No tears in Stamps dressing room

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:34 PM ET

CALGARY — At least the garbage bags weren’t green.

That might have been too much to take.

Still, there were enough reminders at McMahon Stadium Monday that the Stampeders lone goal of the season had been swallowed up by Gang Green a day earlier.

As players removed nameplates and family photos from their stalls and stuffed sweats, shoes and personal effects into their garbage bags to make way for the Roughriders, the mood wasn’t as somber as expected.

However, amidst the hand-shaking, well-wishing, number-exchanging and general kibitzing, the relative hush in the room was interrupted by someone near the doorway that could be heard openly sobbing.

Walking over towards Henry Burris to further investigate the emotional outburst, the wailing turned out to be that of eight-month-old Max DeAngelis who took none too kindly to the quarterback’s funny faces after being introduced by father Sandro.

One day after the Meltdown at Mosaic, poor ol’ Hank was still breaking hearts.

“I can see the headline now,” laughed Burris.

Truth is, anyone who watched the game could plainly see the Stamps were in over their heads.

Unlike past years, no one can blame Burris and his three interceptions for the 27-17 loss, nor could anyone suggest the Stamps fell just a tad short of returning to the Grey Cup. They were soundly beaten. Just like in the regular season series, when the Riders went 2-0-1 against Calgary, the better team won.

And even though there was so much more on the line this time around thanks to Sunday’s Grey Cup game being played here, there were no teary-eyed dissections or farewells as the players seemed resigned to the fact they simply weren’t good enough this year.

“Saskatchewan was indeed the better team,” said Burris.

“If it was a situation where it was a bitter defeat – of course it’s already bitter enough as it is - but when you lose to a team and they prove they’re better than you then, hey, kudos to them.”

With Saskatchewan (the players and the rest of the province) slated to arrive in Calgary Wednesday, longtime equipment manager George Hopkins already had the wheels in motion to cover up the signs commemorating the Stamps’ Grey Cups, West titles and retired jerseys.

(No word on the fate of the signs outside his office: “Rookies should be seen and not heard – the quicker they realize that and let their skills do their talking for them the better off they’ll be.”

And, “We furnish everything except shoes and guts.”)

And while the mere thought of handing over their sacred ground to the enemy clearly grated on most players, they took great solace in the fact the room will quite literally be blown up for massive renovations soon thereafter.

“The fact that they’re trashing this place afterwards is a good thing,” said Burris, wishing DeAngelis all the best as he attempts to crack an NFL roster once again.

So, as the o-linemen finalized pans for one last feast together, Ken-Yon Rambo and Ryan Thelwell insisted they’d be back from injury next year, Nik Lewis shuffled off to knee surgery and Joffrey Reynolds spoke up upcoming negotiations on a new contract, it’s clear it didn’t take long for the players to focus on looking ahead instead of looking back.

While hundreds of Stampeders diehards posted tickets for sale on online, and players debated whether they’d stay in town or watch Sunday’s game between two teams they never beat, the group took the loss in stride as they signed footballs, jerseys and hats on their way out the door.

And maybe – just maybe - that was part of the problem: maybe the fire that propelled this team to prove everyone wrong last year was extinguished in Montreal last year when they raised The Cup.

Or maybe they just weren’t good enough.

Judging by the game Sunday and the room Monday, it was likely a deadly combination of both.


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