In the end, Calvin Armstrong was the one who got blindsided.
The Edmonton Eskimos released the starting left tackle Tuesday, shortly before his wife Eva gave birth to the couple’s first child, Allison.
“It was just an unfortunate situation. There’s never an ideal time,” said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall. “Any time you have to deliver bad news to anyone, there’s never an appropriate time. You do it and he moves on, we move on.
“Why Calvin? We weren’t getting the production that we wanted from that position, being an import.”
In the option year of his contract, Armstrong started all nine games this season and all but one game since joining the Eskimos in 2008.
“Any time you make a change during the season and release a player it’s always difficult and it’s always difficult when you have a veteran,” said Hall. “We all understand it’s part of the business. It’s not the good side of the business. It’s a great game and it’s a crappy business.”
Armstrong’s import status played a role in his release.
“We made a decision two weeks ago regarding going with two imports,” said Hall, who added import Jeremy Parquet to the offensive line after Joe McGrath was released earlier this season. “Right now, we’re at one import.”
However, Armstrong didn’t do himself any favours after being seen on television turning his back on his quarterback last Monday after Ricky Ray was tackled to the ground, instead of helping his teammate up.
“Yeah, I noticed that play,” Hall said. “We’re a football team out there and we support each other and we’re there for each other. That situation’s not the Eskimo way. It’s not the family, but we’re not making the decision because of that. The reason Calvin’s not here is because of his play on the football field.”
The six-foot-seven, 320-pound Armstrong left a noticeable empty space behind in the locker-room.
“He got to go down to the hospital (Tuesday) night and spend some time with his wife and his new baby,” said Eskimos centre Aaron Fiacconi. “He’s my best friend on the team — it goes all the way back to 2008 when we started training camp together and we were roommates. We’ve been roommates on the road ever since and he’s my only family here. I love the guy to death and it’s an emotional day. He’s going to be missed.”
“Talking to him last night, he’s going to be rooting for us. So he’s still in my corner and I’m his biggest fan, too.”
He’s not the only one.
“He was a real close friend,” said offensive guard and fellow roommate Kyle Koch. “He lived with us and you get to know a guy real well, and his family and the way things go. It kind of hurts, you know? But you’ve better get ready to move on (for Friday’s game).”
That leaves one Calvin in the Eskimos locker-room, running back Calvin McCarty.
“Big Cal, that’s my guy. My locker-mate when I got first in,” said McCarty. “It’s a tough situation for that guy. I’ve got a baby girl, too. I wish him all the best.”