By Perry Lefko
Canadian Football League players have relationships with fans, willing to spend time talking and interacting with them on and off the field, and in the case of Winnipeg’s Kevin Fogg it involves a faithful supporter from another province.
Kevin, who is in his third season with the Bombers and has excelled as both a shutdown cornerback and punt/kick returner, has become close with Tatum Lee, who lives and works in Carievale, Saskatchewan.
She is originally from Manitoba and attended games with grandparents, who had Bombers’ season tickets for 50 years. For three years now, she has had two Bombers’ season tickets – and it takes her 4½ hours each way to attend games and return home. It’s something she loves to do because she is a fan of the team, and Kevin in particular.
While Jaamal Westerman, now with Hamilton, had been Tatum’s favourite player, when Kevin joined the Bombers he immediately became near and dear to her.
“I talk about him a lot,” Tatum said. “If you ask my friends and family, they would say, ‘Oh, man, Tatum you’ve got to give it up some day.’ I don’t have a Kevin Fogg jersey because by the time you travel to these games back and forth and pay for hotels, there’s not a lot of money left over. Have I got everything I possibly can autographed by him? Yes. Have I got tons of pictures of him and I? Yes.
After games I stick around and a lot of the players will give high-fives on the way to the dressing room. He was one that was a regular. That’s how I got to know him on the field and then one day I saw him on Facebook and asked to be his friend. We’ve been friends ever since. I then became friends with his Mom, Marsha, and met her last year. His energy on the field just seems to flow right into the stands. He’s always pumping up the crowd on the sideline.”
“In and of itself – that should be talked about and pointed out,” he told me. “All I have to do is show up for the game, but somebody driving 4½ hours just to see the team play… that’s stuff you can appreciate and gravitate towards because that type of energy is always the best.”
Prior to a recent game, Tatum became emotional seeing Kevin in front of the Bombers’ store and wrote about it on Twitter, apologizing for being such a mess. She hadn’t seen him March, when the Bombers hosted the CFL’s annual week of festivities for fans and player.
“I literally started to shake,” she said. “My hands were shaking so bad. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes because I was just so happy to see him. It’s just his presence. He’s so calm, collected. For a young athlete and young man, he’s got his head on his shoulders and he always takes the time to talk to everybody. After he was done talking to me, I saw him talking to other fans and he never flinched. He hugged everybody that he saw and then he introduced me to other players I had never met before. I get speechless talking about him.”
Kevin said he is always looking at “genuine, pure, organic love” and he feels it coming from the Bombers’ supporters.
“I think it’s really nice being in Winnipeg and interacting with the fans because they care and go to the games and support us,” he said. “They are excited about it. I think it’s something really cool that I get to experience; to have fun and laugh… and meet the fans. They are great and have a great mindset going into things, so it’s always good to be around that energy. It’s always good to support people that support you.”
Tatum said Kevin’s returns for touchdowns ignite the fans. In the 2018 CFL season opener, he returned a missed field goal 110 yards for a touchdown. The game had to be delayed twice because of lightning and took almost five hours to be played. It was a crazy play in one of the craziest games played in recent CFL history. He had four touchdowns on punt returns called back in his rookie year because of penalties. Last year, he finally had one that wasn’t called back.
What I found fascinating about Kevin, aside from his overall talent, is his philosophy about what it means to be a football player and allowing himself to be open and honest. On July 22, he posted in his Twitter and Instagram accounts a video of him fumbling a return that was returned by the Argos for a touchdown in a game the day before.
“Stuff will occur and things will happen, but I’m glad to be playing in a sport where individual hiccups can seem minor when your team has each other’s backs,” he said in the social media post. “I’m grateful for the confidence and faith my teammates and coaches have in me. Definitely appreciate my peeps. Much love y’all.”
Doing what I do ain’t for everybody ! Stuff will occur & things will happen. But I’m glad to be playing in a sport where individual hick-ups can seem minor when your team has each other’s back. I’m grateful for the confidence & faith my teammates & coaches have in me. Definitely appreciate my peeps. Much love y’all !!! #ForTheW #BlueBombers ?? #Family ✊? #GangGang ?
He told me he was just being honest and upfront.
“We can always see the outside and the end result of what happens to somebody, but it’s really not what that person has been through to get to that point,” he said. “That’s really where I was coming from. Stuff is going to happen and instead of just highlighting and trying to potentially bring out something bad that had happened; look at the journey as a whole instead of just taking a piece out of the journey.
I thank God for it because through my journey I’ve always had to work and go for what I wanted and sometimes it’s not always going to be at the level that you expect or wanted it to be. You have to take a step back sometimes and really examine your options as a whole.”
“I would definitely say that God puts us in places – on different journeys – that we can’t see,” he added. “We just have to go through it with faith and take each step that way. Some people try to do half and half – depend on God and also try to do it their way – but disappointment and things happen. Things are going to continue to occur and happen until you are able to get on a path or into a mindset of being led through faith.”
Kevin’s posts have resonated with Tatum. She has been going through a health issue on and off since February.
“I’m not going to lie, reading his posts and seeing some of the things he’s said it really makes me think and helps me deal sometimes with things I am facing and going through,” Tatum said.