Kavis Reed was the Alouettes special teams coordinator the first time Henoc Muamba came to Montreal and that connection paid dividends in bringing the 29-year-old back the La Belle Province.
Reed, the current Montreal general manager, was around the ratio-breaking linebacker when Muamba played four games to end the 2015 season.
“His previous time here it was a different look and feel for him. We wanted him to see that progress and those changes,” Reed said.
The Alouettes finished 6-12 and out of the playoffs three seasons ago and it was worse in 2017 as Montreal went 3-15 missing the post-season with the worst record in the league. But despite the lacklustre year, Reed convinced Muamba to come for a visit in late February after his release from the Riders. Muamba spent two days meeting people within the organization, seeing for himself what the Alouettes are striving to achieve.
“I really felt strongly that it was important for him to be here. We can talk over the phone and tell people about the vision and try to sell people on opportunities and our plans over the phone. But when people get an opportunity to see eye-to-eye and relate and be in that environment it helps the process of making a decision,” Reed said.
“The eye-to-eye visit can allow people to formulate their opinion about the organization from an in-person visit, be able to ask the tough questions and get honest answers and be able to say that this is not a sales pitch, it was thought out.”
Montreal wanted to make certain there was a fit that went both ways.
“As much as we wanted Henoc, we wanted to know and feel that Henoc wanted to be a part of what we’re doing and instantly we knew. He got to visit the facilities and see the improvements that we’ve made and improvements that are being made currently in terms of renovations. Understanding that we are advancing ourselves forward in terms of updating our facilities,” Reed said.
“He got an opportunity to sit and meet with all the coaches so he understood that it was going to be a relational partnership. We want him here long term. We want to be able to say that we can make him a foundational piece.”
After a couple days and some Montreal-style meals courtesy the Alouettes, Reed felt there was a strong chance Muamba would end up an Alouette again.
“I felt confident that we had an opportunity because of the feedback we got from him,” Reed said.
The Alouettes GM approached negotiations expecting there to be lots of interest in Muamba. Winnipeg had the talented linebacker in for a visit and there was at least one other mystery team who made an offer while some checked in just to find out the parameters of a potential deal. The final contract was for three years, a break from what has become the norm in the CFL with many veterans inking one-year pacts.
“It’s an opportunity for a foundational piece for a number of years. As an organization, we wanted to provide stability and sustainable success. In order to have sustainable success you have to have stability in your personnel,” Reed said
“Coming to Montreal and seeing the growth that happened from the little stint that I spent here to now it was definitely eye-opening,” Mumba said.
“I really believe in the management here, I believe in the direction that this team is headed towards. I’m excited to be a part of a group of people that want to be catalysts for this change that is about to happen in Montreal.”
The entire Alouettes football staff met for 10 days in January and the number one focus: quality, flexibility and stability in the ratio. Muamba addresses all of those areas in one signing while making the defence younger, faster and more athletic.
“We’re not clairvoyant that we could’ve planned for Henoc Muamba being available. I won’t give myself any credit,” Reed said while laughing.
“We want to continue to have youth but also have guys in that sweet spot in their careers – 26 to about the 29 mark you’re probably in your peek. Henoc, with his playing experience both in the NFL and CFL, brings a lot of stability to the linebacker position. But he also brings leadership for a young core that we have the opportunity to develop.”
One source said money was not the biggest factor in Muamba’s decision to join the Alouettes again. Outsiders have made lots of noise about Muamba being greedy or going after the almighty dollar wherever he signs. That’s not the case as Muamba wants to embed himself in the Montreal community.
“Perception is often reality when it’s not validated. Henoc is a high character individual, extraordinarily intelligent – almost savant-like intelligent,” Reed said.
“He’s very deliberate in his decisions and factors in far more than dollars. It is very important that people understand his intellect and his character. That guy is very, very, very methodical and an extremely, exceptional decision-maker.”