September 15, 2023

Cleats of Strength cause is close to Pelley’s heart

J-Min Pelley returned to the Edmonton Elks lineup in Week 14, helping the Green and Gold defeat the Calgary Stampeders 25-23 before an electric crowd at Commonwealth Stadium.

Edmonton’s dramatic come-from-behind victory over its provincial rivals was the first game in nearly two months for Pelley, who had been sidelined since July with a calf injury.

His mere presence on the field is a testament to the spirit of the 25-year-old defensive lineman. Pelley has a new perspective after suffering unimageable grief during the offseason, when he and his wife lost their five-month-old daughter Janae to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

“That’s the worst thing that will ever happen to me in my life,” Pelley said. “There’s nothing ever that will be worse than what I’ve already experienced, so there’s nothing I can’t smile through now.”

As part of Cleats of Strength presented by MH Care Medical, Pelley is wearing custom designed shoes during tonight’s game between Edmonton and the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. His game-worn autographed cleats are being auctioned in support of the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation.

“I think I have more of an attachment (to the Stollery) than any player on the field because that’s where I lost my daughter, so when they brought this idea up of doing the cleats for the Stollery, I jumped all over it,” said Pelley.

The six-foot-five, 330-pound Pelley played in Edmonton’s first five regular season games before his calf blew up on a freak occurrence during practice. Faced with an injury that would leave anyone frustrated, Pelley tackled his recovery with a remarkably upbeat attitude, born in part of his personal tragedy.

“One thing I’ve learned through this offseason is that things will happen, things will try to take you out of where you want to be in life and it’s about staying on track and not letting things bother you too much, just keeping a good positive vibe, and that’s my whole mantra for the year,” the Calgary native says.

Football is Pelley’s release, and last Saturday he got to be part of a comeback for the ages, as Edmonton erased a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter with Dean Faithfull kicking the winning field goal on the game’s final play.

“That was the first time I’ve won in (Commonwealth Stadium) so that was a great feeling for me,” Pelley said. “It feels so much better when you’re on the field than off, and what a game to be back: A nail-biter, down to the wire. Saturday was a great day.”

Friday could be a great night too, as the Elks go for another win and Pelley raises funds for a cause closest to his heart.

“Any chance I get to the give the Stollery, I’ll do as much as I can,” said Pelley.

Click here to learn more about Cleats of Strength and to bid on Pelley’s cleats.


Be there for Friday Night Football, when the Edmonton Elks battle the BC Lions on Sept. 22 at Commonwealth Stadium with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Being part of the action has never been more affordable, with tickets starting at just $15. Click here to get your tickets now and be part of the tradition.

Elks Football…Our Team. Our City.