Back it up

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

"It ain't bragging if you can back it up."

-- Muhammad Ali

Nik Lewis floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee yesterday, recording eight catches for 145 yards and one touchdown.

But it was the outspoken Calgary Stampeders' verbal jabs at the Edmonton Eskimos secondary prior to yesterday's 43-23 win that floored some of his own teammates, not to mention head coach Tom Higgins.

Trash talk is ill-advised two nights before a franchise's biggest game in four years, especially when it ends up on the opposing team's locker-room wall.

Like fuel dumped on an already smouldering rivalry, it could have blown up in Lewis's face but all was forgiven after his performance although the Stampeders boss has taken steps to avert it from happening again.

Higgins and a few of Lewis's teammates cringed when the dynamic slotback, last season's rookie of the year, threw the entire Eskimo secondary into the proverbial dumpster.

Lewis said Esks DB Shannon Garrett, a 10-year CFL veteran, would want to retire after trying to cover him, adding the entire Esks secondary was incapable of handling the Stampeders receiving corps.

Luckily for Lewis, he backed up his boast.

"I needed motivation and I got the motivation I needed," said Lewis, who shook off Garrett for a 20-yard TD in the fourth quarter while posting the best night of any receiver.

"The only I didn't like is I kind of feel like some of my teammates didn't appreciate what I said. But I knew I had to come out and play great and if I didn't, everybody would have had something to say.

"Some of them didn't like what I said but at the same time that's me and that's what I said. Out of respect to Tom, I'm not going to do it again but at the same time that builds up my confidence and I knew I had to come out and play great."

Teammate Jeremaine Copeland, who has taken the Stamps young receivers under his wing, was proud of his protege.

"He backed it up majorly and that's what I told him," Copeland said.

"I told him he put his name out there and a lot of people were upset about it. We know that's just Nik and the media caught him and that's what happens and whenever it does you have to go out and back it up in a major way and he did.

"I wouldn't advise it but if you go out and back it up the way Nik Lewis did, I hope he does it again next week, too."

Same goes for former Eskimos defensive end Rahim Abdullah, now in Calgary colours.

"That's my motto: If you can talk trash and back it up, it doesn't matter to me," Abdullah said.

"Shannon Garrett's one of the best DBs in this league and Nik Lewis went out there and backed up what he said.

"The bottom line is, if Nik doesn't make plays, Nik's not going to be here. That's all I'm going to say."

Higgins declined elaborating on what he told Lewis, suffice it to say his brash young pass catcher won't be spouting off this week about next Sunday's rematch with the Eskimos in the West semifinal.


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