The Marc of a champion

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:13 PM ET

No. 89 couldn't care less about the No. 1 receiving target for the Calgary Stampeders.

Marc Boerigter is just happy to be playing football again after last playing a competitive game at the end of 2005.

Whether he regains the status he held when he left the CFL following the Stampeders' 2001 Grey Cup win doesn't matter much, either.

The receivers around him then included Vince Danielson and Travis Moore. Now it's Ryan Thelwell, Jeremaine Copeland and Nik Lewis. He doesn't consider himself better or worse than any of them.

"In your mind, you think you're No. 1," said Boerigter. "Thelwell, Cope and Nik all believe that, too. You need that mentality. In this group, it doesn't really matter. There's enough action to go around."

The myth around Boerigter comes mostly from that final appearance in the CFL, when he was the favourite target of Marcus Crandell in a 27-19 win over Winnipeg.

Boerigter caught four passes for 114 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown, and signed with Kansas City immediately afterwards.

But the win overshadowed a mediocre season by the Stampeders in which they only went 8-10 and caught fire late in the season.

"I hope this is a better overall team in the long run," Boerigter said. "We won the Grey Cup after having a sub-.500 record.

"It's all about putting it together at the right time. We would trade regular-season success for Grey Cup wins though.

"But it's important for us to get a couple of wins right away. We have a tough stretch to start the season. We're focused on Hamilton but we need to come out of the gates strong."

In the Stampeders' final pre-season game in Saskatchewan, the offence was floundering until Boerigter got wide open for a 54-yard touchdown reception.

The play didn't surprise Calgary head coach Tom Higgins, who in Boerigter sees a prototypical receiver in that he fights until the end.

"He reminds me of the receivers years ago in Calgary," Higgins said. "They had the mentality nobody was going to outwork them. They showed everybody else how to be a pro."

Boerigter may turn out to be the poster boy for the franchise's 'One' campaign. Although the 32-year-old has plenty of star power, he isn't about stats or personal accolades.

However, Higgins said the tiny Hastings College product is more than capable of leading.

"When I first met Marc and his wife Petra, that was more impressive than his football skills," Higgins said. "I saw him only from the other side before when I was in Edmonton.

"Now that I have spent some time with him, you get a better sense of the way he carries himself.

"He could be one of the biggest influences of what will happen in 2007. He brings so much to the table in stability and professionalism in everything he does.

"It's reflective of he works hard at his craft. We're trying to get as many years out of him as possible."

Had Boerigter stayed in the CFL, and this was his eighth season in Red and White, we could be talking about him as one of the all-time greats.

But being a star and one of most recognizable players in Stamps' history never even crossed Boerigter's mind.

"If it happens, that's great," he said. "I don't worry about it. I'm just happy to be playing."


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