CFL Pass

FRIESEN: Kevin Glenn looks back at one-of-a-kind CFL career

It’s two days after he announced his retirement from football, and Kevin Glenn is on the line from Detroit.

The plan was to conduct an interview with a Winnipeg sportswriter who covered his best years as a quarterback.

The only trouble was the Saskatchewan Roughriders had just called. They wanted to talk to Glenn about possibly suiting up again, after starter Zach Collaros was injured in the first game of the season.

It ultimately didn’t work out with the Riders, but if that isn’t the perfect summation of Glenn’s career, I don’t know what is.

If Glenn ever writes the book he says he’d like to write, the working title has to be Have Arm, Will Travel.

The only player to be a member of all nine current CFL teams – he actually suited up for seven of them and started for six -No. 5 retires as No. 6 on the all-time list for passing yards, ahead of Ron Lancaster.

“The only hard part about it was knowing that I could still play,” Glenn said of the decision to call it quits after 18 seasons. “But at the end of the day, I was at peace.”

When the Riders called on Friday, though, he had to listen.

As with the other teams who showed interest in the off-season, the deal had to make sense. Being paid a minimal salary whether he’d play or not doesn’t.

“I’ve done that enough over 18 years,” Glenn said. “I’ve had times where I was the guy, and I’ve had times where I was the backup. I’ve had some times when I was the third guy. And at this point it was time for me to say, ‘No, this is the situation I want.’

“And if it doesn’t work out for either party, then I’m content.”

It might not have been a storybook ending. After all, Glenn rides into the sunset without that elusive Grey Cup ring, and didn’t throw a single pass in his final season, playing behind Mike Reilly in Edmonton last year.

But it’s still been a hell of a story, ending, fittingly enough, with an announcement on a sports show in Regina the day Glenn turned 40.

So does that mean Glenn will retire as a Rider, where he began his career in 2001?

He remained coy on that, hinting he may not have decided, yet, adding he’ll weigh “a little bit of everything.”

“The time I spent at the place, the success I had there. That and just your gut feeling. Go with your gut. I’ll probably contact the team and do the one-day contract thing and see if we can make a big deal out of it.

“You could probably scratch out Toronto or Ottawa.”

He laughed, no doubt recalling how he was only a member of the Argos for an hour or two before being flipped to Winnipeg in 2004. Or how the Redblacks chose him in the 2013 expansion draft, only to ship him to B.C. before the season began.

Seems to me it’s a no-brainer.

Glenn started more games with the Bombers than anyone, enjoying some of his greatest moments in blue and gold, including what he calls No. 1: The 100-yard, game-winning touchdown toss to Milt Stegall in Edmonton, in 2006.

One of his lowest lows also came with the Bombers: The broken arm in the East Final that kept him out of the 2007 Grey Cup game – and likely cost the Bombers a title.

It’s hard to overstate the significance of that break, and how it affected both Glenn’s legacy and a Winnipeg franchise that’s now gone 28 years without a championship.

“A lot of things would have been different,” Glenn acknowledged. “I don’t think (coach) Doug Berry would have been fired as easily the next year. Which I don’t think he should have been. It would have been a little different around Winnipeg right now. The city itself would have been different, knowing they had a Cup in ’07.”

He didn’t say the fans wouldn’t be as harsh as they are, so I’ll say it for him.

As for his own legacy, Glenn seems perfectly happy with how it’s all gone down.

He only suited up in one Grey Cup game, for Calgary in 2012, and lost.

But don’t tell him there’s something missing in his pro career.

“I would never let a trophy or a piece of iron define who I am and say that I’m not complete,” he said. “A team wins it.”

Don’t tell him he’s had bad luck, either.

“Bad luck is not having some place to stay. Or being homeless and not having something to eat. Losing a football game is not bad luck.”

He’s proud of what he did in five years in Winnipeg, proud to have helped turn around a bad Hamilton team in ’09.

Getting the Stampeders to the 2012 Grey Cup ranks as his No. 2 moment, behind the 100-yard play to Stegall.

Eventually Glenn became the ultimate hired gun, parachuted into emergency situations when starters got hurt.

The guy passed for at least 3,900 yards with five different teams, surpassing 5,000 yards twice on his way to 52,867 in all.

As for how he’d like to be remembered?

“As the ultimate team guy in the ultimate team sport,” he said.

For now, he’ll just be dad to his two kids, 10-year-old son Kaleb and daughter Dylan, who’s seven, and husband to his wife, Asha.

He’ll likely get into coaching high school ball around home. But wherever he goes, he’ll take a piece of Canada with him.

All of it.

“It was a ton of fun,” Glenn said. “A great experience, and not even just for me. The exposure of me being over there that I was able to give to my family, it’s priceless.”


A look at Kevin Glenn’s incredible career:

– June, 2001: Signed with Saskatchewan.

– March, 2004: Traded to Toronto then Winnipeg on the same day in a three-way deal.

– March, 2009: Signed by Hamilton.

– January, 2010: Traded to Calgary.

– December, 2013: Selected by Ottawa in expansion draft.

– May, 2013: Traded to B.C.

– February, 2015: Signed by Saskatchewan.

– October, 2015: Traded to Montreal.

– September, 2016: Traded to Winnipeg.

– January, 2017: Signed by Saskatchewan.

– January, 2018: Signed by Edmonton.

– June 12, 2019: Announced retirement.

The Numbers
CFL Seasons: 18 CFL
Teams: Nine
CFL Teams Dressed For: Seven
CFL Teams Started For: Six Grey Cup
Games Dressed/Played: One
Grey Cup Games Won: Zero
Career Passing Yards: 52,867 (sixth all-time)
Career Touchdown Passes: 293 (seventh, all-time)
Career Interceptions: 201 (ninth, all-time)
Career Record as Starter: 103-104-1 (one of just nine QB’s with 100 wins)
Traded: Five times
Released: Four times