Stamps’ Rob Maver: more than just a punter

The impact that Rob Maver made on the football field was impressive.

A multiple time Grey Cup Champion, two-time CFL all-star, twice the winner of the Herm Harrison Memorial Award for outstanding service and dedication to the community, Maver recently added the Tom Pate Memorial Trophy to his collection.

Maver sent the ball back the other way 921 times, pinning the opposition inside the 10-yard line on 84 occasions.

Long thought to be one of the league’s best directional kickers, Maver’s stats were sometimes hampered by head coach Dave Dickenson who elects to punt in plus territory more than most.

“One of the best directional punters, probably that’s ever played in my opinion,” Dickenson said. “I’ve only been around since the mid-90’s though, so I don’t have much to draw from.”

Dickenson continued with some gentle ribbing of Maver: “He’s been good to have on our team. One of the harder workers, which is hard to say about a punter but seriously, he works really, really hard and we wish him the best.”

Dickenson wasn’t the only one to send some friendly fire Maver’s way who had described himself as coming into camp “20 pounds overweight with an earring.”

Stampeders special teams coordinator Mark Kilam remembered it a little differently. “I think it was two earrings and 30 pounds.” Kilam joked before getting a little more serious and sharing insights about Maver’s commitment to his craft.

“As the rules changed, and there were three or four rule changes, and he had to evolve his game. I really want people to understand that is a credit to Rob Maver. He couldn’t just punt the ball the same the whole time,” Kilam said.

“You used to be able to just drill it out of bounds, you can’t do that anymore. Then when they held the guards and tackles in he needed more hang time in addition to your direction and he did that.”

It wasn’t just rule changes either.

“When we changed our punt coverage to a four gunner look, he had to get the ball in and out of his hands faster. These are all things that took time to work on and take time to evolve and not everyone can handle that and it’s a credit to Rob. He definitely could still kick if he wanted to,” Kilam said.

“Rob was a weapon with his placement.”

Kilam noted how often Maver was called upon to bury an opponent deep.

“If you watch our games, you know that. We don’t kick a ton of long field goals, not that Rene (Paredes) can’t do em, but because (Maver’s) so good at placing them. We can play the field position game and give the other team a long field. It played into our philosophy. He’ll go down as one of the best placement punters in the CFL,” Maver said.

The room was filled with coaches and teammates both current and former as Maver said goodbye. One former teammate, Rob Cote, spoke with me briefly about Maver’s capabilities as a quarterback. Maver has passed for 99 yards and may have had more if not for a drop by his former fullback teammate, the only incompletion of Maver’s career.

“Maver has a phenomenal fake punt passer rating, but that one got away, ok? You can’t look at every one under a microscope.” Cote recalled, tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

“It was just one of those days that didn’t happen for me, and unfortunately Maver took the brunt of that. He could have had a hundred passing yards….potentially. It was getting stuffed anyway. If you watch the film, they had it read. You can pull the tape up. It wasn’t a home run that we missed out on. He would have had the 100 percent completion rate though.”

I also have a somewhat tenuous connection to Rob Maver. He and Burke Dales were the first player guests I ever had on the Horsemen Radio podcast. (Shameless plug: search for Horsemen Radio on any podcast provider and subscribe today.)

Maver quickly became a favourite guest and came back several times over the course of his career to do the show and became a conduit of sorts for any player that would be unsure if they wanted to make an appearance on the show.

“Ask Maver about us.” I’d send to prospective guests. “He’ll vouch for us.”

This tactic almost never failed.

Maver is moving on to the next chapter in his career with a mortgage firm here in Calgary where he and his wife have made a home.

He promises he will still be a frequent visitor to McMahon Stadium and a far more vocal presence on Twitter. He seemed enthusiastic about the prospect of commenting on football “I’m going to talk more on Twitter now that I can’t be fined. Candid Twitter is coming up,” Maver said.

He did take a moment to break down the position a little, and the need to stay away from the sexy stats.

“Kicking it as far and as high as you can is an Olympic event. It’s like shot put. As I look back at my eight seasons punting the ball, in six of my eight seasons, I was no worse than second in net punt, opponents return and punts inside the 10. I think that tells you how I tried to play the game, and I’m proud of that,” Maver said.

Ever the pragmatist, Maver also discussed the timing of his retirement.

“Just because you can play, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should, and that’s what truthfully made it a hard decision. I’m turning 34 in the spring, and how much longer am I going to be marketable in the business world where I can find a fulfilling and rewarding career? I kind of saw that window closing,” Maver said.

“Football is only marketable for so long if you want a career in business. I started to make things happen and this incredible opportunity came up. I went for it as hard as I could and once it became available, I knew this (time) was up.”

Maver also knows that with the retirements of himself and fellow long time Stampeder Brandon Smith, there will be room for guys to step up in the locker room.

“It presents opportunity. Guys are going to grow into those roles…Juwan Simpson is one of the best leaders I’ve been around. Nik Lewis too. They weren’t born into those guys, they had to grow into (being) those guys. Guys are going to have to develop into being those leaders and it’s going to be fun to watch,” Maver said.

Maver was also an incredible advocate for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada as he raised more than $100,000 over the last three years with his Guts and Glory Flag Football tournament.

The outcry on social media following the announcement far outweighed what you might expect a punter to receive. Given his dedication to the team and community, it may not have been enough.

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