TD drought no big deal to Romby

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

It's hard to say what was more surprising -- the statistic or the way Romby Bryant reacted.

Informed he had set a single-season CFL record for the most receiving yards without a touchdown strike, the usually soft-spoken pass-catcher hollered to Stampeders teammate Nik Lewis, then politely asked for a reporter to repeat the news.

"You didn't score a touchdown this year?" Lewis asked, a look of disbelief on his face.

"Nuh-uh," Bryant replied.

"Oh man, that's my record," Lewis said. "How'd you break my record?"

While Lewis spent weeks answering questions about the possibility of earning the dubious distinction before finally hitting paydirt in the second-to-last regular-season game in B.C., his talented teammate quietly etched his name in a seldom-referenced chapter of the CFL record book.

Before being shipped to Calgary in a mid-season swap, Bryant racked up 232 receiving yards in 11 outings with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, although he didn't make a single trip to the endzone.

In seven starts for the Stamps after the blockbuster trade, Bryant boosted his total to 780 yards. Still no touchdowns, though. The rest, as they say, is history.

But Bryant, a man of few words, insists it's no big deal.

"It don't matter to me," he shrugged. "I ain't going to lie, I do want to score and I want my fair share of balls, but if I don't get it, oh well, as long as we win."

For almost a quarter-century, former Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Chris DeFrance staked a claim to that piece of trivia, having counted 696 yards without a scoring a touchdown in 1985.

When Lewis crossed the goal-line stripe two weeks ago against the Lions, most figured the record would stand for at least one more season.

Nobody realized Bryant was also flirting with history.

In fact, the 30-year-old receiver didn't even learn of his record-setting stat line until three days ago.

If it wasn't for Lewis, he might've kept it a secret. Within seconds of finding out, though, the talkative slotback was staring into a television camera and spreading the word.

"I had no idea he hadn't scored," Lewis said after the camera stopped rolling. "I was just telling him during practice, 'People were trying to write you off as a one-hit wonder after last year, and you came here and kind of revived your career and people really respect what you did.'

"I can't believe he didn't score ... He's made big plays all year."

Although he hasn't scored a touchdown since Nov. 1, 2008, you can bet the Edmonton Eskimos secondary will pay close attention to Bryant in today's post-season tilt at McMahon Stadium.

The last time the provincial rivals clashed, Bryant hauled in nine catches for a career-high 211 yards.

He set up three touchdowns in a 30-7 victory.

So what if somebody else capped all three scoring drives?

"Six points went on the board, right? Same difference," Bryant said.

"Whether I put it in or Joffrey puts it in or Cope puts in or Hank puts it, it's still six points on the board."

WES.GILBERTSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos