Ring is the thing

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:11 PM ET

Jay McNeil breaks into a huge smile every time a rookie awkwardly points to the giant glistening gold on his pinky finger.

The ultimate symbol of team accomplishment still makes plenty of road trips with the Calgary Stampeders offensive lineman and is a hot topic of conversation.

McNeil has two Grey Cup rings in his time with Calgary (1998, 2001) and can't help but focus on a third as the team begins the post-season tomorrow against the Edmonton Eskimos at McMahon Stadium (4 p.m., CBC-TV, QR77).

"When we're on the airplane, the young guys will pass them around and look at them," said McNeil. "I remember the first couple of years when I didn't have one and the older guys would wear theirs from the '92 Cup.

"I remember thinking how bad I wanted one of those things. It's nice to have them now. I really cherish it."

Despite having a lack of CFL playoff experience overall, the Stamps have more rings in the locker-room than one might expect.

Scott Deibert, Jeff Pilon, Jamie Crysdale, Henry Burris and Lawrence Deck have all won the Grey Cup with the Stamps.

Rahim Abdullah and Randy Chevrier won with the Eskimos (2003), while Demetrious Maxie has the most on the team with three -- two with the Toronto Argonauts (1996-97) and one with the Baltimore Stallions (1995).

Jeremaine Copeland, who has one in his trophy case from his time in Montreal (2002), said winning the ring changed his career.

"Championships last forever," the slotback said. "When it comes down to it, if you have the ring under your belt and did something to get it, the feeling stays with you.

"The young guys like Nik Lewis coming up, of course they want to get it."

Lewis won't be satisfied with his career until he gets some hardware.

"I have my rookie-of-the-year ring last year but that was just for me," Lewis said.

"Nobody else can say they were 2004 rookie of the year. At the same time, a Grey Cup ring means more because you do it with more than one person. If you're part of something bigger than yourself, it means you've really accomplished something."

McNeil has told his young teammates what's really at stake in the playoffs.

"When we went to the Grey Cup in my second year, I remember (coach-GM) Wally Buono saying the playoff money doesn't matter but the rings and memories will be the most important part," McNeil said.

"He was right."


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