TORONTO - Randy Chevrier tugged up his jersey to show his tattoo, the long blade of a knife pointing downward with a biblical inscription. The tip of the knife ends at an actual scar on his right ribcage.
Chevrier was stabbed just over a decade ago when he was a bouncer in a bar. Heading into his fifth season at McGill University, doctors told him he might never play football again.
The veteran Calgary Stampeders long snapper, who'll play in Sunday's 100th Grey Cup game, calls the stabbing one of the best things that ever happened to him.
"I did appreciate living more, I appreciated what I was doing. I was a young man, going into my fifth year of university having the chance to get drafted. It made me focus more," Chevrier said.
"The day I got stabbed I was training that afternoon and I remember later I was contemplating 'Why do I do this? Why do I train so much? Is it worth it?' But that night I got stabbed and the first thing was, OK, I've got to get back, how long until I can get back?"
Chevrier and his coworker were trying to break up a fight, when they were jumped by nine men. One of them pulled out a knife and plunged it into his side, puncturing his lung and coming within inches of his liver.
"It was one of the greatest moments, as crazy as that sounds, because I learned so much about myself," he said.
The 36-year-old from Montreal lists that year — 2000 — among the best of his life. He couldn't work out for five weeks, but then regained his strength and went on to have his best college season. He was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the seventh round of the 2001 NFL Draft and by the Edmonton Eskimos fifth overall of the CFL Draft that same year.
He lists this year as another one of his best.
Despite being one of the most consistent long snappers in the league throughout his long career, he was told by the Stampeders this season that they were going in a different direction — namely Tim St-Pierre.
The news didn't sit well with Chevrier at first. He believed he was at the height of a career that wasn't supposed to end that way.
The Stampeders kept him as an insurance policy, and he vowed he would be the best teammate he could be. He sat the first four games until St-Pierre was injured.
"I'm grateful for every opportunity I get to stand on that green grass and act like a kid," he said, with a grin.
Chevrier, who said he has barely messed up a snap in 10 years in the CFL, might be the least-noticed player on the field in Sunday's 100th Grey Cup game. Unless he does something wrong.
"There's an art to snapping, there's an art to holding, just like there's an art to kicking. The only thing with long snapping is there's no stat," Chevrier said. "The only stat that matters is you get it back there and if you didn't, they'll find someone else.
"There's no stat for it, the only stat is: did you miss? I don't know how many punts and kicks we've had this year, but if you count how many punts and actual points in field goals, that's how many times I've snapped the ball, but no-one will notice any of them unless I miss one."
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