The normally mild-manner Fajardo gave a fiery, expletive-laden speech to his teammates on the Saturday before the Grey Cup and the star quarterback recently divulged the origins of his now-legendary words came to be.
“(I knew) if I wanted to get everyone’s attention, I’m going to have to do a couple things that I normally don’t do. One is yell and scream and two, use some profanity,” Fajardo told The Rod Pedersen Show.
The 31-year-old got everyone’s attention as he and his teammates went out and did what many thought was impossible in beating the heavily-favoured Winnipeg Blue Bombers 28-24 to win the franchise’s first championship since 2010.
“I’m not the biggest vocal guy and especially when you sign to a new team, my goal was to go out and play, have the guys watch how I work every day and earn (their) respect that way.”
The six-foot-two, 223-pound passer signed in Montreal after three seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, where he guided the team to a pair of West Finals in 2019 and 2021 and was named the West’s Most Outstanding Player in 2019. Those seasons thrust Fajardo into the spotlight after spending the previous four years as a sparsely used backup with the Toronto Argonauts and B.C. Lions.
His tenure in Saskatchewan ended badly, however, with the team missing the playoffs in 2022 after finishing the season on a seven-game losing streak to go 6-12. That poor finish was used as a catalyst to move on from Fajardo as well as fire offensive coordinator Jason Maas, who was hired by the Als to be their head coach last December.
“The negative comments (were) weighing on me a lot,” Fajardo said of his exit from Saskatchewan. “I exhausted myself trying to make everybody like me.”
The Alouettes were a team in turmoil when Fajardo signed up to be their franchise quarterback. The team had lost its owner just ahead of the free agent market opening, which led to former starting quarterback Trevor Harris and star receiver Eugene Lewis leaving the team to sign with Saskatchewan and Edmonton, respectively.
The change of scenery also did Fajardo some good as it helped him alter his mindset as he entered a new chapter in his career.
“I changed my mentality of playing for the people that believed in me as opposed to the people that don’t,” said Fajardo. “Coach Maas and (general manager) Danny (Maciocia) believed in me to be a franchise quarterback. (They) showed an investment (by offering a two-year deal) and a belief in me.”
That investment was rewarded in their first year together as the Alouettes hoisted the Grey Cup for the first time in 13 years. It was a celebration over a dozen years in the making and one that was well-earned.
“When you do win (the Grey Cup), especially when nobody expected you to, you celebrate a little harder.”