Talk is cheap ...

Edmonton Eskimos receiver Terry Vaughn takes to his furry hat for warmth at practice yesterday. But...

Edmonton Eskimos receiver Terry Vaughn takes to his furry hat for warmth at practice yesterday. But what will he be wearing on his feet come Sunday against Winnipeg? (Edmonton Sun/Darryl Dyck)

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

Dead and buried. Done like dinner.

Turn out the lights, the party's over.

Every time Roger Reinson hears another Edmonton Eskimos fan jump from the bandwagon and toss out a well-worn cliche in the process, he shakes his head.

"I listen to the talk shows and a lot of the fan input out there is that they're concerned Winnipeg is going to win two games, over the fact we've got to win one," marvelled Reinson, the veteran Esks long-snapper/linebacker/special teamer.

"Does it disturb me? No. It's just what I hear out there. I'm in the locker room. I know where our minds are. I'm confident in what we have to get done."

What the defending Grey Cup champions have to get done to clinch a playoff spot is defeat the Blue Bombers at Commonwealth Stadium Sunday afternoon.

By his own admission, the 36-year-old is a sports radio junkie only because he doesn't subscribe to cable television or have a TV of any description in his apartment. When you spend as many hours listening to the radio as Reinson does, you've got a pretty good feel for the head space the more vocal Esks fans are in on any given day.

The notion the fat lady might be warming up in the wings is unthinkable as far as Reinson is concerned.

Consequently, Reinson has a cliche of his own for all the Green and Gold bandwagon jumpers: It's never over till the fat lady sings.

"I don't hear a lot of callers calling in saying, 'These guys aren't going to make the playoffs,' " he said. "It's like, 'What if they don't?'

"As an athlete, you don't think that way. And I'm not going to think that way. I'm just telling you what I hear out there.

"It's not that I'm in love with sports radio, it's just that I'm media-challenged when I don't have television."

Wide receiver Ed Hervey is another one of the Green and Gold players who spends a lot of time listening to local sports radio stations. But it's not because Hervey doesn't have television. Truth be told, it's something he's been doing since he was 13 or 14 years old.

FRUSTRATED FANS

The man blessed with world-class speed understands the fans' frustration.

"This city is used to winning," he offered. "It's almost to the point where they're so used to winning that when you're met with any adversity you have to express it in some way.

"We have two great countries in Canada and the U.S. and you have the option to do that. Fans tends to overreact a little more than the guys that are actually doing the job.

"Players tend to say, 'We have a grip on things.' We're not playing as consistent as possible but we can pull it together. Fans only know the outcome of scores and records. They say, 'Oh, my God! We're looking terrible and we're not going to make the playoffs. The world's coming to an end.' "

Hervey is among the first to admit all the breast-beating on the public airwaves could have been averted with one more win somewhere over the course of the first 17 regular-season games.

And like Reinson, Hervey is convinced the Esks can come up with the victory they need Sunday to run the Green and Gold's playoff appearance string to 33 consecutive years.

But the fleet-footed wideout also knows there will come a day of reckoning.

"If we weren't to make the playoffs, then you have to look and say, 'Well, you know, at some point all streaks come to an end,' " Hervey said. "Look at what the Boston Red Sox did to the New York Yankees.

PANIC MODE

"At some point the streak will end. But as a player you don't want it to end while you're playing. When I hear the stuff on the radio, and they have every right to express it, I think most of those fans are just in panic mode. I think they've been in panic mode all year."


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