Sackmaster stays focused

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

B.C. Lions sackmaster Cam Wake earns his paycheque eluding blockers, but he could hardly be accused of dodging the question.

Asked yesterday, on the eve of a West Division final showdown between the Lions and Calgary Stampeders, if the clock was winding down on his CFL stint with the NFL calling, Wake conceded it could be his last crack at a Grey Cup ring.

"It's funny you just mentioned that. We just had a team meeting where we said, 'Who knows what will happen next week? Who knows what will happen tomorrow?,' " said Wake, a two-time All-Canadian defensive lineman and the West Division nominee for his second straight most outstanding defender nod.

"This team may never be the way it is right now. Some guys will leave, some guys will retire, some will get traded ...

"To have all the talent with this group, we felt like we missed out last year. I had that with me all off-season. I was dragging around that horrible feeling, and I don't want to have it happen again. To go out as Grey Cup champs is what means most to me."

When Wake says 'go out', he isn't talking about retreating to his hometown of Beltsville, Md., for the CFL off-season.

It's no secret Wake's days north of the border are numbered. During a two-year stint that has seen the former Penn State stalwart rack up 39 regular-season sacks -- including a league-best 23 this year -- Wake has also caught the attention of the same NFL scouts that let the 6-foot-3, 257 lb. defensive end slip away in the first place.

Despite posting similar NFL combine scores to future stars Shawne Merriman (San Diego Chargers) and DeMarcus Ware (Dallas Cowboys), Wake was passed over in the 2005 NFL draft. He was signed by the New York Giants but released without ever cracking the roster.

What a difference a couple of years can make.

The list of NFL teams now reportedly interested in his services is nearly as long as that of unsuspecting pivots he has slammed to the turf. Upwards of a dozen squads are expected to come knocking on Wake's door, with specualtion pointing to the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders as the frontrunners.

Right now, though, that's the least of his worries.

Wake, who was sporting a new look yesterday he described to reporters at McMahon Stadium as "the Grey Cup champion haircut," wants to head south with a ring on his finger.

Wake notched four sacks against the Red & White during the regular season but knows that's old news now. That's just like the fact the Stamps have won three straight against his squad.

"The stuff during the season doesn't matter -- who's an all-star or who isn't or who put the put up the stats," Wake said. "Nothing matters during playoffs. You have to win now. People talk about last time, but what about it? It's a new season and a new game."


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