Dickenson missing his heyday

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:28 PM ET

These days, Dave Dickenson has an office and a reserved parking spot at McMahon Stadium.

There are times, though, that the Calgary Stampeders quarterbacks coach and play-caller wishes he could trade it all for a stall in the locker-room.

"I'd play right now if they'd let me," he admitted. "I haven't gotten it out of my blood, let's put it that way. But I'm very much at peace."

It's been two years since Dickenson's final appearance as a professional quarterback. Although he didn't know it at the time, the resilient field general from Montana took his last snap, tossed his last pass, registered his last rushing attempt in a 37-16 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos in the 2008 Labour Day Classic.

Dickenson left the game early and was shelved with post-concussion symptoms, a recurring concern for the father of two.

After being stashed on the nine-game injured list, he told reporters, "Your body tells you certain things and, sooner or later, you better listen."

The next season, he arrived at training camp as a coach.

"I never wanted a farewell, but I wanted to play some more, no doubt about that," Dickenson said after Friday's practice session at McMahon Stadium. "The regret that I have is that I wasn't able to string a couple of full 17- or 18-game seasons together. When the knee problems started at the end of 2003 and then concussions, it felt like I wasn't able to put together the kind of year I felt like I was capable of.

"I really felt like 2005 might have been my best year. I didn't get any honours or any awards or anything like that, but I thought I played my best football. But it's always one of those things -- I don't think anybody is happy with the way their career ends. The odd guy, maybe, but for the most part, the game gets taken away from you and it's about what you do after that."

What Dickenson has done is transition from explaining plays in the huddle to calling them from the sidelines.

With the off-season departure of offensive co-ordinator George Cortez, the 37-year-old has become John Hufnagel's top offensive deputy.

And with 22,913 career passing yards and 154 touchdown strikes on his three-down football resume, there's no doubt he knows what he's talking about.

"Even two years ago when he came in here (as a backup quarterback), you could tell he was kind of evolving into that role," said Stamps quarterback Henry Burris. "It was something I thought he would always do a good job at because he was always such a mental player, a mental quarterback.

"He wasn't the most physically blessed player, but he was always ahead of defences. He would always use his mind to keep that step ahead. He had that strong arm and he had those fast feet, but mentally, he was always ahead of defences."

Dickenson retired as one of the most decorated distributors in CFL history, finishing with the highest pass completion percentage in CFL history, a Grey Cup MVP award and a Most Outstanding Player honour.

And just two years after that last hurrah in the 2008 Labour Day Classic, he's being touted as a future star in the coaching ranks. Along with defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones, he gives the Stamps organization a pair of assistants with rising stocks on the sideline.

Make no mistake, though, this isn't about personal gains.

"The one thing I've always try to do is make these guys understand that I've got their back and I'm working for them," Dickenson said. "I'm not working for myself. I'm only working for them and the team. I'm only interested in that."


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