OTTAWA — In December, Kevin Glenn was ecstatic about joining the Ottawa REDBLACKS. Now the veteran quarterback wants the CFL expansion squad to trade him elsewhere.
On Dec. 15, a jubilant Glenn was seen in a family video celebrating after being named a first-round pick by Ottawa in the CFL expansion draft. Following two productive seasons with the Calgary Stampeders, the 13-year veteran was looking forward to leading a first-year franchise and being able to call the REDBLACKS his team.
However, that sentiment changed Feb. 4 when Ottawa signed veteran Henry Burris to a lucrative multi-year contract and immediately named him its starter. Burris, 38, was the CFL’s passing leader the last two years with Hamilton before being released after free-agent quarterback Zach Collaros joined the Tiger-Cats.
“I’ve asked to be traded and it dates back to when the actual situation happened,” Glenn told The Canadian Press on Thursday in his first public comments regarding his situation with Ottawa. “I really don’t want to be part of the situation that is in Ottawa…I’ve spoken to (head coach) Rick Campbell and (GM) Marcel Desjardins so they know.
“I said I didn’t want to do any media because I didn’t want to do the back-and-forth stuff, I just left it up to them…it seems to me it’s been kind of dragging out to where it sometimes feels to me they don’t care. The last I heard was it was at a standstill.”
Glenn said he initially asked to be released, but the REDBLACKS declined.
“It’s the waiting game and that’s another thing that kind of takes a toll on a player because you don’t know,” Glenn said.
“You wake up every morning wondering if this is the day you’re going to get traded, is this the day they’ll call and say they’re not trading you or you’re not on the trading block anymore and they couldn’t get anything done?
“The whole process is tough but you just try to block it out. I’m continuing to do the workouts and throwing the football as well as the other endeavours I do in the off-season.”
Ottawa GM Marcel Desjardins said he’s working to accommodate Glenn.
“I need to do what’s in the best interest of our football team,” he said. “We’ve reached out to a few teams but at this point it’s certainly premature to say anything would actually happen.”
Not so fast?
“I need to do what’s in the best interest of our football team. We’ve reached out to a few teams but at this point it’s certainly premature to say anything would actually happen.”
– REDBLACKS GM Marcel Desjardins
Desjardins said if he can’t work out a trade, it will be up to Glenn to decide whether to report to the REDBLACKS.
“Put it this way, we are not going to release him,” Desjardins said. “We have to be smart and put ourselves in the best position depth-wise at the quarterback position and that’s what we’ve done.”
Dan Vertlieb, Glenn’s Vancouver-based agent, said he’s hoping a suitable resolution can be reached.
“Kevin and I have spoken with Ottawa’s front office on multiple occasions and made our feelings known,” said Vertlieb. “At this point, the ball is in their court.
“We’re hopeful they’ll find a way to resolve the situation in a timely manner.”
The five-foot-11, 205-pound Glenn was 20-8 as a starter replacing the injured Drew Tate over two seasons with Calgary. He guided the Stampeders to a Grey Cup berth in 2012 and top spot in the West Division in ’13 with a league-best 14-4 record.
“I think everyone could see in that video from my family how I felt (about going to Ottawa),” Glenn said. “But circumstances and things happened to where there’s been a change of heart.”
Ottawa is the fifth stop of Glenn’s CFL career. Despite having never won a Grey Cup, the former Illinois State star has enjoyed a distinguished tenure in Canada, being named a finalist for the league’s outstanding player award in ’07 and currently standing 10th in all-time passing yards with over 39,000.
“My biggest thing is an opportunity and as a player I think I do have the right to say if this is a situation I really want to be part of,” Glenn said. “Now, ultimately, we all know it’s not the player’s decision.
“We get into this profession knowing in certain situations we sign a contract and don’t have control after it’s signed. But in my opinion everybody should work towards a common goal to rectify a situation.”
A consummate professional, the well-spoken Detroit native has also endured adversity. He’s been traded on three occasions – including twice on the same day and in another deal involving Burris – led a team to the Grey Cup but couldn’t play in the big game due to a broken arm, been replaced as a starter, released and most recently left unprotected for the expansion draft.
“One of the reasons why I’m here today is because I’ve gone through and been able to overcome situations like this and come out on top,” Glenn said.
Still, Glenn can’t help but ask what else he needs to do to show he’s worthy of being a CFL starter.
“I do and sometimes I don’t know the answer,” he said. “You just have to continue to keep going.
“People can say, ‘Win a Grey Cup and this won’t happen to you,’ but I beg to differ because I think it could still happen to you even if you did.”
Unfortunately for Glenn, there aren’t many CFL teams in the market for a starter. Tate is expected to be the No. 1 quarterback in Calgary but if he’s injured again youngster Bo Levi Mitchell has shown significant promise.
Winnipeg could potentially be an option despite having signed free-agent Drew Willy and acquiring Brian Brohm from Hamilton. Willy and Brohm both lack CFL experience, as does returnee Max Hall.
Glenn is very familiar with the Manitoba capital, having spent five seasons there (2004-08). In 2007, he was a finalist for the CFL’s outstanding player award and led the Bombers to a Grey Cup appearance but didn’t play in the 23-19 loss to Saskatchewan after suffering a broken arm in the East Division final.
Glenn admits he could’ve stayed quiet and collected a paycheque in Ottawa. However, he believes his play in Calgary proves he’s capable of playing well and at the very least deserves the chance to compete for a starting job.
“I could sit back and collect a paycheque…but I feel it’s only right for me to feel this way after the two seasons I’ve had,” Glenn said. “It would be different if I was coming off a year where I struggled and didn’t do what I did the past two years.
“As a player, as a professional athlete, I have to have the mentality of ‘Look, I’ve done enough to be a starter. I’ve taken teams to Grey Cups, I’ve been nominated for the league’s outstanding player award, I’m in the top-10 all-time.’ I have the confidence to say, ‘Hey, I want to continue to keep playing. I don’t want to necessarily sit on the bench.”’
Glenn said while his situation is indeed frustrating, it’s not just that way for him only.
“It also affects my family,” he said. “My wife, kids, mother and father, sister-in-law, niece and brother all experienced the same joy (of Glenn being drafted by Ottawa) and that’s what I think some people don’t understand.
“Your family experiences the same feelings you do when it comes to this game because they’re there, they’re with you when all this stuff happens so they get to see you being frustrated or happy. They know it because they’ve lived it but sometimes it’s hard for even them to come to terms with it because it’s happening to a loved one.”
Glenn isn’t bitter about his situation, adding it’s part of the game. But he feels it’s important people understand the personal element of a pro athlete’s life.
“I understand there are plenty of people who’d die to just have the contract with a pro team, I totally get that,” he said. “I wake up every morning and have for the last 14 years feeling I’m blessed to have been able to do something I love for this long.
“But at the same time, we’re human beings, we still have feelings, we still have responsibilities we have to fulfil outside of sports and that’s taking care of our family and doing it the best way we can. When these type of things happen where an organization now has control over whether or not you’re playing or even have the opportunity whether or not to play I just want fans to understand that side of it and what’s really going on.”