WINNIPEG – Scapegoats are hardly a rarity in pro sports. They’re particularly common in the Canadian Football League.
Calgary Stampeders Head Coach Dave Dickenson gets blamed for using his backup quarterback in a crucial late-game play in Toronto which might’ve cost the Stamps the 2016 Grey Cup. A whole lot of people including Kavis Reed, Sean Lucas, and Jason Armstead still get blamed for the 13th man fiasco which lost the Saskatchewan Roughriders the 2009 Grey Cup.
A man in Regina dumped manure near Paul McCallum’s house for missing a short field goal in overtime of a losing cause for the Riders at the western final in 2004 and some Argo fans over 50 still unbelievably haven’t forgiven the late Leon McQuay for fumbling away Grey Cup ’71.
Kamar Jorden Moving Past Grey Cup Gaffe
They’ve all had their cross to bear but few have ever had to wear it quite like the Stampeders Kamar Jorden.
For those who don’t remember, it was Jorden’s fumble in last November’s Grey Cup that turned out to be the Argo bounce picked up by defender Cassius Vaughn and returned 109 yards for the touchdown that turned the tide in an eventual Toronto Grey Cup win.
It was a collapse of epic proportions.
But 4 months later, Kamar swears it doesn’t keep him up at night any longer.
“I think I’m passed it.” the plucky wide receiver told Lastwordonsports.com at this year’s CFL Week in Winnipeg Friday. He’s as frustrated as anybody with his team’s propensity to blow Grey Cups after steamrolling through the regular season and western final. But after being the bridesmaids for 2 straight years, he does offer a solution.
“I feel like if it was just the one loss then that’s one thing, but the fact that we lost two?! I feel like you kind of got to get back to basics of just playing football. I think last year was redemption, redemption, redemption. The was our word. And I feel like now is more about just getting back to the basics. Playing your game. One game at a time.”
Jorden shares the frustration of Calgary football fans with the team’s downhill slide at the end of the regular season with 3 straight losses after first-place was already wrapped up. He admits complacency was part of the problem but blames the Grey Cup choking from the past 2 years on players getting too caught up in the moment.
“I think the guys just got to focus and kind of remember to play Calgary football and not play of outside of what we do. What got us there. I think sometimes guys might want to try to do a little more or do too much because of the big stage. I’m not even saying anybody in general. I’m just speaking in general. Sometimes you could let the pressure get to you when you’re playing in a big game like that. I feel like when you get to that game, you got to remember what you did that season and what got you there and that’s what gets you over the hump. And that’s what we got to do the next time we go to the Grey Cup.”
Player Changes in Cowtown
Jorden was thrown under the bus in a 2017 Grey Cup postgame locker room interview with teammate and fellow receiver Marquay McDaniel. His quarterback, Bo Levi Mitchell, was sacked by another teammate, Jerome Messam via twitter a month later.
Both McDaniel and Messam are now gone from the team.
Does Kamar like those changes?
“I can’t speak on that.” he says with a grin. “I felt like we had a great team. But one thing I will say is we all trust Huff (Stampeder GM John Hufnagel) and we all trust the system and the mentality that we have in Calgary. We believe that guys can come in and fill the places and we’ll be successful, regardless of who’s on the roster.”
Figuring out how to get over the hump with the most talented team in the league might be the toughest thing to figure out in all of sport.
But if the Stampeders figure it out in November, it will surely go a long way to allowing Jorden and company to finally heal from the Grey Cup gaffe collapse of 2017.