Earplugs, please

The Calgary Stampeders linebacking crew (from left) Jude Waddy, John Grace, Scott Coe, George...

The Calgary Stampeders linebacking crew (from left) Jude Waddy, John Grace, Scott Coe, George White, Marc Calixte crowd behind Marc Mitchell during photo day at McMahon Stadium. The Stamps are gearing up for a key third-place showdown against the Saskatchewan Roughriders Sunday at Taylor Field. (Calgary Sun/Darren Makowichuk)

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

On both sidelines at Taylor Field, harsh words get thrown around more than footballs.

George White has been on both sides of the Saskatchewan-Calgary rivalry and seen many a CFL player distracted by hecklers from 'Rider Nation.

So the Calgary Stampeders linebacker admits it is much easier being on the home side in Regina, no matter how bad the love-hate relationship becomes for the fans.

"I don't really listen to them," said White, who played with the 'Riders from 2000-02. "I just laugh and say, 'Thank you.'

"Every time Calgary and Saskatchewan gets together, it's going to be a fight, a back-alley brawl. It's always fun to play against them, especially there."

Since joining the Stamps in 2003, White has made three trips back to Taylor Field. He's heard some phrases hurled at him and his teammates that would make Don Rickles blush.

Of course, other garbage can come flying out of the bleachers as the watermelon- and cape-wearing spectators attempt to throw Saskatchewan's opponent off its game.

And every seat is already sold when the Stamps go to Regina for Sunday's crucial West Division clash (2 p.m., TSN).

"It works. Definitely," White said about the distractions. "You can't ignore people sitting behind your bench tossing stuff at you, trying to catch your ear every two seconds and screaming your name.

"It affects you, especially if your team isn't playing well."

Led by White, the Stamps defence is playing exceptionally well the past few weeks aside from a run-in with the red-hot Anthony Calvillo in a 32-11 loss to Montreal earlier this month.

Against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week, White racked up 12 tackles to bring his season total to 91, good enough for second in the league behind Toronto's Kevin Eiben (96). He also picked off Danny McManus for his first interception and touchdown this season.

So there probably isn't a better time for White to return to Regina. If someone yells out that he stinks, all he has to do is mention his season stats.

"The worst time to be there is when the team isn't playing well," White said. "If your team is playing well, you might enjoy it. In any game it's important to get out to a good start, this a little more so."

The biggest target for fans' ire undoubtedly will be quarterback Henry Burris, who 'defected' from the Nation in the off-season for greener pastures in Calgary.

But when it comes to smiling in the face of opponents, White said no one does it better than Burris.

"It's not the first time Henry's been heckled so it won't bother him," White said. "I think he's going to handle it well. It will help him, if anything. He'll want to do better than before."


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