'Shakespeare' aims to script happy ending as Stamp

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:35 AM ET

CALGARY - There is no need for someone like Shakespeare to craft a theme to this weekend, but he’s done just that.

Shakespeare will absolutely be at the centre of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ visit to McMahon Stadium Saturday, a game in which big names are facing their old teams.

Not William Shakespeare, of course. Stevie Baggs — dubbed Shakespeare … because he makes plays — will make his Calgary Stampeders debut a little more than month after signing a practice-roster deal.

It just so happens the Ticats are the team that benched him during the CFL’s East semifinal win over the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Baggs had an ugly divorce from the Ticats, so this game means quite a bit to him.

“I would be lying to you if I said it didn’t,” said Baggs, 30, who went to training camp with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens before signing with Calgary.

“My play was questioned. My ability was questioned. Any time that is questioned, it holds a sore spot with you as a competitor.

“I hold no grudges. Even though this is a business and people say business isn’t personal, I do believe this is personal because it’s conducted by persons.

“There is no ill will. I have love for guys over there, but between the white lines, this is a battle.”

A week ago, the Stamps added former Alouettes defensive end Anwar Stewart and his 66 career sacks to the lineup.

This week, they are replacing Kenny Pettway (illness) with Baggs, and he brings another 26 career sacks to the table.

With Charleston Hughes on the other side of the line, the Stamps now boast some of the CFL’s biggest names when it comes to quarterback pressure.

Stamps defensive line coach DeVone Claybrooks is happy to see Baggs in action after he slowly worked into practice due to a nagging quad injury.

With Baggs and Stewart out there (a combined 239 career regular-season games), the Stamps have an even more veteran presence on the defensive line.

“It’s a gift and a curse. They’ve fought wars. They think they know everything,” Claybrooks said. “In all seriousness, it’s like having coaches on the field.

“They’ve played a million years between the two of them. There isn’t a football situation they haven’t been in. A lot of times, it’s great to get the input when they come to the sidelines.

“They can actually dissect it. They know what happened. If you ask a younger guy, he will say, ‘I think they did this and that,’ so you can’t clean it up. With these guys, they can lead and do it by example.”

There is a possibility the Stamps can essentially end the Ticats’ season with a victory. If the Argonauts beat the Blue Bombers and the Eskimos beat the Lions Friday, a loss in Calgary would eliminate Hamilton — led by former Stamps quarterback Henry Burris — from the post-season contention.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNIanBusby


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