Raising the steaks

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

Tough to say which is pettier: Offering a steak dinner for injuring an opponent or publicly accusing someone of such a bounty without proof.

That's what the rivalry between the B.C. Lions and the Calgary Stampeders has come to.

Several Stamps claimed yesterday Lions players admitted in the heat of battle knocking out anyone in Red & White either of the last two weeks would result in a payday of $60 and/or a steak dinner.

It wasn't made clear if the grub would come from the club, a players' fund or a local steak joint, opening the door for an innovative sponsorship deal.

Lions head coach Wally Buono is furious at the accusation, denies it and has complained to the league, as he should in matters that make the CFL look, well, like the CFL.

As far-fetched as the accusation seems, it would be an exercise in futility for outsiders to try figuring out where the truth lies. Or, for that matter, where you could find a decent steak feed for $60 in Vancouver.

At the end of the day, this high level trash talk between coaches simply adds further proof to on-field brawling and off-field taunting that the Lions have replaced the Eskimos as the Stamps' most hated rival.

As if there was ever any doubt the Stamps and Lions genuinely disliked each other, now they're apparently flingin' filets around with the mud. That's how much disrespect there is for one another on either side of the mountains.

The real danger here is with one meaningless game and a bye week before Calgary plays its first truly meaningful game of the season, the Stamps could become so fixated on the Lions, they overlook their West Division semifinal against Saskatchewan.

And while few figure the Roughriders have much hope of upsetting the Stamps at McMahon Stadium Nov. 5, the fixation on the feud with B.C. could be enough to knock a fragile, unpredictable Stamps squad off its game when it matters most.

We saw in last year's West semi just how quickly the Stamps can implode.

If coaches such as Denny Creehan are talking about it, you can bet it's all the players are yapping about.

And no one should expect the chatter to die anytime soon with teams that include Nik Lewis, Jeremaine Copeland and Geroy Simon, who've never met a microphone they didn't like.

Like 10-year-olds on a playground, no one is willing to let the other guy get the last word in, keeping the door open for plenty of dustbin discourse.

While entertaining to the media and fans, such chatter can be a major distraction for players. So much so, Tom Higgins blamed Lewis' trash talk, in part, for the beat-down issued to the Stamps two weeks ago in B.C.

Now Buono is suggesting Creehan should have had the smarts and decency to discuss the matter privately with him before going public with the inflammatory accusations. Not that that would have cleared the air.

Creehan specifically suggested Lions receiver Jason Clermont will be dining gratis at Hy's this week after breaking Jermaine Chatman's arm on purpose with a kick in Sunday's game.

Chatman heard the same thing and, just like the rest of us, hopes it isn't true.

Odds are it isn't, even if the idea was floated around in the Lions locker-room.

Not even a CFLer making as little as $40,000 would stoop to the level of jeopardizing his and someone else's career by attempting to injure someone on national TV.

I'd be willing to put a porterhouse on it.


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