Love that style of thinking

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

Jeremaine Copeland strode into yesterday's press conference decked out in a tan suit, diamond-studded ear rings, an eye-catching wristwatch and a splendid pair of shiny ostrich shoes.

Yes, ostrich.

It's unclear how many feathered beasts sacrificed their lives for the all-star receiver's feet (notwithstanding the fact this is cattle country) but the sticky fingered receiver's sense of style certainly made an impression.

The same will be expected when Copeland finally runs onto McMahon Stadium's turf in June, while his arrival should immediately send fans scurrying for the Stampeders ticket office.

And that's the key.

It's one thing for the new ownership group to take over, instantly providing credibility and hope for the future.

It's another for an experienced coaching staff to be pieced together, with everyone knowing his role and pulling in the same direction.

But it's the 40 guys sweating under the bright lights on game day who have to make it happen, inspiring the fans to join in the fun and ultimately paying the bills by opening their wallets.

That's where guys like Copeland and possibly free agent QB Henry Burris come in.

While ownership and coaches can pull the strings, players sell tickets, especially offensive players and nobody can find the endzone like Copeland.

Yesterday's signing makes him one of the highest paid receivers in the CFL and, while he'll light up the scoreboard, he'll also ring the cash registers at the ticket office this spring.

Head coach and v.p. of football operations Tom Higgins said Copeland, along with signees Anthony Malbrough and Alexandre Gauthier, means his team "just got better and we will not be embarrassed by anything we do on or off the field."

Higgins shouldn't have to worry about Copeland dropping the ball in that regard as the Tennessee native, who turns 28 tomorrow, should just be hitting his stride.

"That's what I think, just in my prime," Copeland said with a smile. "I'm going to come into this camp more fierce, more strong than I've ever been, to tell you the truth."

In addition to catching passes and selling tickets, Copeland will also help the Stamps market themselves to other free agents, especially Burris.

And in light of the hard feelings expressed yesterday by incumbent QB Khari Jones about possibly losing his job, Copeland emphasized the economics of pro sports.

"When it comes down to it, I wanted to make it a long-term deal and put a smile on my face because I was moving my family up here to Canada," said the former Alouette.

"Montreal just didn't step up to where me and my agent thought they should be. They let me down but no hard feelings because this is a business. I just had to make my mind up to do what was best for me."

Higgins agreed Copeland's addition will make Calgary more attractive for other players, especially Burris.

"We made it a little more enticing for anybody to come here and want to be a quarterback here because you have to have weapons. You have to have people who can get to the football," Higgins said.

Copeland can do that and more.

He stepped off the plane yesterday feeling "great vibes," thankful to be a part of the "new" Stampeders organization.

Stampeders fans should be appreciative, too, because their team has taken another step toward winning.

With Copeland, they'll be stepping in style.


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