Earlier this year, after deciding on Drew Tate as their No. 1 quarterback, the Calgary Stampeders felt they needed an emergency backup, someone who could take control in case of an injury.
They talked about Joey Elliott, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers pivot who was headed for free agency. They talked about Steven Jyles, who had just been traded to the Edmonton Eskimos. In the end, the Stampeders moved their former starter (Henry Burris) for a guy they felt would be a nice fit. It turns out Kevin Glenn was that nice fit, right choice.
Since replacing the injured Tate in the throes of Week 2, Glenn has started eight games and won five. He has the Stampeders on a three-game winning streak, in second spot in the CFL West division and his passing numbers, especially his 67.4 completion percentage, aren't bad, either. And even when he's played poorly, Glenn has been able to bounce back with a better showing. It's helped keep the Stampeders in the postseason picture when injuries and doubts could have sent them crashing through the floor.
"He's more of a mature player now," said Calgary offensive lineman Obby Khan, who blocked for Glenn when they played for the Blue Bombers. "When he first got to Winnipeg he was younger. Now he has the confidence, the abilities and leadership. I've always believed Kevin is and should be a quality starter."
Glenn, who faces the visiting Blue Bombers on Friday, was released by Winnipeg in 2008 and was deemed dispensable by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Burris trade. Having now spent the past two months working closely with the 33-year-old Glenn, Dave Dickenson, the Stampeders' offensive co-ordinator, has been impressed with what he's seen. In the Labour Day win over the Eskimos, for example, Glenn threw a pair of interceptions (one was returned for a touchdown). But with 2 1/2 minutes left in the game, he capped a 51-yard scoring drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass.
"He's very, very accurate [as a passer]; as accurate a guy as I've been around," Dickenson said. "We wanted a guy that we know can win each every week and because Drew … honestly, the only knock we had on [Tate] was we weren't sure he could stay healthy. I liked Joey Elliot. Kevin's name came up; Jyles' name came up, a few others. But we felt Kevin was a good fit for us personality-wise."
Not that his initiation as a Stampeder was smooth. Glenn had a child born in the off-season and wanted to spend as much time at home prior to coming to Calgary for training camp. Then in the second week of the season, on the road against the Toronto Argonauts, Tate injured his shoulder and Glenn was rushed in. Since then, Glenn and Dickenson have honed their working relationship, discovering which plays work best for Glenn as well as the offence.
"It's been exciting," Glenn said of his time with Dickenson. "To be with a guy who has played in the NFL, played in the CFL, having the career he had up here winning Grey Cups, it's a privilege to sit in the room and pick his brain. … You start to figure out how this guy thinks on certain plays. We go over a game plan sheet and [the quarterbacks] tell Dave what we like and a lot of times we're on the same page. Definitely feel more comfortable than I did early in the season, but I think things can still get better."
Personality-wise, Glenn has fit in comfortably enough to withstand the non-stop nattering of slotback Nik Lewis. Asked who talked loudest – Lewis or former Blue Bombers receiver Milt Stegall – Glenn replied: "The only person that's comparable to [Lewis] as far as being noisy is Avon Cobourne [of the Ticats]. Avon, he'll really like that one, being compared to Nik Lewis."