Derick Armstrong had at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of the last two seasons, he had 100-yards outings in nine of his 39 games, and he scored 14 touchdowns.
Yet it took only one line in a press release to make official what had been coming for days, that Armstrong is done as a Winnipeg Blue Bomber after he dressed but refused to play last week.
The team released the Jasper, Texas, native yesterday after finding no takers for him on the trade market. If any CFL team is willing to take a chance on the 6-foot-2, 215-pound wide receiver, he is now there for the taking.
Not only has Armstrong's reputation been damaged, but he's also been dealing with a knee injury since last season that requires freezing before each game to numb the pain. That alone might make teams wary about inking the former NFLer.
Bomber slotback Terrence Edwards said he was going to miss "everything" about the man they call Big Country, and he fears for Armstrong's image after only one mistake.
"He brings a joy. He's a joyful person," Edwards said. "Everybody's going to crucify him. For one incident. First time. He's a great person."
It was quite the fall from grace for Armstrong, who needed only six days to go from leader in the Bomber receiving corps to looking for a job. It essentially happened, however, over a 40-hour span last week.
Armstrong refused to enter last Thursday's season-opener after being informed, just prior to game time, that he was going to be a designated import against the Edmonton Eskimos. It meant that he was going to have to rotate with Adarius Bowman and Arjei Franklin.
Armstrong, 30, felt that was beneath him, so he refused to enter the game when it was his time to do so.
"I didn't want to rotate," Armstrong told the Sun last Friday morning. "I felt like I didn't have to rotate, given the years and experience that I've played in this game.
"They didn't give me the most respect and let me know ahead of time, so I just figured I would return the same favour. Whatever happens, happens."
It's believed the situation was resolved the following day, even after Armstrong's disparaging comments about the situation appeared on winnipegsun.com. But when Armstrong didn't show any remorse or attempt to make amends in another interview on Friday, the Bomber brass was not happy.
It led to a heated argument between Armstrong and Kelly in the coach's office on Saturday, and they had to be separated by players and assistant coaches who came running when they heard the yelling.
And that was it for Armstrong.
"The team is always bigger than any individuals, and we'll just leave it right at that," Kelly said on Sunday.
So the Bombers have not only released a potential 1,000-yard receiver, but they also sent him packing with approximately $40,000 worth of roster bonuses in his pocket.
Even though no one in the locker-room has stood up and said Armstrong deserved to come back to the team, that doesn't mean he won't be missed.
"(I'll miss) his jokes," centre Obby Khan said. "He was a good character. He was a funny guy. He was a good guy, and I wish him all the best of luck wherever he goes."
The Bombers (0-1) will play their first game in the post-Armstrong era tomorrow night in their home-opener against the Calgary Stampeders (0-1). Kickoff is 6:30.
SHORT, BUT SWEET
Derick Armstrong's career with the Blue Bombers:
GP Rec. Yds TDs
2006 5 25 302 3
2007 17 83 1,142 6
2008 17 81 1,010 5
TOTAL 39 189 2,454 14