For Kevin Glenn, it was a chance to show family and friends south of the border that Americans in the CFL are aware of what’s happening in their native land.
Glenn and his Saskatchewan Roughriders teammates and coaches linked arms Sunday during the national anthem prior to their 15-9 home loss to the Calgary Stampeders. Glenn said the gesture was a show of unity following U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial remarks about NFL players kneeling during the American anthem.
"It’s not a protest," Glenn said Monday. "We (Americans) have the luxury of coming up to this fine country and spending six months here playing football and meeting many great people.
"But after that, we go back home to America so we still have to keep abreast of what’s going on back there. It hits home with us because it is home. It (linking of arms) shows the solidarity of what’s going on back home because we can’t be there but it’s also a solidarity approach to show the unified humanity aspect of it. We’re people from all different walks of life, two different countries, race, colour, creed and we can get along and link arms."
During a rally Friday, Trump stated: "Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired."’
Trump also rescinded an invitation to the NBA-champion Golden State Warriors to visit the White House after all-star guard Steph Curry said he wasn’t interested in attending.
On Sunday, numerous NFL players took a knee, sat, stayed in the tunnel or linked arms during "The Star-Spangled Banner." In London, Jacksonville owner Shahid Khan stood arm-in-arm with his players before the team’s 44-7 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
But Trump has his supporters. On Sunday Tom Shepherd, the Riders’ former president who now runs the team’s fundraising lottery, agreed with Trump’s stance during the CFL club’s pre-game radio show.
On Saturday, Glenn didn’t mince words regarding his take on Trump’s statements, tweeting: " trump is the disrecptful (sic) one, he should be fired trumpisabean."
"Anybody who follows me would knows I don’t usually tweet," Glenn said. "But I felt, like everyone else, I have the right to send out a tweet.
"I get tweets about me that are worst than that. All I said was he was disrespectful and should be fired. It’s Twitter, it’s just a way for people to voice their opinion to the masses and show how you feel."
It’s not the first time CFL players have come together. Last month, the Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers shook hands at midfield before their game as a sign of solidarity.
And Glenn said the Riders took great pains to be respectful in their approach. On Monday, the Riders, CFL and CFL Players’ Association all supported players being able to express themselves.
"We cherish our anthem because of the values it has come to represent," the league said in a statement. "One of those values is freedom of expression.
"Regardless of whether we liked it or agreed with it, we would absolutely respect our players’ right to express their views in this way, which is peaceful and does not disrupt our game in any way. If the words ‘true north strong and free’ are to be truly celebrated, we must honour their meaning, not just their singing. We say this in a sincere and heartfelt attempt to be faithful to those who over the years have fought and sacrificed for our freedom by supporting, in the present day, the exercise of that freedom."
Added the CFLPA: "We are fortunate to live in a country where our culture accepts and supports people’s rights to peacefully express their opinions. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees it. The CFLPA supports our membership and their right to demonstrate solidarity. We support all of our members’ rights in this great country to peacefully express their views at anytime."
Glenn is unsure if other CFL teams will follow suit but said what’s happening south of the border is being discussed in locker-rooms across Canada. That’s no surprise considering a minimum of 20 players on a club’s 46-man roster are American.
"Each team is different, I think you could see it from other teams," he said. "You don’t know it will affect other teams but I will tell you this, it does affect every team because every team has Americans on it.
"The topic of discussion is going to enter the locker-room and it’s going to be talked about."
NOT FORGOTTEN: Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Calgary Stampeder Mylan Hicks.
Hicks, 23, was fatally shot outside a Calgary club. The former Michigan State defensive back was in his first CFL season and on the Stampeders’ practice roster.
"We’ll never forget about you brother," Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell tweeted Monday.
Calgary dedicated the remainder of the ’17 season to Hicks’s memory with defensive back Jamar Wall changing his jersey number from 29 to Hicks’s 31. Hicks’s mother, Renee Hill, made the trip to Toronto from Detroit to watch the Stampeders face Ottawa in the Grey Cup game, which the Redblacks won 39-33 in overtime.
"Mylan Hicks, who was tragically lost a year ago today, will be in our hearts forever," the Stampeders tweeted. "A great teammate and friend.
"We will miss you."
RECORD CLIP: The Calgary Stampeders are the first CFL team to clinch a playoff position.
Calgary (11-1-1) earned a 15-9 road decision over the Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-6) on Sunday to remain atop the CFL’s overall standings. The win was also the Stampeders’ league-record 16th straight against a West Division rival.
Calgary’s league-best defence took centre stage, registering five sacks, an interception and forced fumble while holding Saskatchewan to 13 first downs and 210 net offensive yards. The unit leads the CFL in fewest offensive points allowed (16.2 per game), touchdowns (23), passing TDs (13), quarterback pressures (97) and turnovers forced (33), is tied with Toronto for most sacks (38) and stands second in net offence (320.8 per game).
That’s bad news for the Montreal Alouettes (3-10), who head to Calgary on Saturday riding a six-game losing streak. What’s more, the Stampeders are 6-0 this season at home, having outscored opponents 219-88.
Montreal is 0-6 on the road.
If Calgary beats Montreal and Edmonton loses to Winnipeg on Saturday, the Stampeders will clinch a home playoff date. They’ve hosted a post-season contest the last five years and 10 times in the last 12 seasons.
IMPRESSIVE ROLL: James Wilder Jr. is on quite a roll.
The first-year CFL player ran for 141 yards in leading the Toronto Argonauts past Montreal 33-19 on Saturday night. That gives Wilder a club-record 331 yards rushing in consecutive games after registering 190 yards in the club’s 34-26 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos on Sept. 16.
As impressive as Wilder has been, the CFL record for most yards in consecutive games is held by Hall of Famer Mike Pringle, who ran for 425 yards over two games in ’94 with the Baltimore Stallions.
Toronto will chase a season-high third straight when when it visits Hamilton (3-9) on Saturday night. A victory would give the Argos the season series and put the Ticats’ already faint playoff aspirations on life support.
Hamilton is 3-1 under interim head coach June Jones.