Esks biggest joke in pro sports?

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:26 PM ET

Minutes after his Stampeders administered the biggest beating in Labour Day history, Nik Lewis felt compelled to throw one last handful of dirt on the Eskimos grave.

"I'm not even sweating yet," laughed the Stamps receiver in as satisfied a locker-room as you'll ever see without a Grey Cup present.

With just five yards rushing to match their five points in a 47-point loss to Calgary Monday, the Eskimos officially replaced Edmonton's Oilers as perhaps the biggest joke in pro sports.

However, even in Calgary -- where taking delight in Edmonton's ongoing pratfalls is as satisfying as $150-a-barrel oil -- there has to be a small number of sports fans who feel a tad bit sorry for the Eskimos.

After all, anyone who has ever strapped on a pair of cleats, sneakers or hockey skates knows it's more pleasant going through a tax audit or helping a friend move than having your keister whipped between the lines.

That said, good luck finding anyone in the Stamps room taking pity on a former rival who has surrendered 120 points their last two meetings AND has to face another savage beating Friday.

"Hey, I was 4-14 -- nobody took it easy on us," smirked Lewis of the 2004 edition of Michael Feterik's Stamps the rest of the league enjoyed laughing at.

"I'm one of two guys left from that team -- Joffrey (Reynolds) came late. I know what it feels like to be there -- but at the same time I don't feel sorry for anybody.

I put in the hard work and we deserve it. The whole team does. It's not like we just showed up."

Henry Burris had a slightly softer stance, but with the same message -- too bloody bad.

"I feel sorry for guys -- I love Richie Hall to death and I love a lot of guys on that team but, hey, we're out there to do our jobs and they understand that," said the Stamps quarterback, who has also endured his share shellackings.

"We've been in that position before and got our tails kicked. All you can do is say something good to them at end of the day."

In particular Burris sought out human tackling dummy Ricky Ray after the game to try pumping his oh-so-deflated tires.

"I talked to Ricky at the end of game and told him to keep his head up and keep slinging," said Burris, whose counterpart completed less than half his passes and tossed two interceptions while running for his life.

"To me he's one of the best passers that'll ever play in this game. He's an accurate passer but it's tough when things aren't working the way you want. You're getting hit and guys aren't making plays and you get complacent and don't make some of the throws you can make. That's what they're going through now."

And while it makes for horrific TV, it's prime chuck for talk radio and those around Alberta's water coolers discussing how sad the once-proud Eskimos now look.

Burke Dales was one of the few comfortable enough to admit he felt compassion for the visitors.

"I actually feel sorry for them a bit," said the Stamps punter.

"Some of those guys are my buds and they're actually a pretty good group of guys."

Good guys. Bad football players.

Over the next few days another player or two may surface, admitting it's only human to pity the less fortunate. However, they'll likely couch such sentiments with a reminder the only emotion they'll carry into Commonwealth Friday is one bent on beating said chumps by even more.

"As much as you feel for them a little bit you've got to continue to do your job because if it was flipped they'd do it to you," said Burris.

"They've got a lot of pride and a lot of talent and they're going to keep pushing and we have to keep pushing to hopefully keep them on their heels."

On their heels is being kind. They're on their asses, which is exactly where the remorseless Stamps will soon reconvene kicking the sorriest bunch of Eskimos the franchise has ever seen.


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