Rooting for people instead of teams during the playoffs

This is my favourite Kevin Glenn story.

One day roughly mid-way through my second year on the Ticat beat – which was also Glenn’s second year in Hamilton – he asked me to bring him a milkshake. Demanded it actually.

“You talk to me almost every day and I give you all these great quotes and you never bring me nothin’,” he said. “I want a milkshake. Strawberry.”

Glenn has this way of saying things that can sometimes make it tough to know if he’s being serious and I was still, in many ways, pretty new. Naïve even. So I couldn’t really tell if he was joking or not.

But he wouldn’t let it go. Every day for a couple of weeks he pestered me about it. Where’s my milkshake? I need my milkshake. I’m going to stop talking to you if I don’t get my strawberry milkshake. He was relentless.

I didn’t want to give in but I also wanted him to stop hassling me about it. So one day I went to the McDonald’s just a couple of blocks from what was then Ivor Wynne just before practice was set to end. I bought a bunch of small milkshakes and returned to the stadium. I handed them out to the offensive line with the caveat that they had to drink them while standing just outside Glenn’s media scrum. This wasn’t a tough sell: they were lineman and the milkshakes were free.

So we all stood there drinking milkshakes as Glenn slowly realized what was happening. He laughed, faked getting mad – you bought everyone a milkshake except me???!! – then seemed genuinely touched when I pulled out a strawberry just for him.

I got to know KG a little bit over his three seasons in Hamilton. My first big feature involved going to Detroit to spend the day with him, travelling around to all these haunts in his old neighbourhood. I met his parents, sat with his wife at her kitchen table. I watched KG wipe snot from his son’s nose after an epic sneeze in the back seat of his Land Rover, joking about his glamorous life as a pro quarterback.

Last week, 3DownNation’s Josh Smith ranked the CFL playoff teams on likability. I loved that piece but it isn’t exactly how I experience the post-season. As a journalist, I don’t cheer for teams – especially not the Ticats, much to the chagrin of some fans – but I do find myself wanting to see players I’ve come to like and respect do well.

Kevin Glenn would be right at the top of that list. He’s been an excellent quarterback for a long time and a guy who I think has gradually earned the appreciation and respect of fans around the league (players and coaches have always held him in high regard.) I think he’s come to terms with his legacy, whether it includes a championship or not (he’s never won a Grey Cup.)

And yet, I think it would mean the world to him. It would mean a lot to his father, who has a personalized Glenn jersey from every team his son has played for (and wears them to every game he can get to.) A Grey Cup won’t necessarily change Kevin Glenn’s legacy but it would certainly cement it.

There are other players around the league that I’ve come to like and respect as well, usually guys I’ve covered at one time or another. Peter Dyakowski was a fixture in Hamilton for eight years and his esoteric sense of humour was tremendous to be around – the Ticat locker room wasn’t the same without him in 2017. Receiver Bakari Grant is another guy I’ve always enjoyed talking to on all manner of subjects, from free agency to fatherhood.

It’s not just current Riders. Edmonton guard Simeon Rottier gave me one of the most awkward interviews ever at the CFL Combine in 2009 then a few years later, we talked at length at why he named his first child Townes. Calgary punter Rob Maver, Edmonton linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis and Toronto defensive back Rico Murray are all players I’d be happy to see succeed, for one reason or another.

Nor is it just players. I’ve also come to know coaches and personnel people across the league and I know how much work they put in, the sacrifices they make and what a title means to their careers and to them personally. To be clear, I’m not saying I know these people beyond the various stages of a professional working relationship – they aren’t friends in the true sense of the word – but they are no longer just sources to be plied for quotes and information. There’d be plenty of players, coaches and staff currently in the Ticats organization that this would apply to as well.

And so I won’t be cheering for the Riders or Stamps, the Argos or Eskimos over the next two Sundays. Instead, I’ll hope the people I’ve come to like and respect win the thing that means the most to them.

But especially KG. After watching so many of his contemporaries drink from the Cup, he deserves a taste too. It probably won’t be a milkshake but I’m willing to bet it would taste much, much sweeter.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1570 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

42 Comments on Rooting for people instead of teams during the playoffs

  1. This is an excellent read, Thanks Drew!

    • Jacques Barzun // November 18, 2017 at 12:22 pm //

      Not only does Glenn deserve it, but Riders fans deserve a 5th trip to the Cup in just over a decade as well as a third win – which would be the most by any team since 2005 (a reflection of how they have been the most successful team by any meaningful measure since that time).

  2. I think it would take a miracle for Kevin Glenn to win the Grey Cup this year as a starting quarterback (and finishing) but great story anyways.

  3. Dan Bombers // November 18, 2017 at 9:17 am //

    I’ll be cheering for Kevin Glenn all the way go get that cup !!

  4. Agreed ,great read Drew!
    I met kevin Glenn at a Hortons when he first came to Hamilton.Always cheering for him ,but with Ricky Ray in the way…..?
    Good luck to all …

  5. Cheering for individuals is the way to go now. But for me, it’s CJ Gable.

  6. Nicely done. What’s often forgotten is all the work many of those players & staff put in the community as well. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a number of CFL players who’ve attended charitable events hosted by the corporation I worked for – one of the best I met was the late Ron Lancaster.

    • So true and thanks for raising this point. I used to work for a charity that partnered with the Riders and I saw many players give presentations in schools – Luc Mullinder, Weston Dressler, Chris Getzlaf, Neil Hughes, Dan Clark, Nic Demski, a Spencer Moore – and that’s just one charity from one team. I know there are many players on every CFL team that give countless hours of their own time to various causes and community initiatives. Kudos tongues players and the teams for supporting them

  7. Great read. Reminds us that these guys are not just football players but just as human as the rest of us .

  8. Glenn should have have had it in 2007 were it not for an injury late in Eastern final. I would love to see him get it. Not this year but next as BLM’s backup.

    • Lancaster/Reed // November 18, 2017 at 2:35 pm //

      But, but , but , donkey? Why would calgary need glenn as a backup? I thought they had soon to be all stars as their #s 2 and 3? Or are you admitting the stamps depth isnt all its cracked up to be?
      Dont bother replying, it will be more of the usual….. You know, the stuff that comes out of a donkey’s ass.

    • Why “should” he have had it? This assumption that the Bombers win the Cup if Glenn doesn’t break his arm his bunk. When his M.O. is flubbing it in the big game why would you assume he’d come through had he been healthy enough to play? I mean, the way in which he broke his arm is another prime example of him flubbing the big game: as it was a run/pass option, it’s the QB’s responsibility to get the ball in and out of the RB’s gut safely if he does choose to fake the hand off. He didn’t. Which is why the ball ended up on the ground. Which is why Glenn had to stick his arm out for the ball. Which is why his arm was in the way when Eiben crashed down to get the ball. Which is why Glenn’s arm got broke.

      People who act like a Bomber Grey Cup was in the bag had Glenn stayed healthy are acting like the negative is proven. Sorry, you can’t prove negatives and woulda, coulda, shoulda’s don’t count for anything. You have no idea how that Grey Cup would’ve went down had Glenn been able to play it so you should just stop.

      • lovecanada // November 18, 2017 at 6:13 pm //

        You’re right. We do have no idea. But considering Dinwiddie threw 3 ints in a 4 point game, it’s entirely possible that could have been the difference.
        Dinwiddie was as green as they come in that game.

        • But now you’re assuming it’s still a 4 point game, which is as dumb as blindly assuming that the Bombers win with Kevin Glenn. It would be an entirely different game with an entirely different dynamic. You can’t just plug in a whole different quarterback and assume everything else stays the same.

          • Im a huge Rider fan, and I walked away from that win feeling like we stole the cup. Josephs did not play well and barely beat a newbie by 4 points. You’re right, if Glenn would have played it would have been an entirely different game, and highly likely one less cup in SK history. But, that is football. Part of the game is staying healthy and having depth when you are not, therefore SK deserved the win. But I sure am glad Glenn couldn’t play in the final!

        • There is no “greener” than Dinwiddie’s first CFL start being the GC.

  9. no mention of CJ Gable eh? wouldn’t be happy to see him succeed I’m guessing? He’s really the only reason I’m watching games right now, hope he gets a ring, left it all on the field. Can’t even think about hoping a cross-over team makes the Grey Cup, let alone win so screw the riders. Eff Toronto. aaaaaaaaaaaaaand Calgary seems like a bunch of robots so screw them too.

    • Drew talked about some players he got to know. Perhaps with Gable’s spotty health the last several years, he didn’t see him much…
      I do wish Gable well though…

  10. This is one of my favorite pieces that you have written. I really enjoyed KG when he was in Calgary and, like you, have wanted him to succeed.

  11. Once the Cats get beat out, I start cheering for the team I like the most, with the fewest players, and/or coaches that tick me off. The Bombers were my number one. I’ve met Mike O’Shea, and he’s a class guy, and a proud Canuck to boot. Overwhelmingly, CFL HC’s are Internationals. A successful National HC is still a rarity in the CFL, and something to cheer for.

    But as of last weekend, who to hope for now? The obvious answer is Kevin Glenn, and some ex-Cats on the Riders. Yes, they got Duron the Moron, and the Ego in Sunglasses for a coach, but Glenn is an irresistible guy to root for. When he was with the Cats, I did more than my share of dumping on him, calling him a choke artist, or not being able to win the big one. Well, now’s his chance!

    If not them, then who? Blow Levi? No-class Maas? Just can’t cheer for the Argos; ain’t in my DNA, even though you could argue it would be good for the league.

    The counter argument is their previous Grey Cup wins didn’t seem to change the view of the uppity Toronto sports fans, looking down their noses at our bush-league CFL…. The only truly national pro sport. Only one anthem sung at our games, and nobody’s kneeling!

  12. Alex Droho // November 18, 2017 at 2:12 pm //

    Great story. Now I am torn between the Riders and the Eskies. They both have ex-Ticats I would like to see get win the Cup.

  13. Great story..

  14. Lancaster/Reed // November 18, 2017 at 2:28 pm //

    Jeeez Drew, what took you so long to buy the man a milkshake?

  15. I am the opposite of Drew. There are certain coaches and players that I just find myself unable to cheer for. There is no way I can cheer for Chris Jones and Duron Carter. Their arrogance and huge egos make me see red. If Duron Carter is as good as he thinks he is; just ask him, he will tell you how wonderful he is; then he would be a star in the NFL, not needing a babysitter in Saskatchewan. As for Jones, if I never heard his sarcastic drawl again, that would suit me just fine. I hope for a Toronto/Edmonton Grey Cup because I would like to see Ricky Ray or Mike Reilly or C.J. Gable or S.J. Green or Zylstra or even Wilder hoist the cup. Not Jones and Carter.

    • Wait… I feel exactly the same for the teams and personel mentioned – couldn’t agree more with your assessment.

  16. I could certainly cheer for any team with ex-Ticat players – unless they wear double blue of course! By my count Riders have the most but that would mean an all western GC and I’m not sure I want to see that. I can ignore the coaches and even players that I don’t like (Jones, Maas, Carter, Mitchell Dickenson) , as they are the minority in favour of the players that I want to see succeed. I guess I ll know tomorrow who to cheer for! 🙂

  17. Hang on… Drew bought the O-line “small” shakes?

    The personal stories about players and coaches have always been great reads. Prior to Edwards plying the team beat it had been a while since we had that in Hamilton (maybe Jeff Dickins was the last?)

    I’ll probably be cheering favourite players too, both ex-Cats and others I’ve come to respect.

  18. justforkicks // November 18, 2017 at 5:26 pm //

    At the start of the season neither Glenn or Jones were on my list of favourites and my faith in their abilities was scant. They have turned me into a bel13ver! As well I have listened and watched glenn’s interviews and how can you not like the person??! As for Jones, once you get past the twang and the same start to every response who cares how he talks. Actions!!!
    Great article Drew!

  19. Rider's x-fan // November 18, 2017 at 6:02 pm //

    I’m from Saskatchewan and I’m cheering for the Argos because I have no end of respect for Marc Trestman and really like James Wilder Jr. (How come the great Murphy didn’t find him?).
    Plus, I have zero respect for Chris Jones and Duron Carter and can not wish them well.

  20. Anthony Kaduck // November 18, 2017 at 10:52 pm //

    I have been a KG fan since he first came into the league, and I will be cheering for him to go all the way. And it would be sweet to see former ‘Cats Pete Dyakowski, Bakari Grant, Josh Bartel, Eddie Steele, Ed Gainey, Chad Owens, Marcus Thigpen and Mike Edem get their hands on the Cup.

  21. Rider fans may not want to hear it or believe it but there are a lot of Saskatchewan people who despise Chris Jones and Duron Carter and will cheer for Toronto. So call us names if you must but we are a large group.

  22. Rider's x-fan // November 19, 2017 at 1:53 am //

    Wait// and I aren’t the only ones. Take a look around, compared to the past decade there’s no where near the amount of ‘green’ being worn. I challenged two well known bloggers in our fair province to produce numbers from ‘The Store’ because I suspect sales are way down. They wouldn’t even post the request let alone pursue the answer.

  23. Go Kevin…one more shot…pray you’ll succeed…and vanquish the ghosts of the past.

  24. Dyakowski , I’m cheering for Peter ,
    Former great Ti-Cat & character …..

  25. Shawn McComb // November 19, 2017 at 7:56 am //

    Excellent article. I have liked KG since his days in Winnipeg. He seemed to be a very likeable leader. He gave us much needed hope in Hamilton for a while. I have a KG bobble head on my mantle (of course dressed in black and gold). So yes, I too am not cheering for a team colour, but for a person. Go KG, and go Greenriders – KG can’t do it alone.

  26. “I watched KG wipe snot from his son’s nose after an epic sneeze….”. Solid journalism, Drew.

    Tip: How about this instead “I watched KG wipe his son’s nose after an epic sneeze…”

    Saskatchewan are playing the Argos – no true Ticat fan should need any other reason to cheer for the Riders when their opponent is the Argos.

    Nevertheless, good article, and I do hope Kevin Glenn can get the Riders to the Grey Cup.

  27. Rider's x-fan // November 19, 2017 at 8:33 pm //

    No response or denial to my posting about Rider merchandise sales being way down?

  28. I also believe that merchandise sales are way down. They were down by about a million dollars last season already. Will find out in the annual report but that doesn’t come out for several months.

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