'It's sad to see him go'

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:31 AM ET

It was supposed to be a meaningless game.

But yet there was Kerry Joseph, weeping at the end of the final game of Joe Paopao's four-year reign as coach of the Renegades.

Standing in the middle of the field during a surreal post-game celebration at Frank Clair Stadium after Ottawa's 27-17 victory over the Toronto Argonauts, Joseph wept while speaking about Paopao.

"It's been tough," Joseph said after being asked about a roller-coaster day in which he collected a $10,000 bonus for becoming just the third quarterback in CFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in one season.

Then he paused, lowered his head and rubbed tears away from his eyes and cheeks. Fifteen seconds later and sobbing, he continued.

"When I was at home and not playing football, that man, coach Paopao, gave me a chance. He believed in me. It's sad to see him go."

Again, Joseph lowered his head and cried.

He was asked what impression Paopao has most left on his life, Joseph said, "How to be a man.

"When things are bad, how to keep believing in each other. It was just how he was, not on the field, but off the field. He was like a dad to us," said Joseph.

"He's a family man that loves his family and loves his coaches and loves his players."

The outpouring of emotion for Paopao continued as players and members of their families gathered outside the locker room near the Renegades bench.

Fans bunched together in the bottom rows of the south grandstand to deliver a standing ovation to Paopao and the outgoing coaches on his staff.

"It's just incredible," said offensive lineman Ibrahim Khan about the outpouring of emotion for Paopao.

"Usually if a coach is fired, the fans are happy and the players are happy, too. But that's not the case here, and I think that says a lot about the kind of man Joe is."

Paopao elected to start Joseph at quarterback yesterday to give him a chance to join Tracy Ham and Damon Allen as the only quarterbacks to gain 1,000 rushing yards in a season.

Needing 58 yards to reach the milestone, which also kicked in a $10,000 bonus from the club, Joseph gained 36 yards on six carries in the first half.

HAMSTRING INJURY

He also aggravated a hamstring injury, which made Paopao put back-up Brad Banks in at quarterback to start the third.

But assistant coach Rohan Bansie and media relations director Arash Madani informed Paopao during the third quarter that Joseph was 22 yards shy of reaching the 1,000.

So Joseph came back in and ran the ball five straight plays to finish the season with 1,006 yards rushing and 4,466 yards passing.

"Until somebody shared with me how close (Joseph) was, he wasn't going in," said Paopao.

"He was struggling early. We wanted to play Brad. I turned to the other coaches and said, 'What do you want to do?' You get so close in life.

"Really, it isn't about the monetary thing. It's about an accomplishment. You know, people just saw history there. He's the third guy in a hundred years in this league who's ever done something like that."

Informed of Joseph's emotional tribute, Paopao reciprocated with kind words for the quarterback whose future in Ottawa is uncertain, heading into a club option of a contract worth $300,000 in the final year.

"He's been through a lot this year. Don't forget he lost most of his personal good because he was (living) in New Orleans. He had to battle back," said Paopao.

"You work 30 years of your life to accomplish things and it's all gone. I can't imagine the night he had to lay up and try to figure out how he was going to move forward, just like millions of people down there.

"I appreciate the fact he came back and was a pro. As a coach, those are the kinds of people you like coaching. You just step back and marvel at the types of things they try to accomplish."

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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