Tsoumpas gets 'Ton of digs in

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:43 AM ET

If not for an 11th-hour draft-day trade a year ago, Dimitri Tsoumpas would be suiting up for the Edmonton Eskimos tomorrow night.

Whew! Sure dodged a bullet on that one.

"Edmonton is missing out," said the Calgary Stampeders starting right guard.

"They used to be the City of Champions, but they have to learn how to keep their guys.

"I have had a lot of fun being in Calgary and I've had a lot of success being here. I have the ring on my finger to prove it.

"It's worked out for the best and I'm happy where I am at."

Last May, Tsoumpas -- who grew up in Edmonton -- was a highly touted prospect coming out of Weber State and the Eskimos held the second-overall pick in the CFL draft.

The 6-foot-4, 315-lb. guard was a lock at No. 2 with Hamilton targeting safety Dylan Barker with the No.-1 selection, so he was in the Eskimos' office getting sized for a jersey.

At the last minute, the Stamps made the right offer (John Comisky and Kevin Challenger), the Eskimos accepted and Tsoumpas was given a ticket out of his hometown.

He didn't move back home after playing every single game last season and helping the Stamps win the Grey Cup.

Instead, he got a job as a personal trainer at World Health Club, and basked in the glow of a title win.

It seems Calgary has won him over for all it offers over the provincial capital.

"Lights and electricity, anything that is civilized," Tsoumpas said with his tongue firmly planted in cheek.

"That's Calgary. Technology makes it an unreal living experience. I would have to go back to living an Amish life back in Edmonton. I wouldn't want that now.

"Edmonton, in general, is a blue-collar town. It's a more white-collar attitude here. More office type people and it's a bit different.

"I like to think I bring my blue-collar mentality from growing up in Edmonton. Going down to Utah and playing football down there, I've always had (the attitude) I go to work hard every day.

"(In university), I would just pass through. I never spent a lot of time in Calgary growing up. I've enjoyed it since moving here.

"It's fantastic. There are more things to do out here. I can't talk it up enough."

Tsoumpas grew up as an Eskimos fan -- heckling Stamps players such as the man standing next to him now, Jeff Pilon -- and his family is torn in their allegiences.

A year into the rivalry, he can joke about it now the Stamps are the ones on top, but it was tough losing to them last year on Labour Day.

Tsoumpas was a winner in his only trip to Commonwealth Stadium last year and needs to keep the streak going tomorrow. Tsoumpas is actually taking the offensive line to his mother's house tonight for a 'huge' barbecue to show his teammates not everything is terrible in Edmonton.

"Mom ran over to Costco and loaded up on steaks," Tsoumpas said. "I haven't had everyone over before, so this is a momentus occasion. If there isn't enough room inside the house, we're going to be sitting out in the backyard."


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