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ON THE 11th HOUR: when the war went quiet
Kevin Glenn officially hung up his cleats Wednesday, marking an end to an 18-year career in professional football.
And he did so as the only player to have collected an entire Canadian Football League worth of jerseys.
The last one on the nine-hangered rack was green and gold, having played a single season with the only remaining team on the venerable quarterback’s dance card.
But he spent that entire 2018 year on the Edmonton Eskimos bench, not taking a single regular-season snap while watching Mike Reilly capture the league’s passing title for the third year in a row.
It was an unremarkable end to a quietly productive career that saw Glenn finish with 52,867 passing yards, good for 16th on the all-time outdoor professional quarterback passing list and sixth in career CFL passing.
Not bad, considering he spent his fair share of time as a backup, which is exactly why the Eskimos brought him in last year, as an insurance policy to Reilly.
While they didn’t re-sign the 40-year-old Glenn over the off-season, he said the final chapter of his playing career was far from a complete and utter disappointment.
“It was a good one. I mean, we didn’t end the season the way that we wanted to at the end of the year,” Glenn said during exit interviews back in November. “We didn’t get into the playoffs to get the opportunity (to win the Grey Cup), but I wouldn’t change my decision. I had a pretty good time here.
“From the beginning, it felt like we had been together as a group longer than we actually had. I think it was just the way the guys welcomed me in.”
But it was a two-way street.
“I give myself credit, I came in as a team guy, knowing the situation and doing whatever I could to help the team win, “ said Glenn. “Whether it was helping the receivers on the sidelines or Mike, if he needed something off the field, in the meeting rooms going through stuff.
“It was a good season, other than us not making the playoffs.”
And that, in itself, is almost mind-blowing given all the pieces Glenn saw when he arrived in the Eskimos locker-room a year ago, on their way to a fifth-place finish with a 9-9 record.
“Yeah, it is,” Glenn said. “When you look at the team and you look at the season, the first thing you think about is we didn’t make the playoffs. But when you go back and look at the games we did lose, and how we lost, I think we were in every game – and the majority of them we were leading after halftime and possibly into the fourth – except for two: The Hamilton game and the Winnipeg game.”
And those two lone blowout losses ended up being the only two home games the Eskimos didn’t win last year.
“So when you go back and look at it like that, it kind of blows your mind,” Glenn said. “It’s one of those things. The season was that type of season where certain things didn’t go your way in a tough West Division where it came down to some tie-breakers and some other teams beating us when it counted.”
Whereas going 9-9 in the East Division last year …
“We’d be hosting the playoff game,” Glenn said. “I’ve been in the league 18 years and it’s always been like that, with the East and West Division, but I think it does deserve some conversation for the league in the future.
“You play your heart out and you put everything out on the field and you come away with a 9-9 record and you’re last in your division, when you could be second, or even first in the other division.”
Eskimos head coach Jason Maas called Glenn a good addition to last year’s locker-room.
“He was a settling force, I would say. You felt good with him being around. He’s seen it all, great guy, great teammate and obviously we enjoyed him, as coaches, being around him,” Maas. “He’s just a pro’s pro. He fit in right away.”
Even if Glenn’s role here last year didn’t always include the most glorious of duties.
“We asked him to do some things as a backup quarterback, our signals are important to us here, and he bought in right away,” said Maas, whose backup quarterbacks often look like they’re choreographing dance moves on the sidelines. “As a however-many-year-old vet he was here at the time, he bought right into that and that’s something that’s humbling, I know, but he didn’t even bat an eye to it.
“I also remember in Week 17 or 18, Mike was sick that week, and he had to step into a practice and thought he might start the game. Up to that point in the year, you knew he was locked in but hadn’t seen him really have to take charge, and he took charge.”
On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge
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