Joffrey Reynolds isn’t exactly the player Michael Feterik will be remembered most for bringing in.
But he’s certainly the best one.
Okay, so the former Stampeders owner wasn’t chiefly responsible for bringing the highly-respected running back north. But he sure as heck was one of the loudest to proclaim Reynolds’ future greatness upon arrival.
“It was just a matter of time,” said Feterik Thursday, six years after the highly-involved and highly-controversial former Stamps owner signed the offer sheet to bring Reynolds to town.
“With his nature of running, his speed, his attitude and his moves you could tell he was going to be that good.”
While Feterik will be remembered for many things, those who were around the team during his tumultuous tenure recall his loud proclamation the club had found its franchise running back after signing Reynolds late in 2004.
That said, Feterik is the first to credit Jim Barker for adding Reynolds to the club’s negotiation list before the former head coach was fired late in 2003.
“I remember seeing him at the University of Houston,” said Barker, hours after his prized back was named the west’s most outstanding player. “He had incredible spot quickness: His ability to change directions quickly. Even though he was about 215 pounds and not as big as he is now, he was more of a scat back. His quickness and the fact he was undersized for the NFL meant he fit this league well.”
Reynolds could easily have been lost in the shuffle and scratched from the neg list when Matt Dunigan arrived as head coach and GM a year later. However, Dunigan remembers seeing Reynolds at an NFL Europe training camp in Florida and was instantly impressed.
“When we saw Joffrey it was like, ‘can we get our hands on this guy?’” said Dunigan Thursday from Toronto.
“We had to wait for him to go through his NFL Europe and NFL aspirations.”
Having played four games with the St. Louis Rams in 2003 before signing with Cleveland and being dispatched to the Rhein Fire, Reynolds became available after being released by the New York Giants in the fall of 2004.
By that time, Feterik had quietly started planning to sell the team and instructed Dunigan to work with a $2.1 million salary cap instead of the $2.6-million floor every other team had. With little to spend, Dunigan had to choose his signings wisely and asked Feterik if he could table the then-23-year-old Texan an incentive-laden offer sheet.
“I remember Michael being very supportive in those discussions — he didn’t hesitate,” said Dunigan, who wasted no time telling the media how instantly enthralled he was by the “jaw-dropping” talent Reynolds demonstrated his first practice.
“It was like, ‘are you kidding me. This is a different pedigree, a different animal here. When we got him out on the practice field and handed him the football it was like ‘holy crap’ - everybody kind of stopped. He was one of those guys who would shut everybody up in practice because of how quick he was and how he could hit the hole. He’s one of those ‘oh my god players.’ Those don’t come around very often.”
Dunigan figured he’d landed a running back he could build his offence around but months later Feterik sold the club and Dunigan was fired.
Reynolds went on to five straight 1,000-yard seasons and the two-time CFL rushing champ was rewarded for his professionalism and durability Thursday by being named the west’s most outstanding player nominee.
The only people happier than no. 21 were the three men responsible for bringing him here.
“My heart swells for a guy like that,” said Dunigan.
“Good for him – I’m proud of him,” added Feterik, who still keeps a close eye on the Stamps from his cardboard box empire in California, which son/retired quarterback Kevin now helps run.
“He ended up being a good one.”