THE CANADIAN PRESS
CALGARY — Calgary Stampeders quarterback Drew Tate says he didn’t remember the first half of the CFL West Division semifinal because he wanted to erase it from his memory, not because of a concussion.
Tate issued a statement Monday clarifying comments he’d made both at halftime and following the previous day’s 36-30 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Tate got to his feet slowly after a helmet-to-helmet hit from Saskatchewan’s Tearrius George early in the second quarter.
He told TSN at the half "I got hit in the head. I don’t remember the first half" and repeated to reporters after the game: "I got my bell rung. I don’t remember the first half."
But Tate also stated during his post-game comments that he wasn’t concussed, sparking confusion over whether the quarterback had sustained a serious head injury or not.
Stampeders head coach and general manager John Hufnagel told reporters Monday that Tate passed all concussion tests "with flying colours."
The players had the day off from the practice field, but Tate revealed in the statement that his amnesia was self-induced and not from a blow to the head.
"I got dinged in the second quarter and there was some fuzziness on that drive, but I obviously knew what I was doing and had no problems," Tate said. "By the time I got to the sideline and talked to everyone, I felt fine.
"The reason I said I didn’t remember anything from the first half was because we didn’t play great and I just wanted to move on. Looking back, I answered that question way too casually, but it was because I just wanted to go start warming up for the second half. For me, I meant it like forgetting about a play and moving on to the next play during a game.
"After the game, I told media guys that I was having a hard time concentrating when they were asking questions. There was just so much adrenaline from winning the game, from everything that happened during the week with my family, with being named the starter.
"Again, I answered questions about the hit too casually because it wasn’t a big deal to me. I just said whatever because the moment was very overwhelming."
With Tate’s status for next Sunday’s West Division final in Vancouver versus the B.C. Lions now clear, his performance in the semifinal indicates the quarterback can weather a storm.
Tate felt emotional strain Sunday. His grandmother died last week and he was unable to attend her funeral Saturday in the U.S. because of the football game.
His one previous CFL playoff game did not go well. Tate was replaced by Henry Burris after the first half of last season’s West semifinal loss to Edmonton.
The 28-year-old from Baytown, Texas, was sidelined 14 games this season with a shoulder dislocation and subsequent surgery. Backup Kevin Glenn went 9-5 during Tate’s absence.
The two quarterbacks split duties for the final two games of the regular season before Hufnagel decided Tate had reclaimed his No. 1 status.
Tate hit Romby Bryant with a 68-yard touchdown pass in the dying seconds of Sunday’s white-knuckle game. The Stampeders quarterback completed 22-of-36 passes for 363 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
While it’s true Tate had more success moving the ball in the second half, Calgary still held a 19-16 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, Tate dodged a sea of green and white jerseys to get a 17-yard pass away to Maurice Price. Tate went 5-for-5 in passing for 68 yards on that drive to make it 26-16 for the hosts.
"He did what we need him to do that other guys maybe aren’t able to and that’s extend plays," Stampeders offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson said. "It doesn’t look pretty, but we get touchdowns out of it. He runs a route and kind of pulls things out of his hat.
"Basically he needs to be tightening his reads, but knowing the pressure he was under because the last playoff game didn’t go his way, it was a great performance. I think he’ll get better too. That’s why the decision was made to play him and hopefully that works out for us."
Tate threw the odd long ball to no one Sunday. Hufnagel wants that to stop.
"I would like to see him … see the receiver more clearly before he throws it and I’m talking about his long throws down the field where the receivers are going in and deep and he’s throwing it outside," Hufnagel explained.
"It’s always dangerous when you’re throwing the ball deep and your receiver is not in the same area code."
George led with his head upon contact with Tate. The former Stampeder was slapped with a roughing-the-passer penalty but Hufnagel wasn’t calling for supplemental discipline.
"He lowered his head. You would like players not to do that," Hufnagel said. "I don’t think he did it intentionally. I know (George) obviously and I just don’t think he’s that type of player.
"If the league feel it needs to be dealt with, they’ll deal with it."
Tate may have been flippant about getting his "bell rung" but concussions in contact sport are considered serious now because of the link between repeated concussions and the degenerative brain condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE.
Memory loss is a common symptom of a concussion, according to the Mayo Clinic website.