Kerry Joseph credits Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed for second chance

Eskimos quarterback  Kerry Joseph throws against the Stampeders at McMahon Stadium in Calgary,...

Eskimos quarterback Kerry Joseph throws against the Stampeders at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alta., Sept. 3, 2012. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:48 AM ET

EDMONTON - What we’re really dealing with here is an opportunity for an old pro to rewrite his ending.

Kerry Joseph getting the start of the Labour Day Rematch against the Calgary Stampeders Friday night is very much about giving a football team its best chance to win a specific football game, a game that has the potential to hugely influence what transpires for the rest of the season.

But this is a story — ‘The Rest of the Story,’ legend Paul Harvey would have labeled it on his old radio show — of a young coach and an old quarterback.

Kavis Reed was around for the pratfall ending of Kerry Joseph’s career in Toronto.

Reed was there when Joseph left the Saskatchewan Roughriders as a 2007 Grey Cup champion and the Most Outstanding Player award winner, over a salary dispute with GM Eric Tillman, and went to the Argos for the big bucks. Two years later Reed witnessed Joseph end up out of football.

Tillman, now with the Eskimos, picked Joseph up at the end of the 2010 season as injury insurance.

“I never burn bridges. I don’t hold grudges,” said Joseph of that brief break. But Tillman released him at the end of his cameo as an Eskimo. His career was over again.

Most people thought it was Tillman who brought him back as a backup last year. But Joseph, presented with the opportunity to start a second straight game almost a full three years after the bad ending to his career in Toronto, said it’s Reed who he most hungers to pay off for the opportunity he’s received.

“Kavis told me before he got the Eskimo job, when he knew he had a chance to get the job here, that he still thought I could play football. He said if he got the job he’d see what he could do.

“I will do anything I can for him!” said Joseph.

Joseph said he found out about the kind of man Reed was when he was a quarterback in Ottawa and Reed was early in his coaching career there as well. And he found out more when their paths crossed in Toronto as well.

“He’s a man of his word.”

Reed said he’s definitely cognizant of the concept that he’s giving Joseph a chance to rewrite the ending.

“There is an awareness of that,” he said in a brief one-on-one chat after he completed his pre-game press conference Thursday afternoon.

“When Kerry came to Toronto he was coming off an MVP and Grey Cup-winning season. He never really had an opportunity to continue on that path.

“He was probably expecting easy access to the Argos locker room. But that locker room wasn’t open to him. They had Michael Bishop and a significant percentage of the team saw Bishop as their guy. There was a split in the locker room.”

Reed brought Joseph back here primarily to help mentor the young quarterbacks and be a veteran backup available if Ricky Ray were to get hurt. He essentially assumed the same role when Jyles came in the trade for Ray.

But replacing Jyles in the last game and a half, statistically and otherwise, Joseph has clearly been the better quarterback. Just like in the pre-season. And Jyles, essentially, hasn’t been better than just about anybody else in the entire league.

Right now it’s still supposedly revolving around injury.

“We had the opportunity to visit with our medical staff and watch Steven Jyles in practice and he’s not where he needs to be. We came to the realization he needs to proect himself from long-term injury,” said Reed Thursday.

Reed also said Jyles came to him Thursday and said he truthfully still wasn’t 100%.

“Steven came to us and said he did not feel he was 95%. He did the smart thing and the right thing.”

Healthy or not, how could Reed go back to Jyles if Joseph has another 300-yard game and it’s clear that his teammates want him at the helm?

If Joseph gets it done, I don’t think there’s any question he becomes the starting quarterback the rest of the way and have the chance to rewrite his ending.

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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