It’s been eight years since an ill-timed piece of laundry erased one of the greatest plays in Grey Cup history and ripped a championship ring away from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but the wounds are still as fresh as ever.
Reminiscing about his three career Grey Cup victories, Calgary Stampeders’ special teams coordinator Mark Kilam reopened that particular cut on The Rod Pedersen Show, revealing new details about the infamous play.
“In ’14, we were totally overshadowed by the flag on Speedy B. We won the Grey Cup, but I felt like throwing up for about an hour and a half after the game because I thought that we had lost the game,” Kilam admitted.
The Lethbridge native felt that a special teams’ error had cost his team the most important of all victories by allowing return man Brandon Banks a 90-yard house call with less than one minute left, but the Stamps were let off the hook by a controversial block in the back call against Ticats linebacker Taylor Reed. The penalty is still fiercely debated to this day, but as Kilam revealed, it wasn’t just a product of luck.
“Here’s the backstory on that one. All season long, that’s what they did. Speedy B was a field return guy, so there’s a lot of questionable back corner blocks the whole season. I made a cut up Grey Cup week, I sent it to the officials on day one and said: ‘This is what they do, you’re gonna either call it or not,'” Kilam said.
“They didn’t call it until that play. Obviously it was the play that changed the game, but there was about three block in the backs on that play, so, Hamilton, that’s just what it was.”
It isn’t uncommon for coaches to contact league officials with concerns regarding the application of penalties, but rarely does it result in the decisive play in a championship game. While no one will ever know how much of an influence Kilam’s tape delivery had on Andre Proulx and his crew, it almost certainly planted a seed in their subconscious that sprouted when it mattered most.
“They didn’t know it was gonna be a touchdown. He’d got the corner, that’s when the flag came out,” Kilam said. “Hopefully we could have made the tackle. We lost the edge anyway, but that’s what it was.”
The infamous flag still looms large in Hamilton, where the Tabbies have not been able to overcome their championship bad luck and currently have the CFL’s longest active Grey Cup drought at 23 years. Meanwhile, the Stampeders climbed the mountaintop again in 2018, with a helping hand from a special teams unit motivated to not leave victory up to a penalty.
“I carried that all the way until 2018 and in 2018, our special teams were tremendous in that game and it was a big part of why we won,” Kilam said as he smiled.
It was Terry Williams who made the punt return house call in that game, taking the glory that Banks was so cruelly denied, due in part to the video Kilam sent to the referees.