Morris: Begelton returns to Calgary with unfinished business
Looking out the window of his home in Houston, Tx., Reggie Begelton saw a sunny, 26 C-degree day. He already had checked to see the temperature was hovering around 12 degrees in Calgary.
As much as Begelton liked the view from home, the sure-handed receiver knew his window for continuing his football career was slowly closing. After a stint with the NFL Green Bay Packers Begelton is anxious to return to the CFL with his old Calgary Stampeder teammates.
“In football you have a window,” said the former CFL All-Star who turned 28 in August. “The longer you sit on the couch, that window tends to get smaller and smaller.
“I have to take advantage of the opportunities that are there while they are there. Your body breaks down, the time clock is shortened. You won’t be young forever, so you might as well go have fun when you can.”
The Stampeders have received good production from receivers like Kamar Jorden (48 catches, 681 yards, four touchdowns), Markeith Ambles (46 for 623 yards, two touchdowns) and Josh Huff (37 for 507 yards).
The return of Begelton puts another arrow in the Calgary’s quiver. He already has the trust of quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, doesn’t drop many passes plus brings size and speed.
“Anywhere I can help the team, I’ll come out and help the team,” he said. “I am a team player, I’m not selfish.
“The ball is going to get spread around. It’s not just me. I going to do whatever it is to make us win these games.”
Begelton also brings some veteran leadership to a young Stampeder dressing room.
“The guys that come and ask questions, I won’t be afraid to speak out and give my honest opinion,” he said. “One thing I like about Calgary is we always had a brotherhood.
“That’s one of the things that I want to continue to develop.”
After a rocky start the Stampeders have won five of their last seven games to climb into third spot in the West Division with a 6-6 six record.
Calgary is on a bye this week, then have just two games remaining. The Stamps play at BC Place against the Lions Nov. 12, then at home against the first-place Winnipeg Blue Bombers Nov. 20.
Begelton already has the Winnipeg game circled. His last game for the Stampeders was a 35-14 loss to the Bombers in the 2019 Western Semi-Final. Winnipeg would go on to defeat Hamilton in the Grey Cup.
“If you go back to 2019, I strongly believe we had a chance to win it that year,” he said. “Winnipeg took us out and guess what? Winnipeg is up there again. There is some unfinished business to do.”
Even on a short time frame Begelton believes he can make an impact.
“I have to get accustomed to the playbook and everything, but being how I am, I can do it,” he said.
“There’s always a difference from practice speed and game speed. But after the first drive or two I’ll have that adrenaline running. I will be alright.”
The six-foot, 200-pound Begelton first signed with the Stampeders in 2017. In 33 regular-season games he had 149 catches for 2,236 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He had a breakout season in 2019, making 102 catches for 1,444 yards and 10 touchdowns. Begelton was just the fifth player in Stampeder history to record a 100-catch season and was Calgary’s nominee for Most Outstanding Player.
Begelton spent 2020 with the Packers, mostly on the practice roster but did play one game against Atlanta. He attended training camp this year but was released in August, part of the Packers final cuts.
Not playing regularly for almost two seasons meant Begelton’s body wasn’t subjected to the wear and tear of games. Still, a certain amount of punish occurs in practices.
“There’s a lot of positives that come out of it,” he said. “You get time for your body to heal. At the same time . . . I’m taking a risk every day going into train and I’d rather take a risk playing the game.
“It was a no-brainer for me. I waited as long as I could. I couldn’t wait anymore.”
There were offers from other clubs but Calgary was the best fit.
“I figured being as late in the season, the team you’re familiar with, being accustom with the quarterbacks and the coaching staff, this is honestly the best decision for me.”
“That’s a testament to how the organization treats its players,” said Begelton. “The brotherhood, the comradery around team, it’s fun to play for people you can play for and they will do the same.
“This is not a selfish game. There’s a lot of leaders in that room.”
Begelton was part of Calgary’s 2018 Grey Cup team. He believes the Stampeders can sip champagne out of the trophy against this year.
“I’ve been watching their games and I can see the team is right there,” he said. “We just need that spark. I truly believe I can bring that spark.
“Maybe not immediately on the field, but just being there, (bringing) that work ethic, the little things, I can help.”