Kerry Joseph gets the call for Eskimos

Eskimos quarterback Kerry Joseph (centre) during practice at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton,...

Eskimos quarterback Kerry Joseph (centre) during practice at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alta., Sept. 1, 2012. (IAN KUCERAK/QMI Agency)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:51 AM ET

CALGARY - Kevin Glenn asked your correspondent to pass on a message to Kerry Joseph when the Edmonton Eskimos arrived at McMahon Stadium Sunday.

“Tell him I don’t want an old man to beat me.”

Just before the bus left Edmonton Saturday morning, head coach Kavis Reed told his team that the quarterback who turns 39 on Oct. 4, will be starting today’s 47th edition of the Labour Day Classic against the Calgary Stampeders.

Passing on the message, Joseph offered his own response.

“He’s not that far behind me.”

Actually, Kevin Glenn is only 33. And Joseph hasn’t started a football game since Glenn was 20-something.

“It was 2009 in Toronto,” said Joseph, adding that he’s deleted his time in Toronto from his memory bank.

“It’s been a while, but I’m looking forward to it.”

The change from Jyles vs. Glenn to Joseph vs. Glenn on the McMahon Stadium marquee still doesn’t make it Ricky Ray vs. Henry Burris — but it does add some sizzle.

And it also adds an interesting twist in that Joseph and Glenn will now be able to say they’ve played in all three Labour Day rivalry games: Toronto (Joseph) vs. Hamilton (Glenn); Winnipeg (Glenn) vs. Saskatchewan (Joseph); Edmonton (Joseph) vs. Calgary (Glenn).

Another neat angle is that Joseph and Glenn were finalists for most outstanding player in 2007, with Joseph winning and then following up with a Grey Cup victory.

“That was five years ago. There have been four MOP winners and four more Grey Cups won since then,” said Joseph.

“I kid him about it all the time,” said Glenn. “We’re in touch all the time in the off-season.”

Now Glenn has another chance to beat the old fart.

“It’s very exciting,” said Glenn. “I love playing in Labour Day weekend games. There’s so much more involved in it because of the bragging rights.”

But Glenn won’t be the focus now; it’ll be Joseph.

When Joseph was sitting in limbo, out of football three seasons after his career year, did he think he’d be starting Labour Day 2012 in McMahon Stadium 14 months before his 40th birthday?

“Labour Day here in Calgary is a big deal. It’s a great opportunity in front of a national audience.

“I’m thankful Kavis and Marcus Crandell have given me the opportunity.”

Joseph doesn’t think he’ll be nervous — but he does think he’ll be emotional.

“I’m an emotional guy,” he said. “I’m sure those emotions will be there.”

Joseph said he didn’t know he’d be starting until the Sunday morning walk-through in Edmonton.

Reed swears it’s not a football decision but a health decision, despite the fact Jyles ranks eighth on the quarterback efficiency rating (84.9) in an eight-team league — ninth when it comes to completion percentage (58.9).

“Steven had starting quarterback reps during the week but felt a twinge and we had him assessed. We didn’t think that mentally and physically he was at his optimum. We’re not comfortable right now with him as the starter.”

Matt Nichols will move up to backup quarterback for the first time in his career.

“It would be an emergency situation for Steven to go in,” added Reed.

Jyles left last week’s game in Toronto with an ankle injury and was replaced by Joseph, who completed 13 passes for 169 yards, in addition to rushing for 44 yards and a touchdown en route to leading the Esks to a 26-17 win.

Joseph said having played his biggest chunk of football since the Eskimos brought him out of mothballs hopefully sets himself up well.

“It’s always good to get in; it slows the game down,” he said.

So, uh, where does that leave your agent in the ‘I told you so’ department? I wrote at the time of the Ricky Ray trade that Jyles wouldn’t be the Eskimos starting quarterback by Labour Day.

I asked Reed if Joseph was the Labour Day game MVP if he’d be the starter Friday back in Edmonton?

“No,” he said.

“If Kerry is the Labour Day MVP and Steven is ready to go Friday, Steven will be our starting quarterback. It’s not prudent to have a quarterback controversy.”

Uh, coach, there’s been a quarterback controversy since Dec. 12.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca

Twitter@sunterryjones


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