Esks back at ’er

Kenny Pettway (in green) battles Chris Ciezki duringthe Edmonton  Eskimos practice at Commonwealth...

Kenny Pettway (in green) battles Chris Ciezki duringthe Edmonton Eskimos practice at Commonwealth Stadium on Monda. (Doreen Thunder, Edmonton Sun)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:36 PM ET

EDMONTON - It was, all observers agreed, their best practice of the season.

The Edmonton Eskimos returned to the field Monday a week after being put on notice by team president and CEO Rick LeLacheur, followed by the shock of finding out GM Danny Maciocia had been fired after they finally won a game.

They were out there with a bounce to their business, noisily going about their work with obvious enjoyment and animation.

Happy to see Maciocia go?

No. Even though that was the sentiment of everybody else in Edmonton.

If you came to perform psychological analysis to determine the impact of the previous week, it was not to be found by the untrained eye.

They looked like a team that had won their last game. Period. Nothing more, nothing less. That’s all, folks.

It’s amazing how conditioned pro athletes are to moving on. Take a day away. Turn the page. Move on.

“It’s part of football,” said quarterback Ricky Ray.

It’s part of team sports to always be in search of positive motivation. And this is a team telling itself what it’s been going through — what it has put itself through — can only bring it closer together.

“I hope so,” said Ray.

“Sometimes in this game people take a bullet for the rest of the guys. Hopefully, we’ll come together and keep this going.

“You’ve got to come together and try to make it as positive a situation as you can. I think that’s what we’re going to do. We had a big win but we lost one of our guys (Maciocia). The worst thing we can do is be satisfied with the win. We have to win this week and keep this going. That’s really all we’re dealing with right now.”

Defensive leader Dario Romero agreed.

“I don’t think any of the things that have happened here are on our minds,” he said. “If anything, what’s happened might bring the team closer together. When you lose somebody, it brings people closer.”

Head coach Richie Hall said traumatic events within a team are much like traumatic events in life.

“A team is like a family. You face adversity together and it brings you closer together. Life goes on. Do you feel bad? Yes. Danny hired me. I feel bad. But Toronto doesn’t care. Our job is to go out and win games.”

But, sorry. Monday they looked like a team that won last week and was not really worth psychiatric evaluation to see how they’re handling all this.

You win, you enjoy each other for the week. That’s the way it works.

You lose and it’s no fun going to practice.

You get the idea none of these guys has noticed that after they play the Toronto Argos Friday, their next five games are Calgary, Saskatchewan, Calgary, Calgary and Montreal.

That might be just as well.

The Calgary/Calgary Labour Day part is usually when there’s this kind of attention on the team, not now.

It’s like a five-week Labour Day run against three teams with one loss each.

“Our main focus is to take what we did last week and get better,” said Romero. “It wasn’t a pretty win. But it was a win. Go with it.

“What happened to Danny Maciocia was a shock to everybody. But we’re football players. I’ve played 10 years but I still come to camp every year with the mindset that I have to make the team.

“Then you play every week to keep your place on the team,” he said.

“It was a shock to everybody. Obviously nobody is untouchable here right now. I would say a lot of guys have that mindset already. That’s what drives a lot of players. Nobody wants to be released or anything. It definitely brought it to our attention.”

Players play. If they don’t play well, they go away. The ones who play will stay.

No, the study here is with the coaches.

With a new general manager next year, and many of them owing their jobs to Maciocia, there’s going to be change, probably dramatic change, to this coaching staff no matter what happens.

“We all understand the situation,” said Hall. “We sat down as a staff and we talked.

“Right now, with all of us, it’s about being positive and about being professional. I look at it this way: it’s not about me, it’s about us.”

Maybe they can get the “us against the world” thing going together.

One thing for sure: there hasn’t been enough “us” with this team so far this season.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos