Dickenson's The Man

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

The departure of Casey Printers to the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs hasn't changed Dave Dickenson's life all that much.

Now there's no doubt who the B.C. Lions No. 1 quarterback is but Dickenson never spent much time looking over his throwing shoulder, even when Printers was around and the dreaded quarterback controversy was a daily concern.

"Honestly, you may not believe this but it hasn't changed me at all," Dickenson said in a recent interview from Vancouver. "I do the same thing, prepare the same, have just as much fun in practice. The best part will be when you don't have to answer a bunch of questions about it but I'm still answering them, as you're seeing right here.

"There's always going to be another guy there and ultimately the young guy will replace you."

But he's not answering them nearly as often, which should help limit the distractions and allow the Lions to focus on trying to get back to the Grey Cup game.

Dickenson, himself, remains motivated at getting another shot at glory -- since the 2004 Grey Cup loss to the Toronto Argonauts still isn't sitting well.

"Yeah, it's all about winning. I don't care about anything else," said Dickenson. "I want to play in some big games and feel somewhat fresh coming into the game. For me, it's still about the memories. Every season is so different, it's funny how it goes. Even though you've been in the league a long time, every year it brings something new to the table and keeps you wanting to come back."

The Lions roared out of the gate last season, cruising to an 11-0 record during the regular season before sputtering late and being eliminated in the West Final by the Edmonton Eskimos.

"We just understand that it's not how you're playing early in the year," said Dickenson. "You want to make sure you keep improving and stay on the top of your game late. No matter if you finish strong or start fast, there's no guarantees. But you feel better about yourself if you win some big games down the stretch. Hopefully we can do that (this season)."

Dickenson, who broke into the CFL in 1996, sees some parallels between that season and the current one -- which began with the departure of the Ottawa Renegades and subsequent dispersal draft.

"Talent-wise, teams are pretty even and that hasn't happened in the past," said Dickenson. "If you're not playing good, you're going to get beat in this league, whereas before maybe you could get by with an average performance. That's not the case anymore.

"Teams that needed holes filled, did it and every team got a player or two that is making an impact. It's the best talent the league has ever seen."

He's seen a lot during his career, but Dickenson still remembers the joy of his rookie season.

"All the U.S. teams had finished and there were a lot of good players trying to make teams," he said. "It was a tough year to make it and this year was a tough year to make it.

"I just kind of laid back and kept working and trying to get that opportunity. It took me a while. I only started two or three games in my first three years. It seems like forever ago that I broke into the league. And then there's guys like Damon (Allen) and (Danny) McManus that are 10 or 12 years older than me. I feel much more comfortable and I'm happy with the way my career has gone but I'd like to put an exclamation point on it at some point with a Grey Cup win."

Retirement is not on the radar right now.

"You never look too far down the road but I certainly want to play a few more (years) and then kind of re-assess when that time comes," said Dickenson. "As long as my body is OK, I'm going to keep playing. I still like it and I still think I can play at a pretty high level. Those are pretty much the two criteria for me."

Dickenson is familiar with Lions head coach Wally Buono from his days in Calgary and has a great deal of respect for him.

"I understand Wally and I know where he's coming from," said Dickenson, whose relationship with Buono stems back to his days in Calgary. "Things that he might say don't bother me as much. Some of the younger players take it more personal. He's not necessarily buddy-buddy coaching-wise but you've got to respect that he wins wherever he goes.

"To me, I like the way he coaches. He keeps you on a tight schedule, disciplined and keeps you accountable. For me, it's been a good situation."

Winnipeg Blue Bombers middle linebacker Barrin Simpson believes Dickenson is one of the best gunslingers around.

"He's one of the most intelligent quarterbacks I've ever played with," said Simpson. "He's got great anticipation and great knowledge of the game. And he's just a playmaker with his arm. He makes big throws, he's accurate and I think he's among the top 3 in the league. When healthy, he's unbelievable."


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