Brandon Stewart was crutching his way around the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' media breakfast on Thursday morning, spreading cheer, chatting away and looking nothing like a guy with a slightly broken heart.
While his teammates are preparing for a shot at the Grey Cup this week - a chance he helped create with an excellent breakout season in the Bomber defensive backfield - about all Stewart can do now is watch.
"I'm from Seattle, this essentially is a home game for me," he said, right ankle in a walking cast from a sprain picked up during the East Division Final against Hamilton last week.
"I had family coming up who hadn't seen me play in a while, and I really wanted to get out there and show them what I could do."
That is, a lot of family. It's not much of a trip from Seattle to Vancouver, and how good would that have been to see Stewart in the biggest of games.
What makes the thing worse is how weird the injury was.
As special teams captain, Stewart was blocking on a first-half runback by Jovon Johnson who cut up the sidelines.
"So, I'm going to find someone else to block, and I blocked the kicker [Justin Medlock], knocking him and myself into the sideline," he said.
Stewart, Medlock and the official holding one of the yardsticks all tangled up and the Winnipeg DB caught his ankle in the chain.
Normally it would be a couple of weeks out, but this isn't normal, it's Grey Cup week. There isn't any more time.
You can tell just looking in Stewart's eyes it's really killing him, but he's not going to let it show. Not even after the way he's knocked around this league, earning a chance.
As a rookie in Calgary he played one game. In the second year, one game.
Signing with Winnipeg, things started to come together in 2009 with four games, followed by 17 last season, and a whole slate this time around that produced 31 tackles, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
"It's just a freak accident," he says. "Some of the other captains say they'd like to talk the coach into letting me come out for the coin flip, because I've been a captain all season."
And besides, "it's Swaggerville, man."
"We're a tight bunch in that secondary, and they're all like 'B, we're going to do this for you.'"
For them, Stewart is going to be on the sidelines, looking at tendencies, letting the DBs know if he's seen something key, "give them little hints."
To represent, he and fellow DB Deon Beasley went to a barber and had the Winnipeg logo shaved into the back of their heads.
What Stewart will not do, however, is try to play on a bum ankle, just so he can be in the Grey Cup game.
"I'd love to play, but I don't think my team needs me that much [that I'd play hurt]. We've got serious DBs. We've got depth in our secondary."
And on the sidelines.
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