Open and shut case

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

Ryan Thelwell said it brought the B.C. Lions together like nothing he's ever seen.

Bobby Singh went one further by suggesting it all but brought home the Grey Cup.

Late last season as the Lions were trying hard to avoid their typical September swoon, Stamps receivers Nik Lewis and Jeremaine Copeland made comments on TSN's Off The Record that essentially changed the face of both franchises.

Asked about Lions counterpart Geroy Simon, it was suggested his touchdown dance was "gay," prompting a backlash that turned both teams' seasons around.

"We were in Hamilton at the owner's house (David Braley) eating dinner, and it came on," explained Lion-turned-Stamp Thelwell yesterday, prior to this Saturday's tilt between the same two clubs at McMahon Stadium.

"At first, we all laughed --originally we thought it was kind of funny and not a big deal. But we had a few instigators on the team who started asking Geroy, 'Are you going to let them do that?' And it kind of went from there."

What followed was a full-on media circus that saw Simon respond in print before the league MVP and his teammates responded on the field a week later with a 39-1 shellacking of the Stampeders.

"I've never seen the team so pumped up for a game, especially on the defensive side of the ball -- it motivated them to shut Nik and Cope down," Thelwell said.

Former Lions o-lineman Singh vividly remembers the brief war of words that transformed a team struggling to find late-season motivation.

"That happening and then thumping them the way we did ... it did bond us and made us come together as a team," said Singh, convinced it kick-started the club's Grey Cup run. "I think it did because late in the season you need anything you can to motivate you because it's such a grind. When we had a good game and played hard in all three phases, we kind of used that as 'if anyone messes with any of us, that's what they're going to get.' It gave us that push we needed."

And it gave both teams a good lesson on how to conduct themselves before facing a bitter rival: Quietly.

"I know no one is calling Geroy's moves gay this week," laughed Singh. "Personally, I don't think it's gay at all -- I think it's pretty cool -- my kids do it. I just hope he doesn't do any of those poses against us this week."

Stamps head coach Tom Higgins, who said the beatdown in B.C. was his most embarrassing moment as a Stamp, admits the entire episode was the impetus for the 'One' campaign asking players to put team ahead of self.

And that means limiting your words.

"I don't even know if you have to bite your tongue if your mindset is such that you represent the city of Calgary and a great organization," said Higgins.

"I was embarrassed last year. You're going to get your butt kicked at certain times, but, in a way, we asked for that one. I can honestly say I'm proud of anything that we've been able to do this year. Sure, we've been embarrassed, but it wasn't because of us shooting our mouths off."

That's a step in the right direction for an outspoken team of touchdown dancers which was the most hated squad in the league in 2006.

"I personally think last year they did go overboard with some of the things they did," said Singh.

"Were they the most hated team? I can't say that -- I hate every team I play."

Said with all due respect, of course.


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