November 22, 2012

Morris: Glenn enjoying rare Grey Cup appearance

You could excuse Kevin Glenn if he shouted “I told you so.”

You would understand if the Calgary Stampeders quarterback wanted to laugh in the face of every coach, every fan and every reporter who said he wasn’t good enough to be a starter or didn’t have the tools anymore to win the big game.

For some players the temptation would be too great. They might taunt and strut, but not Glenn. He’s too much of a gentleman, too nice a person. The 33-year-old from Detroit is too thrilled about playing in the 100th Grey Cup to get hung up on the past.

100th Grey Cup Centre

The 100th Grey Cup Championship matchup is set, as the Calgary Stampeders will duel the host Toronto Argonauts. Here is everything you need to know ahead of Sunday’s game.

Click here to view page

“This is a game I’ve been trying to get to and be part of for so long,” Glenn told a crowd of reporters Wednesday during a media lunch at the Stampeders’ hotel.

“Words can’t explain how excited I am to enjoy this week.”

Glenn was like a maestro in last weekend’s Western Final, conducting a brilliant 34-29 victory over the B.C. Lions. He threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns to move Calgary into Sunday’s Grey Cup against the Toronto Argonauts at Rogers Centre.

Playing on his fourth team after 12 years in the CFL, Glenn has finally secured a starring role in the season’s big finale.

“That win (against B.C.) and playing this game, words can’t describe it,” he said. “It’s one of those things that you want to enjoy it while it’s here and try and take everything away from it . . . and hopefully take the Grey Cup back to Calgary.”

Glenn, who attended Illinois State, started his career in Saskatchewan in 2001. He saw stints in both Winnipeg and Hamilton before arriving in Calgary.

At five-foot-10 and 205 pounds Glenn isn’t a big man. He doesn’t have the blazing speed or shifty moves of other quarterbacks. Where ever he’s been, there’s always been someone else more promising, someone showing more potential.

What Glenn can do is execute a game plan and make the plays when available. He combines leadership with experience and patience.

Three times last week against the Lions Glenn found open receivers for long touchdown passes. One scoring heave came just as the pocket was collapsing and Glenn was scrambling for his life.

That’s a skill Toronto coach Scott Milanovich said his team can’t ignore.

“He gets hot,” said Milanovich. “He gets very streaky where he will be (good on) 14 passes in a row.

“The one thing that Kevin isn’t given credit enough for is his mobility in the pocket and extending plays, picking up big first downs running or finding a free receiver.”

Glenn wasn’t scheduled to be a starter this year. He came to Calgary from Hamilton as an insurance policy in the trade for Henry Burris. His primary role was to mentor young Stampeder quarterback Drew Tate.

When Tate injured his shoulder early in the year Glenn took over and went 10-5 as a starter. He finished the year completing 325 of 487 passes for 4,220 yards, 25 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. His completion ratio of 66.7 per cent was second best in the league, behind Toronto’s Ricky Ray.

Dave Dickenson, Calgary’s offensive coordinator, wasn’t surprised by Glenn’s ability to replace Tate.

“I am pleasantly happy,” Dickenson said. “He signed up basically to be a backup and suddenly in Week 2 you are the man.

“It took him a while to feel comfortable. He had to be comfortable in our system knowing where to get rid of the ball if they brought pressure. I think he’s been an under-rated player his whole career and he’s had a great year.”

Glenn showed his team-first attitude when Tate recovered and was named the starter for the Western Semi-Final against  Saskatchewan. He didn’t sulk or complain even though he was largely responsible for the Stampeders finishing second in the West with a 12-6 record.
When Tate suffered an arm injury in the victory over the Riders, Glenn was ready to take the reins again.

“He’s been a solid team guy,” said slotback Nik Lewis.

“To be able to step up and step in, it’s been tremendous having a guy like that with so much experience to be able to come in.”

Glenn came close to playing in the Grey Cup once before. In 2007 he led the Blue Bombers to a victory over the Argonauts in the Eastern Final but suffered a broken arm on the first play of the fourth quarter when he and Toronto  linebacker Kevin Eiben both dove for a fumble.

He was forced to watch from the sidelines as the Bombers, with Ryan Dinwiddie at quarterback, lost the Grey Cup 23-19 to Saskatchewan.

Glenn holds no ill will toward Eiben.

“We know playing this game you can injure yourself and not play the next game,” he said. “He’s not a vengeful, dirty person. I know it wasn’t intentional.”

While Glenn spoke prankster teammate Tad Kornegay hovered around, pretending to conduct an interview with a spoon wrapped in a white linen napkin. Glenn ignored the distraction like he’s ignored the detractors much of his career.

“Sometimes you have to step out of being a quarterback and be a father figure to some of the children that we have on our team,” he said.

Glenn has offered some advice to the young players on the Stampeders. He wants them to soak up the week. It’s taken a long time for him to be in this position. He understands it might never happen again.

“This doesn’t come around a lot,” he said. “There are a lot of guys out there that have had very long careers and never, ever played in a Grey Cup or won one.

“Enjoy the week, enjoy the festivities, but still stay focused on the task at hand. That’s winning the game on Sunday.”