The photo idea was to maybe get a couple of Montreal Alouettes to look at the camera and go “grrrrrrrr.”
They were supposed to arrive poke-the-bear growly for this game. Thus the bookies made them five-point favourites.
And you’d figure they’d be extra growly having had their 8:15 a.m. flight did not depart Montreal until 11:30.
Those who didn’t show up growly, you half expected to stagger into the Westin Hotel looking a little dazed, befuddled and and bewildered.
I mean, this isn’t ‘Situation Normal’ for the defending Grey Cup champions.
The Alouettes don’t go 0-1.
They always win their first game.
Back in the day
Like Edmonton once upon a time. Back from 1972 to 1997 the Eskimos won 25 of 27 lid lifters home or away including 15 in a straight.
Only once in the last 13 seasons had the Als not won at least their first game — once winning their first eight, once their first seven, once their first six, once their first five, once their first four, four times their first three, once their first two and once their first game with an overtime loss in the second followed by a win in their third.
OK, the loss last week was a 54-51 thriller in double overtime to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in a game that CFL fans will be talking about and glorifying all season.
But they gassed a 21-point lead in that game!
Yet it was hard to find somebody to go ‘grrrrrrrr.’
Like Scott Flory. He’s the size of a grizzly bear. But he wouldn’t go ‘grrrrrrrr.’
“I get to play pro football for a living. How can I be that angry?” said the 11-year veteran and six-time CFL all-star offensive lineman as he headed to meetings like a big, friendly teddy bear.
“As for only having only lost our first game once before in all that time, that’s the first time I ever heard that stat.”
Whatever is involved, the defending champs with a great core group (minus one with the retirement of Bryan Chiu) arrived here with the first few players interviewed claiming a very level attitude.
Quarterback Anthony Calvillo said he wasn’t suffering from any conditions resulting from the unusual circumstances of a first game loss and has actually been enjoying the week because this is the 200th game for his go-to guy Ben Cahoon “and that proves he’s an old man,” he laughed.
“No, no. I’m good. Had a nice meal on the plane. I’m good.”
As for coming here 0-1, he said it’s the start of the season not the end of the world.
“I haven’t thought about it much. You want to start out on the right foot and we didn’t. The Eskimos didn’t either. So both teams will be hungry.”
It was just over a week ago, credible veteran football writers in six of the eight CFL cities forecast that these would be the two teams to be back here on Nov. 28 in the Grey Cup game.
One of these two teams is going to do it the hard way, leaving here 0-2.
The Eskimos went into this week as the only team in the Western Conference without a win and, after this one, will play in Saskatchewan and in Winnipeg before coming home to play the B.C. Lions who have been responsible for four of the Eskimos last six losses at home.
Off to West Coast
The Als, who went home after the Canada Day Grey Cup rematch in Regina, will proceed from here direct to Vancouver to complete a run of three straight out West to open the season, while stadium improvements are completed in Montreal.
And so it was from player to player until nine-year veteran defensive end Anwar Stewart stepped up to testify.
Finally a guy who was growly.
“There should be some sense of urgency of what’s going on here,” he said. “This is going to be a really big test for us. It should give us our identity early.
“As a defence we have to answer the question. Can we stop people? That was an embarrassment last week and it wasn’t just giving up 54 points. For them to come back and beat us, that was embarrassing.”