Back in 2015: Sutton, a man of honor
MONTRÉAL – Tonight at 7 p.m., RDS will continue its special programming of some of the best Alouettes showdowns of the decade with the July 3, 2015 game, where our Als battled it out against the 2014 Grey Cup champs, the Calgary Stampeders.
A stunning 29-11 win at Percival Molson Stadium. It’s the second regular-season game of the 2015 season and 23-year old rookie Rakeem Cato found himself the team’s starter after shoulder injuries to starting QB Jonathan Crompton and backup Dan LeFevour.
And that was not a problem for Cato, who completed 20 of 25 pass attempts for 241 yards and three touchdowns, giving the Als their first win of the season. No interceptions! The young man knew how to keep his composure in stressful situations. Cato even outperformed his counterpart, Bo Levi Mitchell, who ended the game with 244 passing yards and no touchdowns. Helped by linebacker Chip Cox’s 11 defensive tackles, the Alouettes defense held the Stampeders off the scoreboard until late in the third quarter.
This was Calgary starting quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell’s first loss on the road.
On July 3, 2015, the Alouettes held off the Stamps from scoring any points until late in the third quarter. Fun fact, it was veteran Nik Lewis’ first time playing against his former Albertan teammates after spending 11 seasons with the Stamps. He ended the battle with 65 receiving yards and one touchdown. Another player who also had one of the best games of his career yet was running back Tyrell Sutton, who rushed 25 times for 134 yards. It was his third season in the CFL and with our birds. That year, he finished top of his class with 1,059 rushings yards, 20 more than Andrew Harris.
“I was the man for the job,” said Sutton regarding his successes during the 2015 season. “It was me and Rutley, and we knew that since the quarterback position wasn’t stable, the offensive squad had to perform. I think that everyone in our group did their part in for us to have success, to compensate for the shaky situation with the quarterbacks.”
During his first bout in Montreal, Sutton experienced some of the team’s thrilling highs, but unfortunately also witnessed many crushing lows. The team’s performance in 2019 is what he wishes he could have experienced at the time.
“I wanted to be a part of that in Montreal, he said. “They did a great job at bringing this electric atmosphere from the locker room to the field. I’m not saying that when I played in Montreal the vibe in the locker room wasn’t good. Nik Lewis would be the first to say that our locker room was unbeatable. Our group was as tightly knit as any other group in the league, but it just didn’t show on the field. Who was to blame? The coaches, the player personnel? I’m not really sure, but on the field, it just didn’t work. ”
For Sutton, the timing was just right in February 2020, when he decided to come back with the Alouettes.
“I just had a little boy and I got married last year,” he said. Everything worked out so I could keep my family here, in Montreal. I got other offers, and even though my wife is a superhero, making her move around every year with the kids wouldn’t have been the best option for our family.
Sutton spent the first six years of his CFL career as a member of the Als before a trade sent him out West to the BC Lions in 2018. Shortly after, he signed with the Toronto Argonauts and then found a new home with the Hamilton Tiger-Cars. He kept his head held high and stayed confident despite this tough journey.
“ I saw myself as this kind of mercenary, someone hired by a team to accomplish a specific task,” explained Sutton. “I would have loved to spend my entire career with a single team, but as the players in this business know all too well, it doesn’t always turn out that way.
“I wanted to bring to these teams something that they didn’t have. When I start with a new crew, I always try to integrate myself as quickly as possible and help them get to the next level. My goal is not to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders, but to play my part as well as I can.” Rookie quarterback Rakeem Cato threw three touchdown passes in his CFL debut.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who were going through a carousel of running backs after Sean Thomas Erlington’s injury, were Sutton’s last stop in 2019. In addition to proving to be a valuable asset in the Hammer, the Ohio-native running back got to participate in his first-ever Grey Cup final. Unfortunately, the showdown didn’t end how he had imagined.
“ It was a bittersweet feeling, of course,” he said. “It was one of the biggest moments of my career and I didn’t want us to get slapped this hard. I would’ve much preferred to win and celebrate in Hamilton. “
“The Ticats had such a good 2019 season. We accomplished so many greats things, had great wins. Seeing it end this way was heartbreaking.”
Maybe another chance for a Grey Cup…with the Alouettes this time around?
“Yeah, absolutely,” said Sutton without hesitation. “The quarterback that we have at the moment is on the right track, the head coach is a former player who completely understands what we’re going through (as players) and who gets ready for games as if he is the one who’s going to be on the field, and everyone that surrounds him is in the same boat. Every member of the coaching staff understands what the players go through and what needs to be done to win.
“The coach’s philosophy is oriented towards the player and no one tries to change us, no one tries to make us fit a certain mold. The players just have to be themselves to represent the team and the fans”
“I was the man for the job. It was me and Rutley, and we knew that offensive squad had to perform since the quarterback position wasn’t stable,” said Sutton regarding his successes during the 2015 season.
Black Lives Matter
If you chat with Tyrell Sutton, it’s impossible to avoid talking about what’s going on in the United States at the moment, regarding the racism, discrimination, and protests south of the border with the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
Racism and discrimination have been going on for hundreds of years in the United States and as part of a CFL initiative giving players the opportunity to express themselves about these issues, Sutton wrote a poignant letter about his personal experiences.
It’s extremely inspiring to see that a football player can reflect on our society and analyze it as he did in his letter. And Sutton feels like it’s his duty to be a part of this very important and difficult conversation.
“The message and the words of the black community have been drowned and lost for so many years,” he explains. All these people who talk about their experiences, their traumas, their situations, their lives…it’s going to help bring these issues to light.”
A lot of people don’t seem to understand that racism and discrimination happen to so many people of color every day. It doesn’t only affect the rich or the poor, it happens to a lot of black people, all around the world.”
“Not being a part of this movement would be a big mistake on my end. There are lots of people who are speaking up and being heard, so it’s easy to think that your voice doesn’t matter or won’t be heard. But you have to remember that there are so many people around you – family, friends, colleagues – who don’t know or don’t understand what you’ve been through. It’s important to bring these issues to the foreground.”
“There are many people in the same situation as mine who have chosen not to speak up, but to the people who have spoken up, I thank you and I’m going to keep fighting.”