions on the back foot.
Offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson, the sly gent who devised such a cunning plan to take down the vaunted Lions’ stronghold, couldn’t say enough about the guy implementing his vision.
“I’m happy for Kevin. I told him ‘I don’t know why people don’t give you your due.’ He took a back seat when Drew (Tate) came back, which must’ve been hard.”
In the aftermath of the 36-30 semifinal win over Saskatchewan, Dickenson, along with everyone else, had no inkling Tate had suffered the fracture in his right arm that would necessitate Glenn starting Sunday. So he texted Glenn to tell him how proud he was of the way he’d handled a difficult situation.
“He actually gave the game ball to Drew afterwards. And I told him in the text ‘Hey, be ready. Stranger things have happened.’
“And, guess what? Stranger things happened.”
One of the reasons Hufnagel gave for going with Tate in the semifinal was the Texan’s ability to extend plays with his legs. Well, the 33-year-old pinch-hitter looked positively Drew-like on a few improvisational forays Sunday.
“I did, didn’t I?” laughed Glenn. “You know, I watched him last week.” He began bobbing and weaving, like a fighter trying to avoid haymakers. “I got elusive in the pocket and I stepped over some guys and threw the ball deep. I do those things when they’re called for. Drew, that kind of stuff comes naturally ’cause of the athlete he is. I only do it when it’s called for.
“We took chances and we set up plays to try to hit those routes. The one thing is we played ’em enough to know what they do. They read a lot of routes, so as an offence you gotta be able to protect and go overtop. And that’s what we did today.”
The man he supplanted echoed the cheering.
“I don’t know what you can say about him,” marvelled Tate. “But first off, he was due for what happened in ’07 to the poor guy. Then the (regular) season is over and all of the stories are about me, right? Then Kevin gets plugged in and plays the most exceptional game ever. It’s just the way the team has been all year. It hasn’t been one player. It’s just been the team the whole year.”
Take a second, all you skeptics. Best find a chair so you don’t keel over: Kevin Glenn is going to a Grey Cup game. And, will wonders never cease?, he’s gonna play. There’s no ‘I told you so!’ in the man. But there’s a lot of ‘I showed you so!’
So the Toronto Argonauts should thus be warned: There’s more than enough pixie dust to for one last sprinkle.
“One more chapter,” cooed Glenn softly. “You guys gotta get your pens and pads ready. ’Cause we got one more game.”
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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