Kevin Glenn Sr. beaming with pride over his QB son
Stamps pivot was convinced to stick with football by his dad
That intrinsic burden of responsibility, of taking charge, being the unruffled voice of reason, was instilled in the son early.
“He’s the oldest of five kids so it just comes naturally, I guess,” surmises Kevin Glenn, Sr., from the family home outside Detroit. “Kevin used to catch the bus home from school with two of his younger siblings and he was always the boss. The one making sure everything was OK and everyone was all right. Kevin’s been that way all his life. Quiet. A leader. Someone people turn to, are drawn to, listen to. Never complains. Whether you lose or you win, you’ve just got to get better and better and better.
“When he plays against competitive people, when obstacles are put in his path, it just pushes him to go further and further and further.”
All the way, Sunday, to his first start in a Grey Cup game. At 33.
The Kevin Glenn story has morphed into THE story of the 100th anniversary of the game that knits our nation (at least most of it) together. The kind of heart-tugging tale of adversity and perseverance and sweet
Kevin Sr. reckons nine members of the immediate family will be heading across the border from Motor City to see how the story plays out. It helps that he works for Southwest Air and his wife Jill for United. So they’re handling the flights.
Kevin Jr. is, apparently, on the hook for tickets.
“I hope so,” laughs his dad. “Else some of us are going to be stuck outside!”
To say that Jr. is a chip off the ol’ block might be understating the fact some. A mirror-image, more like.
“A lot of people,” says quarterback Kevin, “mistake us for brothers, not father and son. That’s OK. Actually, I think it’s pretty cool.
“I’m proud to be named after my dad. Very proud. The only downside to being a Jr. is that people gettin’ us mixed up all the time. When I first went to apply to buy a house they told me I already owned one. And I’m like ‘Um, no I’m pretty sure I don’t ...’ And apparently I had a couple of credit cards I didn’t know about, either, since ’89.
“When I was only 10.”
Kevin Glenn has always felt familial backing. For instance, his folks showed up for the ’07 Grey Cup here, even though their son had suffered a broken arm in the East final and was unable quarterback the Winnipeg Blue Bombers that disheartening day.
“My whole career my dad has been coming out to support me. He’s the reason I’m actually playing football. I don’t think I’d be here if he hadn’t convinced me to keep at it. When I got to high school I had no intentions of playing football. I was gonna quit and stick with baseball. He convinced me. He saw the potential. So I played football. And from that day forward, I’ve never stopped playing football.”
The patriarchal pride isn’t only in the performance. Because there’s much more, as we’ve learned over the past few months, to Kevin Glenn. The dad speaks now of the phone call he received when John Hufnagel decided to re-insert Drew Tate for the West semifinal as the starter, even after the son had been quietly stellar, understatedly brilliant, for 14 weeks in replacement.
“We talked that day,” recalls Kevin Sr., “and he said to me: ‘Coach Huff’s gonna start Drew, dad. And as long as we win, I’m OK with that.’ ”
Everyone, by now, knows what happened next.
“I’m proud just because of the type of person he is. He’s a nice kid. He cares about the person beside him. Our family is a close family. He has his priorities straight. When Saskatchewan had him on his neg list, he didn’t have his degree yet. He said he was going to back and get it. And he did. He’s a man of his word. When he was playing in Saskatchewan, he was going to Illinois State in the off-season. And we all went up to see him get his degree.
“That made us proud. That made him proud. That’s what family’s all about.”
That sense of obligation his father speaks of, the sort of clear-thinking and bulldog-like determination are what helps define Kevin Jr., and have served the Stampeders so well in difficult times this season. Clearly, the sense of respect is reciprocal.
“A lot of people don’t necessarily have their dads in their lives, or they’re kind of a here-today, gone-tomorrow type thing,” says the son. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have had my dad in my life my entire life. I don’t take that for granted, believe me.
“I envision him being on the field after we’ve won. Yeah. Certainly I do. My dad, my whole family. They were there for me in ’07 when I was hurting the most. When I was down. When I was doubting.
“So to have them there if I could win a championship ...”
You couldn’t keep Kevin Sr. away by tying him to a team of wild horses or by chaining him to a departing fleet of Monster Trucks.
“I’d say we’re both jacked up,” says the dad. “He’s not going to show you so much but believe me, he is. He’s a pretty quiet, laid-back guy. Inside, I can promise you, his heart is thumping. He talked to me over the phone after the Western semifinal and I could tell he’s very excited.
“He really wanted to be in that game in ’07 and now he’s finally got another chance to go back and play in it. I couldn’t be happier for him. I know how much this means to him.
“You tell those people in Calgary they’re coming home with the Cup.
“It’s going to be the icing on the cake.”
George Johnson is the Herald’s sports columnist. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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