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November 13, 2017

Notebook: Kevin Glenn motivates the Roughriders

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Kevin Glenn (5) throws the ball as teammate Thaddeus Coleman (68) controls Ottawa Redblacks' Jonathan Newsome (43) during second half Eastern semifinal CFL action in Ottawa on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA — Saskatchewan Roughriders tailback Marcus Thigpen is driven to win a Grey Cup ring … for Kevin Glenn.

The 38-year-old Glenn is in his 17th season as a CFL quarterback and he’s still searching for his first league championship.

Two of his teams have been to the title game, but he didn’t play for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 2007 Grey Cup game due to a broken arm and his Calgary Stampeders lost in the 2012 final.

Glenn has said that a player shouldn’t be defined by the number of championships he wins in his career. But on Saturday, one day before the Roughriders faced the Ottawa Redblacks in the East Division semifinal, he was asked if he thinks about his legacy as he gets older.

“I think every professional athlete does,” Glenn replied. “That’s the reason why we play, to win games and win championships and build your legacy — not just for yourself but for your teammates. You sacrifice a lot to come up here and band together as brothers for six months and fight to get this opportunity.

“Every year at the beginning of the season, there’s always that motivation to get back to the playoffs and then get to the actual Grey Cup game to win it. I had two opportunities and didn’t make them, so I’m going to try to make this third one a charm.”

On Sunday, Saskatchewan defeated the Redblacks 31-20 to advance to next Sunday’s East Division final against the host Toronto Argonauts. A victory in that contest would put the Roughriders into the third Grey Cup game of Glenn’s career.

That’s a motivating factor for his teammates.

“I told him myself that I want to win a Grey Cup for him,” said Thigpen, one of Glenn’s closest friends. “I’ve never won a championship in football in my life and I want it as bad as he does. One of our motivations is to get him a Grey Cup. He deserves it.”

That sentiment no doubt is felt throughout the Roughriders’ locker room — and the thought of that resonates with the veteran quarterback.

“That’s cool,” Glenn said when told of Thigpen’s comments. “I play for the guys in that locker room and vice versa: They play for me and I play for them.

“When you know you have that type of bond with those guys in that locker room, that’s when it’s special. They’re not just going out and playing for themselves or their family … When you know in the back of your mind that they’re also playing for you as a person and as an individual, it says a lot.”

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Glenn went wire to wire against the Redblacks, marking just the third time in Saskatchewan’s past eight games that he had finished a game he started.

In the other five contests, Roughriders head coach-GM Chris Jones pulled Glenn and replaced him with Brandon Bridge. The only time Bridge took the field Sunday was late in the fourth quarter with the outcome already decided.

But Glenn didn’t derive any extra satisfaction from going the distance against Ottawa.

“I’m more satisfied about getting a win with the guys in the locker room,” he said after completing 18 of 28 pass attempts for 252 yards with one touchdown and rushing three times for 10 yards and a TD.

“I know personally that that kind of stuff (getting pulled) is water under the bridge. It’s never one guy’s fault. We win as a team, we lose as a team. At times, you need to, as a team, do different things in order to get different results. (On Sunday) we were on a roll as an offence and it was a big team win.”

•••

The Roughriders’ special teams didn’t produce any points directly Sunday, but they did set up one score with a new play.

Late in the third quarter, Chad Owens joined Christion Jones as returners on an Ottawa punt. That in itself was new — the Roughriders typically use just one returner — but what came next was the real wrinkle.

After Owens fielded the Brett Maher punt and started to his right, he pitched the ball to Jones on a reverse to the left. Jones took the ball 43 yards to the Ottawa 25-yard line.

The Saskatchewan drive quickly stalled, but Tyler Crapigna’s 31-yard field goal on the final play of the quarter gave the Roughriders a 31-14 lead.

“We worked on it all week and I’m glad it put us in position to go up by three scores,” Owens said of the reverse. “A touchdown would have been better, but we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish on that play. It was an explosion.”

•••

Crezdon Butler is experiencing the CFL playoffs for the first time, but it’s not his first time in the post-season.

The first-year Roughrider played in three playoff games during his seven-year NFL career. The defensive back also was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010, but didn’t play in their run to the Super Bowl game.

The CFL and the NFL may differ, but the thrill of the post-season doesn’t.

“Anytime you get a chance to make it to the playoffs regardless of where it’s at — it could be high school football — you’re still going to enjoy that time, you’re going to value that time and you’re going to cherish it,” Butler said. “It’s the same for me.”