A strong quarterback-receiver relationship isn’t uncommon in pro football, but Elks pass catcher Kenny Stafford owes his signal caller a little bit more than most.
The seven-year CFL veteran was sitting at home unsigned in the lead up to the 2021 CFL season until Edmonton quarterback Trevor Harris stepped in to facilitate his return to the City of Champions.
“Trevor Harris is the reason why I’m here,” Stafford stated unquestionably in his first media appearance back with the EE.
“We were both in Ohio, we were throwing with each other in the off-season and he was like, ‘Man, you look faster than you were last year. You look really good, like you can help us out. I’m going to keep calling (general manager) Brock (Sunderland).’ It was the conversation between Trevor and Brock that got me here.”
Stafford was a familiar name to Edmonton management. After breaking in to the league in 2013 with the Calgary Stampeders and the Montreal Alouettes in 2014, the receiver won a Grey Cup with the team in 2015. He returned to La Belle Province in free agency, but only for a season and Edmonton brought him back in 2017.
He first caught passes from Harris during the 2019 season, posting 30 catches for 366 yards and two touchdowns in seven games, but their chemistry goes beyond the numbers.
“I think we see the game in the same way, we talk the same language,” Stafford said. “He loves receivers that can get open at the top of the route, I love a quarterback that can throw the ball on time and that caters to both of our games. Being able to do that, being on the same page and being able to click, it’s truly a blessing.”
The receiver left for Saskatchewan ahead of the canceled 2020 season, but was released before the start of 2021 free agency. After years spent in and out of the lineup, the 31-year-old feared his career was over until Harris got into Sunderland’s ear and went to bat for him.
It was an incredibly meaningful action that Stafford won’t soon forget.
“This is the first quarterback that I’ve had vouch for me. Not only vouch for me, but make me feel like I’m his receiver,” he said thankfully.
“This time coming into camp, it’s not about me. It’s all about Trevor, for real, because he’s the one that put his name on the line for me to be here. I’m super appreciative. I tell him every day ‘thank you,’ because I didn’t think I would get signed to be completely honest. It was so close to training camp and things were not panning out.”
Time will tell if Stafford can make the Elks roster and deliver on his chemistry with Harris, but he can rest assured knowing there is a powerful ally in his corner.