October 21, 2019

The Heartbeat

Chris Streveler was on the run – or, more accurately, the limp – for the umpteenth time under the McMahon Stadium floodlights Saturday evening, approaching the hostile home sideline in virtual slo-motion, desperately searching for an outlet to throw to or a crack to hobble through.

In single-minded pursuit, Cordarro Law, tracking the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ super-sized quarterback with the zeal of a wounded, famished bear.

Between the two of them, at that precise moment in time, they might’ve counted a single body part that could accurately be described as 100 per cent the-picture-of-health.

“Streveler, man, you gotta give him credit,’’ Law was saying the following morning. “He was banged up there all night long, hurtin’, but he stayed in, fighting for his team.

“That’s part of being a champion. Sticking it out, no matter how much tough it is. Standing up and being there when you’re guys need you.”

A soft, appreciative nod of the head.

“Hats off to him. That is one tough man.”

Takes one to fully appreciate one.

It’s rundown Sunday, and one sleeve of Law’s black Calgary Stampeders’ sweatshirt/hoodie hanging comically loose, limp, empty, at his side.

“How’d you lose your arm?” he was asked jokingly.

He formed his reply in a laugh.

“Ah, a little sore is all.”

What isn’t, in Cordarro Law’s world? A pity Safeway doesn’t stock six-foot-two-inch full-body bandages. He’d keep the shelves empty in this town.

“This year,’’ he reminds you, in rebuttal, “I’ve played every game. I’ve been fairly healthy. Mostly nicks and bruises. Aches and pains.

“No big deal.

“The last two years I’ve missed a lot of time because of injury. That’s been frustrating. This year, honestly, has been a blessing, being able to be out there to help my guys, help my team.”

That he did during Saturday’s 37-33 conquest of Streveler and the Bombers. And that he will again, regardless of the outcome, Friday at the IG Field rematch in the Manitoba capital, as the Stamps endeavour to remain perched atop the West Division standings.

“I singled Cordarro out when giving out the player-of-the-game-type thing,’’ praised head coach Dave Dickenson. “I thought he just laid it all on the line. He’s not the youngest guy – he’s not the oldest, either.

“But he was rolling out there, playing extremely hard.

“He’s our leader. He is. He’s a guy that takes ownership of his play and of the guys around him. We needed him.

“He was our best player.”

Beyond the 10 quarterback sacks (T-4 in the league), the two forced fumbles and 41 tackles, the pressure from the outside enough to make QBs across the league file a joint-restraining order. He’s the adhesive. The working example.

“I wouldn’t call him a father-figure, exactly,’’ joked interior D-lineman Mike Rose, five birthdays Law’s junior.

“A favourite uncle, more like. Treats you right. Teaches you how to be a man. A good guy. Took me under his wing when I got here. Just a special person. Gives it his all.

“The Calgary way is Next Man Up but at the end of the day you do need somebody who is consistently doing the right things, to show the way.

“He’s that somebody.”

Five-year man Derek Wiggan is more than happy to second that assessment.

“What is there to say about Law?’’ he asked. “He’s our heartbeat. He’s the old guy in the room so when you see him working so hard, how can you not work as hard?

“Football means a lot to him, and it shows.

“Law’s been an all-star in this league. Guys respect him. He doesn’t have to talk all the time because we see how he works every day; how he goes about his business.

“You try to model yourself after that.”

The path to the playoffs has been decidedly different than in past years. Dotted with more uncertainty.

But here they are, in control of their own destiny in regards to first place, home field and the bye.

“We’ve been through a lot on the line, losing three, four guys who could’ve been starters. Before we even got going, some key guys left in free agency,’’ Law acknowledged.

“Has it been frustrating? No. Not really. More a fun, energetic year. At least for me.

“I got my love back for football being around these young guys.”

You see, every D-lineman’s favourite uncle takes his job, both on the field and away from the thousands of prying game-day eyes, very, very seriously.

“I’m six or seven years older than a lot of guys in that room,’’ he said, remindfully. “We’ve got a lot of first-year Stamps in there. So I have to set the example ‘round here.

“That Horse means a lot to me. I’m proud to wear it. I’m gonna play my heart out whenever I got it on.

“And they got to, too.”