Stamps honour Raymond with Presidents' Ring
By Ian Busby, QMI Agency
|Calgary Stampeders Keon Raymond against the Edmonton Eskimos at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta, Sunday July 24, 2011. QMI Agency/Al Charest
As Dad tried explaining how honoured he was to get a prestigious award, little Gabrielle took over the mic.
The 18-month-old daughter of Keon Raymond didn’t have much to say. She just wanted to touch the microphone picking up her father’s humbled words.
Gabrielle is the only one of four Raymond children to be born in Canada, and she will be spending a long time in Calgary now, too.
The Stamps announced Friday morning that Raymond officially has a contract extension, keeping him with the team through the 2014 season, while also introducing him as the 2011 winner of the Presidents’ Ring.
The award is given to a player exuding excellence on and off the field. It’s voted on by the players and went to Raymond for his leadership, inspiration and motivational skills.
The dedicated husband and father is perfect in that respect.
“He’s deserving,” Stamps president Lyle Bauer said. “He sets the standards very high. We want character in that locker-room, and have it translate on and off the field.
“He’s the type of player this team needs, and I know John Hufnagel wants.”
Raymond will be given his ring May 26 during Fanfest at McMahon Stadium, just before 2012 training camp is set to open.
It will be Raymond’s fifth season with the Stamps, and he’s emerged as one of the key cogs on defence, although he never seems to play the same position.
Versatility has made Raymond extremely valuable to the Stamps over the years. Even in a breakout 2011 season, in which he scored two interception TDs, the 29-year-old didn’t stay in the same spot.
When an injury to Brandon Isaac left a void at the coverage linebacker spot, Raymond moved over there from halfback. He spent time there during the previous season but has also played safety and cornerback during his time with the Stamps.
The Middle Tennessee State product joined the Stamps midway through the 2008 season and showed his professionalism during that year’s playoff run.
While Brandon Browner was fighting through a broken foot during Grey Cup week, Raymond prepared to take his place, if needed. Browner played during the win over the Montreal Alouettes.
Raymond watched and waited his turn. Eventually, he became a player they couldn’t take out of the lineup.
“When I decided to move my family up here in 2008 … it was a faith trip,” Raymond said. “I didn’t know what would happen and how things would end up. Things work in mysterious ways in God’s hands.”
Raymond is the first Presidents’ Ring winner on the defensive side of the ball since Joe Fleming in 2003.
He joins an illustrious list of previous winners than includes quarterbacks Henry Burris and Dave Dickenson.
“It was my first off-season last year to realize how big a deal this is,” Raymond said. “It’s humbling knowing what your teammates think of you on and off the field. I couldn’t go on the field with a better group of guys than we have here in Calgary.
“I’m truly humbled by looking at the past winners. Being put on a list with names like those is truly an honour.”