Frustrated Joseph staying positive

STEVE SIMMONS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

He isn't biting his lip or even choosing his words carefully.

Kerry Joseph doesn't know if he will be the starting quarterback on this Saturday or any other. He goes to meetings, takes his snaps at practice every day and prepares as though he is still the quarterback that matters on the worst Argos team in recent memory.

"Has it been frustrating? Yes it has," said Joseph, who won the Grey Cup 10 month ago, a most outstanding player award and then has had his success all but disappear after being inexplicably dealt to the Argos.

"Do I agree with the decisions that have been made? No," he said. "The guys who are making those decisions are the guys who are at the top. So me, as a player, I just continue to keep my faith and work hard.

"Am I happy with the situation? No, I'm not. But at the same time, what can I do? I can come in here and have a headache all day and wrestle with it. What good will that do? So I come in here, work, smile, be at peace. I know something good is going to come out of this. I have to think that way."

It was all wrong from the start, this business between Joseph and the Argonauts. There was a split on his acquisition from the Saskatchewan Roughriders -- some wanted him, some didn't. There was an incumbent starting quarterback, Michael Bishop, who wasn't exactly keen to be backing up the Canadian Football League's outstanding player and didn't make any secret of his displeasure. Then the pieces around Joseph fell apart: The projected starting running back, Tyler Ebell, never made it to the season; the projected big receiving target, David Boston, never played a game; the new offence under new head coach Rich Stubler and old co-ordinator Steve Buratto never did get going or get along.

So Bishop was traded, the coach got fired and the offence played musical chairs with its starters. Then came the legend. But in new coach Don Matthews' first two games, the Argos were outscored 73-13. Nobody saw this collapse coming, not this fast. Not Joseph, who wanted more money to stay in Regina and probably would like an audible on that call.

But at least, in his own words, "I'm just glad to have a job, working every day. You got to think about that," Joseph said. If he is the typical big-ego, walk-on-air quarterback, he is hiding that now. More likely, when you've played for an Ottawa team that was going out of business, you can't call these the worst of times -- but it's close. He may not have seen it all in his career, but he certainly has seen enough.

"This isn't what I expected (when I got traded here). But when you're in this business long enough, nothing seems to surprise me.

"The true character of a man is not how you act when things are going good, but what you do when adversity punches you in the face. And I can tell you, it has been an adverse six months."

To his credit, Joseph hasn't pouted, pointed fingers, blamed anybody for his one-game demotion as starting quarterback that could continue to Saturday's game against the Calgary Stampeders. Last week, he watched from the sidelines as his buddy, Cody Pickett, was picked on by the Stamps. Joseph was, Matthews insists, great with Pickett during the game. He showed his class; he'd rather have showed his arm and his noted speed.

"I understand (his disappointment)" said Matthews, who was asked if he is empathetic to Joseph's plight of being outstanding player one year, benched for a neophyte the next. "Everybody wants to be the guy ... How did Kerry feel about being the MVP and then being traded?"

That doesn't seem to matter, not with the Argos' season basically on the brink and no starting quarterback named for Saturday's rematch. All Joseph wants is a chance to show what his arm and legs can do.

"I feel I'm strong enough to come through and get this team back to winning again," he said. "It's frustrating to sit on the sidelines and watch when you think you can contribute. We've had a lot of changes around here, coaches, players, everybody coming from different aspects and different personalities. We have to mend that together. We have enough talent here to win. I believe that."


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