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November 28, 2019

TOGETHER, THEY WERE SOMETHING GREATER

At the outset, anyway, the atmosphere in one specific, smallish space of a large dressing room seemed as stretched, as taut, as an overtightened violin string.

Curt nods. Strained smiles.

“Oh yeah, a little tension at the beginning,’’ concedes Rene Paredes. “No doubt. I felt it. It was there. And he’s never denied it.

“My locker was right next to his. And we both seemed to be fighting for the same thing.

“Nobody wants to lose his job. So at the beginning we kind of looked each other over, sized each other up.

“But things worked out – as well as either of us could’ve hoped for – and we became very, very good friends, on and off the field.

“Each other’s work made both our careers.’’

Maver and Paredes. Or Paredes and Maver.

The order of billing blinking atop the the Calgary Stampeders kicking marquee these last nine years has been, to either, irrelevant.

Together, they were something more, something greater.

Maver lofting punts with Jordan-esque hang-time to allow the downfield coverage time to its thing or plunging a jagged dagger into the opposition psyche by pinning a punt deep. Parades putting up more threes than Larry Bird, sending field-goal attempts straight and true, right down Main Street to ice or ignite a victory.

After nine years together, eight of those fused together in fan imagination, Rob Maver officially put his kicking shoe in storage on Thursday.

Coach Dave Dickenson was on hand for the announcment. Old retired pal Rob Cote, too. Current pass-catcher Kamar Jorden and Maver’s long-snapper Pierre-Luc Caron. The only pro special-teams guru he ever worked with, Mark Kilam. Other team staff. Friends.

And, naturally, Paredes.

“We know how each other ticks,’’ says Maver. “We’re very different people but professionally we knew exactly what each other were doing. And then the last two years when I started holding for him I thought that made things better.

“We’re great friends.

“I just want to recognize Rene right now. I don’t believe one of us exists without the other. It’s an honour to play with you. You’re going to go down as one of the best ever to (kick) and I’m really excited to watch you keep playing and watch your family grow.”

The story has morphed into local legend, of how a torn quad muscle opened the door for draft-pick Paredes to slide in and how after recovering Maver then shifted focus to concentrate on punting duties.

“We joke about this all the time, now,’’ says Parades. “It wasn’t a joke back then, of course. But if he hadn’t gotten hurt, I would’ve gone back to Concordia and, who knows, maybe never played in the CFL.

“Strange how things work out.

“With the two of us, you’ve to give credit where it’s due. Kilam and Huff knew what they had. Burke Dales had been here for seven or eight years (punting) and they thought Maver and I would be a better combination.

“We’re only a year apart. Maybe that had something to do with it. Teams are always looking to bring younger guys in and I’m pretty sure the salary cap had something to do with it.

“Whatever, it worked. With Huff, things usually do.

“To this day, we’ve both got to thank him for that.”

They’ve celebrated and commiserated over the coming and going of the seasons, the years, joined by a common job expectation.

As Rob Maver takes his leave, any tidbits his sidekick can now share?

“He’ll kill me for saying this but he’s the biggest OCD person I know,’’ laughs Paredes.

“Our lockers are still right next to each other. And they are very different. He’s super-organized, super neat, has to make sure things are perfect, everything has a spot.

“Me? Not so much.”

When 2020 training camp opens late next spring so many things taken for granted for so many years will seem so foreign around McMahon Stadium. No Brandon Smith to take the DB greenhorns under his wing. No Pete Costanza to tutor pass catchers. And now, no Rob Maver to count on to get ‘em out of a jam, either.

“I’m sure Huff and Dave will find someone they believe can do the job,’’ says Paredes. “I only hope it’s someone who’ll be here for the next however many years that I’m around.

“But it’ll be different at the start, for sure.

“We still saw each other each day, of course, but earlier in our careers we used to hang out a lot more than we do now. He works in the off-season. I work in the off-season. I have a family. He’s married.

“Things change.

“We still text nonsense at each other every day, though. He’s still one of the funniest guys I know.

“I know we’ll stay in touch.

“But the day-to-day, that’ll be different. We’ve spent a lot of time together over the last nine years.

“I’ll miss him.”

Even to the point, you wonder, of maybe sometimes tidying up the locker next door – whoever it may belong to by then – should it not meet the fastidious standards of its previous occupant.