Silent Jay blows top

Calgary Stampeders' Jay McNeil let his teammates know that their recent slide and lack of focus are...

Calgary Stampeders' Jay McNeil let his teammates know that their recent slide and lack of focus are unacceptable. (Calgary Sun File/Kevin Udahl)

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

A booming voice rose above the chatter as the Calgary Stampeders snapped to attention during the post-practice huddle yesterday.

Offensive lineman Jay McNeil, who isn't known for being vocal, brought the 3-3 team together for a stern pep talk, which was prompted by a lackadaisical stretching session.

Most of his words aren't fit for print but the gist of the veteran's speech was, 'Whatever we do, we do as a team,' whether that's stomach crunches or football games.

The Stamps have lost two straight and McNeil wanted his teammates to know the slide and lack of focus are unacceptable.

"I thought the practice was lacking something," McNeil said. "I may be wrong but we can't take anything for granted. I thought it was as good a day as any (to make a speech).

"As a 13-year vet who's been around a while, it's part of my role on this team to do that. The challenge is not to do it too often."

McNeil said he also stood up in the locker-room following Friday's loss the B.C. Lions and voiced his opinion on how poorly the Stamps have played in the past two defeats.

The impassioned speeches are the opposite of the way Tom Higgins conducts business. The head coach doesn't often kick over garbage cans while yelling and screaming.

Yet Higgins doesn't mind McNeil trying to give the team a kick in the pants.

"You would like to have your leaders emerge," Higgins said. "Sometimes when the coaches are yelling and screaming, you turn it off. You think to yourself, 'The coach is having a Vesuvius (the site of a catastrophic volanic eruption that buried the Italian towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii in 79AD) again.'

"Once Jay looks at it, he will realize it wasn't a bad practice. It probably was a good practice but (the frustration) comes from not being successful on the field.

"People are allowed to say what they want. The last time I checked, there was no gag order placed on anybody."


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