Opposing fans might dryly crack that the play of the Ottawa Redblacks this season has reduced many in R-Nation to tears. Even if that joke were true, few of them have been shed with the level of raw emotion that DeVonte Dedmon showed on Saturday.
Standing at the podium after his team’s 11th loss of the season — one where an inept offence and dog-tired defence gave away a lead he had earned them with a spectacular 100-yard kickoff return touchdown to begin the second half — the electric return man had no fingers to point. He sidestepped questions about whether he deserves a Brandon Banks-type role in head coach Paul LaPolice’s offence. He offered no criticism and never beat his own chest.
When asked about his return score — his fifth in 15 games with the Redblacks, breaking hall of famer Gizmo William’s record of 18 games for the fastest to that mark to start CFL career — Dedmon instead turned the attention to his teammates.
“When I look at them, it gives me the confidence. Going out there when they’re like ‘to the crib on three, let’s get DeVonte in the end zone’ and that kind of stuff, they don’t understand what it means to me,” he said, beginning to get emotional.
“Coming from where I come from, I don’t want to go back so I’ve got to do what I can every time I get that ball in my hand and I’m just gonna do what I can for the Redblacks organization as long as I can.”
Dedmon did that and more in his first game back from injury, providing hope to a team and fanbase that haven’t seen a lot of it recently. He provided even more earlier in the week when the plaid-clad spark plug inked an extension to stay with the club through 2022. Barely keeping himself together, Dedmon explained to those listening why he would stay with a team that has posted a 5-26 record over the past two seasons.
“I love this organization. It took a chance on a guy from William & Mary. I got sent home, came back and it’s been a journey, but I love this city, man, and there’s no other place I’d rather be,” he said, holding back tears. “I knew I had to come back and do what I had to do, run it back from my teammates.”
There has been no questioning Dedmon’s production since he arrived in the nation’s capital, 3,015 combined yards over that 15-game span speaks for itself. But raw and vulnerable in front of the media, the 25-year old from Williamsburg, Virginia showed that the Redblacks might have more than a great player on their hands.
Here, in a five-foot-ten, 200-pound package. is a willing building block for the future. A person committed to taking football in Ottawa out of its latest dark chapter and into the light again, one return at a time.
“I worked hard for this. My family pushed me. It’s… a lot,” Dedmon choked out when asked what emotions he felt being a Redblack.
“I’m just very grateful for the opportunity and I’m just happy to be a part of this team. I know things aren’t going well, but I’m never going to give up on anything and I’m just excited to be a part of this organization.”
There aren’t many players who could say that about Ottawa and actually mean it right now, but there is no doubting Dedmon’s truthfulness.
Forget the bank, you can take those words right to the house.