Stamps, Riders return to scene of crime

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:28 PM ET

CALGARY For Saskatchewan, its the scene of the crime.

For the Roughriders, its the game to get to the game to get a do-over for what happened with the last play too many men penalty which cost them the Grey Cup here last year.

For the Calgary Stampeders, a team which has been knocked off by the Riders in the playoffs in three of the last four years, its the scene of so many crimes. Six times in the last 18 years Calgary has earned the right to play host to playoff games and lost them.

Theres no suggestion here that the major motivation of every player who will take the field in minus-13 C temperatures for the western final isnt simply to get to the Grey Cup game period, to become a champion and get his name on the Cup and win a ring.

But there is definitely the above inspirations, if you can call them that, involved. And some players on both teams are willing to admit there may also be an itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny tad of a motivation of winning the right to move into the Edmonton Eskimos state-of-the-art new dressing room thats part of a $110 million upgrade to Commonwealth Stadium and play a Grey Cup game in home of the place formerly known as the Evil Empire to both their sets of fans.

Twice the Eskimos have moved into the Stampeders dressing room and won Grey Cups. In 2005 the Eskimos moved into the Roughriders room and won the Cup there as well. The Roughriders played in the 1997 Grey Cup game in Edmonton but lost. The Stampeders have never had the pleasure.

Were trying hard not to think about it, said Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris.

Its never been done in the history of the Calgary Stampeders where a Stampeders team has been able to open the pearly gates of Edmonton to the City of Calgary. And weve been constantly reminded of that all week.

For all weve done this year, it would be embarrassing to go out there this week and lay an egg. If we can get this victory, wow, I think the city of Calgary might shut down for a whole week and move to Edmonton.

And I hear those dressing rooms are real nice. I poked my head in earlier this year but they chased me off.

Nik Lewis says hes got dibs on Kenny Pettways stall in the Eskimos room, the two being best friends who hang out in the off-season.

Im all for going to the City of Champions. Why not go there to become a champion?

You dont want to get ahead of yourself here. But for some particular players its hard not to.

Ive thought about it, said Stamps offensive lineman Dimitri Tsoumpas, the Edmonton native who ranks right up there as one of GM. Danny Maciocias major mistakes for a draft day gaffe when he was in the Eskimos offices to be the first pick of the draft when he traded the pick to Calgary.

I want to play in Commonwealth Stadium for a championship. Thats where it started for me, going to games.

Another Edmonton native, Wes Lysak, says nice angle, but ...

I dont really care. Id just be happy to be in the Grey Cup. I dont care if its in Hamilton, Nova Scotia or anywhere. Ive been in this league eight years. Ive been in one Grey Cup.

Other than 2008, Calgary hasnt been able to close.

And Saskatchewan couldnt close here last year because somebody couldnt count.

Last year was a heart-breaking loss, said Roughriders receiver Andy Fantuz.

All season we put it aside to get to this point. Theres one step left. It comes down to one huge game to get back.

Quarterback Darian Durant admitted it.

Thats what it is all about for me. Thats been in the back of my mind all season, he said.

The way it ended last year gave us a little more motivation and maybe a greater sense of urgency to get back this year, especially when youre in my category of being 37 years old, said 16-year veteran Gene Makowsky.

The old offensive lineman doesnt know if this could be his last year, but an Edmonton Grey Cup game would work for him.

Thats where I came in. The 1997 Grey Cup in Edmonton was my first year in the league. We had to win a semifinal here and the final in Edmonton to get in. Its something I will always remember. There was such a great atmosphere at Commonwealth Stadium with 95% of the people in the stands our fans.

Hed like a do-over on that one, too.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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