Jeremaine Copeland has seen hundreds of players leave the Calgary Stampeders, their careers done long before they wanted.
So when the Stamps informed him their five-season relationship was over, nothing made the receiver happier than getting a chance somewhere else.
One of Jim Barker’s first acts as new head coach of the Toronto Argonauts was to send receiver P.K. Sam to Calgary in exchange for the 33-year-old.
It was imperative in Barker’s mind that Copeland help rebuild the Argos.
“You have to love that,” Copeland said. “Around my age, some guys are getting sent home. I thank God I’m still wanted by somebody where I can go and lead and help bring young guys to where they need to be.”
So Copeland returned home this week, seeing his wife and son for the first time in a month, but with a mission to complete.
He hopes to prove the Stamps made a mistake by sending him away, and Thursday’s season-opener at McMahon Stadium is the perfect setting (8 p.m., TSN).
It’s a homecoming that was bound to be special, but Copeland didn’t know how he was going to feel until it happened.
When coming into the visitors locker-room Wednesday, then sitting at a news conference wearing his Argos jersey next to Barker, the excitement almost brought tears to his eyes.
“I felt butterflies and I haven’t felt that in a long time,” Copeland said. “That’s a good thing. It’s the start of something new.
“I’m eager, anxious and big-time anticipating that kickoff. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
“It’s new to be in double blue on the other side. Right now, there’s nothing else I could do about it, so I wouldn’t change it for the world.
“I just have to be happy I’m still wanted and still able to play this game. I will give it all I can to play.”
No one was more upset at Copeland’s departure than Nik Lewis, as the two receivers had a tight bond as teammates and friends.
Leading up to this game, Copeland commented on how much he wanted to beat his former team. Lewis knows it’s the just the competitor in Copeland and wouldn’t expect anything less.
“He should want to beat us. I want to beat them,” Lewis said. “We’re great friends and we’re like brothers. When it comes to on the field, he knows how I am. I’m just glad I don’t have to hit him.
“After the game, we will sit around, laugh and have a good time. I will tell him good luck next week. Hopefully they get their first win in Week 2. They will have to start the season off 1-2. That would be a good start for them. They would be well on their way.”
The Stamps and Argos play both of their meetings in the first three weeks, as Calgary visits Toronto July 14.
Copeland’s move this off-season is similar to 2005 when arrived in Calgary. Coming from a perennial contender (Montreal), Copeland was a huge part of the rebuilding process.
This change is different though.
“Unlike Montreal, I made this my home,” Copeland said. “I met my wife (Talia) in Calgary. I have a whole bunch of ties to this city.
“They have brought me so much joy being here and playing here. (The people) have been good to me whenever I’m out. They show a lot of love and enthusiasm. It was great and I loved every bit of it.
“I know I will be emotional but I’m coming out to give my all in this game. I thank God it’s early. I can’t wait to get this game and the third game behind me. I want it all behind me and I won’t have to worry about it no more and I can go about the season.
“I’m trying to hold it all in right now, but I will be even more fired up when I put my pants on.”