No longer do the Calgary Stampeders have the disrespect card in their deck.
No longer are they being overlooked for individual honours, and they can’t say their efforts aren’t appreciated anymore.
When the CFL all-Canadian list came out Wednesday, the Stamps had eight players honoured, twice as many as any other team.
Back when the Stamps went through to the 2008 Grey Cup, the rallying cry was that nobody gave them credit for being the league’s top team.
That year, they were shut out of individual awards and had four all-Canadians despite posting a 13-5 record.
Now, with three players up for awards next Thursday during Grey Cup week in Edmonton, the Stamps are the playground bullies.
“We aren’t playing with a chip on our shoulder anymore,” said Henry Burris, who picked up his first all-Canadian quarterback honour.
“We’re playing like a team that believes it is destined to win another championship. We know if we continue to do things we have done all year long, we can be successful.”
The Stamps would surely trade in those awards for a trip to the Grey Cup next week. Standing in their way is the Saskatchewan Roughriders Sunday in the West Final (2:30 p.m., TSN).
“It was nice to see our team recognized, but I want to see our team to play like all-stars on the 21st,” said head coach John Hufnagel.
Just as the Stamps may have had players slighted in the past, now the opposite effect may be taking hold.
Could some of the eight players who picked up all-Canadian awards Wednesday get recognized just because they suit up for the Stamps?
It could be the case with guard Dimitri Tsoumpas, who started in only 12 games after returning from an NFL stint. He performed at a high level, but is two-thirds of the season enough for such an honour?
The Stamps now have to deal with being the big dogs, the team recognized as holding all the talent. They should win, and it won’t be a big deal when they do. There won’t be motivation to prove people wrong anymore.
“We aren’t worried about it,” said all-star cornerback Dwight Anderson. “Back (in 2008), we knew we had those all-stars, just as we have them now.
“You can’t let it get to your head. You have to go out and play ball. This is the West Final, the Grey Cup, more money, a good Christmas, another ring … You feel me? If you aren’t pumped for that, then you need to go home.”
Receiver Nik Lewis is one of the six first-time all-stars for the Stamps, and he’s obviously thrilled.
“It feels good getting some due respect out here,” Lewis said. “We still have work to do. We have enough to win this thing. Now we have to go out and do it.
“Being the champ is what our goal is. It’s not to have eight all-stars. It’s to be the best team in this league.”