Kevin Glenn has no regrets about his decision to join the Eskimos this season.
An 18-year CFL veteran, he didn’t get a chance to win his first Grey Cup championship, and he missed the playoffs for only the fifth time in his career.
The 39-year-old quarterback, who ranks sixth overall on the CFL’s all-time passing charts with 52,867 yards and seventh with 293 touchdown passes, didn’t even take a single snap during any of the Eskimos’ first 17 regular-season games and may not get any action in Saturday’s 2 p.m. contest against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium.
Head Coach Jason Maas said earlier this week that starting quarterback Mike Reilly “is going to play and finish” when the Eskimos wrap up the regular season.
But Glenn will be able to make a claim that no other player in the history of the CFL may ever duplicate. Just like the rare baseball player who gets an opportunity to play all nine positions during the course of a single game, Glenn has been officially a member of every CFL team.
“I never played for Ottawa (2013) or Toronto (2004), but I’ve been affiliated with every team,” he said. “I was on both Ottawa’s and Toronto’s roster, and they traded me before the season started.
“It’s a real cool thing to be the only one in CFL history actually to do it. I’ll always be involved with CFL trivia.
“Some people say, ‘Oh, you’ve been on every team. Is that fun?’ It kind of is because I’ve been able to experience a lot,” Glenn added. “At the same time, my family has been able to experience basically every city in Canada. I have two young children (nine-year-old son Kaleb and six-year-old daughter Dylan) and a wife (Asha) who follow me in the summertime, who come up here and live and visit and have been to Grey Cups. They get to experience it, too.
“Some people in their lifetime don’t ever get to experience anything like that. They don’t even get a chance to visit another country while my family has had a chance actually to live in it for years. It was cool to me. I enjoyed it.
“My (other) family members still keep up with me,” he continued. “I’ve been up here for so long, and there are a lot more Canadian football fans down in the U.S. because of it, so I think I’ve done a pretty good job.”
To quickly recap, Glenn started his career with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2001. After three seasons, he was traded to the Toronto Argonauts and then moved again to Winnipeg a few hours later. He spent five seasons with the Bombers and led the team to the Grey Cup in 2007, but didn’t get to play in the championship game after breaking his left arm while trying to recover a fumble in the East Division Final.
He signed with Hamilton in 2009 almost two weeks after being released by Winnipeg and played three years with the Tiger-Cats. He was traded to Calgary and played with the Stampeders in 2012-13, then was selected in the Ottawa RedBlacks’ expansion draft in December 2013 only to be traded to the BC Lions before the start of the 2014 season.
Glenn returned to Saskatchewan as a free agent in 2015 but was dealt to the Montreal Alouettes at the trade deadline in October. After 14 games with the Als over the 2015-16 seasons, he was traded for a sixth time in his career to Winnipeg in September 2016. Released before he became a free agent after that season, Glenn signed with the Riders in January 2017 and was released almost exactly a year later.
“Once you understand the situation, you get used to it because you know there’s never a situation that’s promised to you,” Glenn said about the discomfort of being traded to a new team. “You have to understand it’s all business and you never take it personal. Once you figure that out and you don’t worry about things you can’t control, it’s easy. It’s like smooth sailing. If you get traded, you get traded. Sometimes, it’s not in your control.”
Glenn made sure that the Eskimos knew they were a target during the off-season because “Edmonton was the last team on a list.”
“That played a part in me signing here,” he said. “You don’t always get that type of opportunity, so when it came, I took advantage of it.”
Of course, getting to create a trivia question about being the only player to be an official member of all nine CFL teams wasn’t the only reason he signed with the Eskimos on Jan. 15, 2018. He either knew or felt comfortable with a lot of the players and coaches who were already in Edmonton and he believed that the Green and Gold would be a contender.
“I wanted to go to a team that I felt was a good team,” he said. “The year before this, they were in the West (Division) Final and seconds away from going to the Grey Cup. Vice versa, I was with Sask, and we were seconds away from going to the Grey Cup (from the East Division). That had a part to play in it.”
The 106th Grey Cup being played in Edmonton on Nov. 25 was also a factor.
“It was just one of those things that I felt was a pretty good situation to come into,” he said. “At the time, it felt like the right decision. I wouldn’t change it.”
The Eskimos got off to a good start, winning five of their first seven games and six of their first nine, but fell into a deep slump in the second half and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and just the third time in the last 11 years.
While the Esks are confined to last place in the West Division regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s game, they need a win to salvage a .500 record (9-9). As it is, since the cross-over era started in 1996, Edmonton is the only team besides the 2014 Argos to win as many as eight games and not make the playoffs. Among West Division teams, the Eskimos will have the best record (either 9-9 or 8-10) ever to not be in the playoffs.
“We have a lot of talented guys on this team,” Glenn said. “Sometimes, that’s not enough. Sometimes, you have to have other things happen and have the ball bounce your way in certain situations in order to be successful.
“We were pretty much rolling,” he continued about the start of the season. “We went into kind of a slump and just couldn’t get back out of it. It was win here and lose, lose, lose and win here and lose, lose, lose. We didn’t have a really good second half of the season, and sometimes it happens.
“But if you look back, there were only two games out of 17 in the whole season where we were actually just beat, and that was the Hamilton game here and the Winnipeg game here. Other than that, we were in every game, up in some going into the fourth quarter and lost in the fourth quarter.
“Sometimes, that kind of stuff happens. You just have to have a short memory. After this game is over, move over to the next season.”
While Glenn knew that playing opportunities would likely be limited in Edmonton with the league’s reigning Most Outstanding Player, Mike Reilly, as the starting quarterback, he admitted that it was a “different” type of season for him because he hasn’t touched the field during any game other than the pre-season.
“Every year I’ve been in the league, I’ve actually played in games and multiple games, consecutive games,” he said. “You know the situation when you get into it, but at the same time, you always want that opportunity to play.
“I still enjoy coming in to work every day and to practice and doing everything that I could to help the guys who were playing be successful.”
Glenn denied that he was looking at the Esks as possibly his last chance to win a Grey Cup.
“Everybody plays to get into the playoffs and play for a championship,” he said. “You never know who’s going to get there or how you’re going to get there and all that. You play the season.
“No Grey Cups are won in the off-season, but you want to get yourself positioned on a team that has a shot, and at the time, what (the Eskimos) were doing as far as the signing of players, I had an understanding of what type of offence they were running, that’s where I wanted to be.”
Asked about his career highlights, Glenn said there’s “a pretty long list of things,” from playing his first game with Saskatchewan and beating the Argos in Toronto to just getting an opportunity to play in his rookie season and learning to understand the CFL game and get some experience.
“From there to playing in the playoffs for the first time when I was in Sask to being traded. I had never experienced that. One of the biggest highlights was the game-winning touchdown (on the final play) here in Edmonton, the pass to Milt Stegall (in 2006). I think it was 100 yards. That and being involved in going to the Grey Cup (in ’07). It’s not a highlight, but it’s something I still remember when I broke my arm in the East Final and then came back from that.”
If Glenn gets an opportunity to play Saturday, he will join former Eskimos Eddie Brown and Jason Armstead as the only players to see on-field action with seven different CFL teams.
Glenn is hoping to still create more memories as a player.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “It’s one of those things as a player when you get to this stage in your career, and it’s not always up to you, so you’ve got to have a situation that’s good for you and good for the organization at the same time.
“I’ll weigh my options. I’m having a conversation with (Eskimos) management here, and we’ll see what happens.”
Glenn has also started looking down the road past the end of his playing career.
“There’s a couple of things outside of football that I kind of have lined up that I could do,” he said. “I would definitely like to try to stay in football once it’s all done. I’ve thought about coaching. I’ve thought about management, going that route.
“I think there’s a place for ex-players in management, and there needs to be more who want to take that route, but also get an opportunity to take that route. It could be in scouting, in football ops in general.
“Sometimes as players, they kind of get outcasted as ‘Oh, you were just a player. You don’t necessarily understand the management part,’ ” Glenn said. “But I think some players do. Some players have a bigger picture and understand the difference. And when you have a guy who has actually played for so long to move into management, you get a guy who can mend the bridge. A lot of times, people have this notion of ‘Oh, it’s management versus players.’ But if you have someone who can mend that gap to where they function without not trusting each other or thinking us-them, I think that would be a good thing.”
Glenn admitted that management shouldn’t just hand out post-career jobs to any player, “but to people who want to get into that type of atmosphere as far as sports goes. We put a lot into this game as players. Some guys might be pretty good in that role. I think it could be done in the right situation.”
Glenn has some good examples to follow if he wants to take that route. Former Eskimos players Ed Hervey and Kavis Reed are among the only three black general managers in CFL history. Roy Shivers is the other one.