Stamps go back to basics

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

It was exactly a year ago Stamps owner Ted Hellard rolled out the "One" concept he insisted would not only be the club's marketing slogan, but a pledge to live by.

The idea was no one was above the team and nothing done to embarrass the club on or off the field would be tolerated.

To follow were endless print, radio and TV ads preaching One team. One City. One Goal.

"You're not going to hear anything else other than this campaign for the next 10 or 20 years because this is our lifeblood," said Hellard at the time.

Fast forward to yesterday's annual media kickoff presser.

Not only was Hellard noticeably absent from the room, but so, too, was the One campaign.

In fact, the club will enter the season completely devoid of any type of marketing campaign or slogan whatsoever. Plain and simple, it's all about the football now. (Either that, or the club ran out of ideas.)

Head coach John Hufnagel hammered home the point yesterday by taking 26 minutes to go over every single player on the depth chart scheduled to be in camp starting Sunday.

Adding much-needed credibility to a football operation previously run by committee, it's clear Hufnagel's desire to keep the focus on the players is being listened to.

"You can see our marketing completely changed because it's a new coach and a new football team -- the focus is completely on football," said team president Scott Ackles, who explained season-ticket sales are up 10%, sponsorship goals are being met and the stadium has a new sound system.

"I think I spoke for all of one minute, 30 seconds to talk about the business. Everybody wants to talk about football and I completely understand that."

Proving the on-field product is what matters most, Hufnagel made the tough decision to cut fan favourites Scott Coe and Brian Clark this winter.

He also signed two players over the last two weeks who've had serious run-ins with the law stateside -- transgressions the organization said last year it wouldn't tolerate.

By no means are they of the Lawrence Phillips ilk (one incident includes possession of a stolen handgun and marijuana, another drunk driving charges) and by no means is this an indictment of the type of signings most pro football teams make. Most people deserve second chances. It's just to further point out the change in philosophy from a year ago.

"Hey, if they come up here and run afoul of the law, that won't be tolerated," said Hufnagel, quick to point out such signings don't mean the team is willing to sacrifice decorum just to win.

"The majority of these players I had the opportunity to spend two-and-a-half days with. They made mistakes. But they worked very hard to prepare themselves as players and citizens for another opportunity.

"They do know -- and I've told them face-to-face -- they're on very thin ice. Whether that was the team's policy last year, the player knows we won't tolerate it. I need to be comfortable that what happened in the past is not what will happen in the future. I can't say I'm that smart, but I did my due diligence."

Outside of a few position changes that will see Nik Lewis move to inside receiver, Ken Yon Rambo to the outside and Markus Howell from receiver to cornerback, there were no surprises of any kind yesterday.

Reiterating he doesn't have a problem with endzone dances like Tom Higgins did, Hufnagel appears to have successfully kept football decisions away from ownership (unlike Higgins) and will now run the team his way.

With that in mind, how's this for a marketing slogan: Amen.


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