Kerry Joseph's contributions to the Saskatchewan Roughriders can be measured on and off the football field.
Joseph threw for 22 touchdown passes during the regular season while guiding the Roughriders to Sunday's CFL West Division final against the B.C. Lions (3 p.m., CBC). He added a 23rd in Saskatchewan's 30-21 victory over the Calgary Stampeders in Sunday's West Division semifinal.
He has stepped into the pocket in the community through Kerry's Catch for KidSport. His on-field performance, slowed by an injury to his right knee, has translated into $29,385 through 19 games. A number of companies have pledged a minimum of $10 to KidSport for each first down a Joseph-led offence registers this season.
"It has been a big plus,'' said Joseph, who carried over his philanthropic nature to Regina after spending three seasons with the Ottawa Renegades. "What KidSport is doing is a great opportunity to give all kids a chance to play. There are a lot of kids who might not get a chance to play with their peers; this gives them an opportunity to do that.''
Joseph kicked off the KidSport program with a $4,000 donation. Joseph has also kicked in by being available for any KidSport functions requested.
"He has done everything we have asked of him,'' said Mark Bracken, the director of funding and fun development for SaskSport. "He's also the first Rider we've had who has put his own money behind it. He has definitely stepped up to the plate with not only lending his name but with his own financial contributions that have been significant.''
KidSport also has gained from the sale of the 2007 Roughriders Charity Calendars. Joseph's contributions were recognized when he was named winner of the first Mosaic Outstanding Community Service Award. Mosaic also donated $5,000 on Joseph's behalf, increasing the KidSport donations to $70,000 this year.
"There isn't anyone that I have been associated with who has done more in the community,'' said Riders offensive lineman Gene Makowsky. "He's a good guy on and off the field and it's a pleasure to play with him. He's a character guy and it's a benefit to have him here.''
Joseph's community involvement extends beyond KidSport. He served as a model for an advertisement campaign for CanWest's Raise-A-Reader program. Joseph was part of a contingent of Riders who were hawking the Leader-Post on Sept. 28 to raise funds and awareness about literacy. Joseph was there with a smile and threw himself into the venture despite the early-morning start.
"If you want people in the community to support you, you should be a face in the community,'' said Joseph. "A lot of kids and people look up to us and we have to carry that on as a role model. It's not so much the notoriety of being a football player. It's about seeing the smile on a kid's face when they have an opportunity to do the things that they love to do.''
Joseph accepts his position as a role model. There hasn't been a whisper of controversy away from the field in regards to Joseph, who is the Riders' highest-paid player at $350,000 a season. Joseph appreciates that quarterbacks are in the spotlight and the notoriety comes with the position.
"They always look to you as being a superstar,'' Joseph said. "Underneath the uniform and the helmet we're just like them. It makes you humble when you look at them and realize where we are now is where they are. It's nice being able to share that love.''
Joseph could experience a full-blown love affair if he's able to guide the Riders past the Lions on Sunday. He always stresses that it's a team effort whether the Riders win or lose but quarterbacks who take their teams to the Grey Cup are often placed on a pedestal.
"I still remember that they booed Ron Lancaster when he was the quarterback here,'' Makowsky said. "This is the toughest place to play quarterback but if we win Sunday, Kerry will be my favourite player.''