In Lew of anger ...

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

A younger Nik Lewis would have flipped his lid, stormed out of McMahon Stadium, demanded a trade and declared his career over as a Calgary Stampeder.

Make no mistake, the ultra-emotional receiver considered all those options when told last week he'd be a healthy scratch against the Toronto Argonauts. However, he was so stunned by the news, he recalls being too overwhelmed to do anything at first.

"Honestly -- when I got in the car my feet and legs went numb," said Lewis yesterday, making his first comments since the humbling demotion.

"I didn't know if I could handle it. Leading up to the game, I said, 'I'm not coming to the game,' because the only game I ever missed (in high school) I broke down on the sidelines. It was horrible and I didn't want to break down out here, too. I was really upset and I was getting a lot of pressure from both sides, like friends telling me to ask for a trade. It crossed my mind but this is where I want to be. So I came out and gave the defence the best look I could on scout team and cheered everybody from the sidelines. I was never selfish, I was just a team player like I've always been."

Asked when he decided to attend the game, he laughed: "When Ted (Hellard) told me I had to."

So there he was last Saturday in civvies, standing next to the Stamps president as his team righted the ship.

"It was one of the hardest things I've had to do," said Lewis, fourth in CFL receiving yards over the last three years.

"It was hard to watch them come out of the tunnel, call plays and make plays when you know you could do the same thing. At the same time I'll live with it. I won't complain, I'll focus on the next week."

His stunningly mature approach is a turnaround for a colourful character more accustomed to dancing and flapping his gums than standing still and biting his lip.

"I don't think I would have taken it well last year but my focus is I want to win a Grey Cup," said Lewis, buying into the team's 'One' mantra.

"I know it was real hard to accept this year but my mindset is different. My mother called me every day to make sure I was good. Same with my father. It was a real tough experience for me but at the same time, I think I'm an above average player in this league and, ultimately, if I get more balls I'll be more productive."

One of the more unlikely sources he turned to for advice was Toronto coach Mike Clemons.

"If a bunch of people would sit down with Mike Clemons they'd be better people -- I really look up to him," said Lewis, who dined with Pinball Friday night.

"It had nothing to do with me trying to go to Toronto or wanting a trade. It was a big help to me to talk to him not just about football or my situation, but life."

While clear to many Lewis was omitted to shake up a struggling receiving corps, No. 82 begs to differ.

"Up front it looks like that but it's not about performance," said Lewis, who admits he flat out dropped two of the 12 balls thrown his way.

"If you look at it, Cope (pal Jeremaine Copeland) is playing the best of all of us. (Ken-Yon) Rambo is the versatile one who can play inside and outside. It comes down to me and (Marc) Boerigter. At the time, Cope and I were playing the same position. I know all the positions so you never know who is going to be next but I can tell you someone will be next."

Lewis said he's already discussed his fate with coaches for this week but has agreed to stay silent. Another breakthrough.

Fact is, a hand injury to o-line import Garrick Jones will likely free up a roster spot for Lewis. And that opens the door for a return likely to be every bit as emotional as last week's departure.


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