Loudmouths 'R' Us!

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 3:05 PM ET

So, you know what this means, don't you?

I mean, beyond the obvious, which is that Saskatchewan really shouldn't have put those playoff tickets on sale two weeks ago and that Edmonton should now be favoured to win the Western semifinal instead of lose it.

No, what it really means is that the Edmonton Eskimos are about to lower themselves to the level of Calgary and B.C. and go where they've never gone before in all the years of playing host to playoff games at Commonwealth Stadium.

The flagship franchise is about to sink to the level of trying to create the highest level of unnatural noise pollution possible.

Thanks to the B.C. Lions and a high wire act win over the Roughriders Saturday night in Vancouver, Edmonton fans not only will have the Eskimos in the playoffs for a 33rd consecutive season, but a home playoff game for the 18th time in the last 19 years and the 28th time of those last 33 seasons.

Funny how it worked. When Jason Maas left Taylor Field two weeks ago, he was the goat. He woke up the hero of the same game two weeks later. When he brought the Eskimos back for the final 14 points of the game and Paul McCallum missed the last-second field goal, it meant the Eskimos would win the season series to decide a tie in the final standings.

THAT'S A BIG OOPS

When the Roughriders announced before the end of the game that tickets for the first home playoff game since 1988 would go on sale the next morning, it gave the Lions inspiration to battle to the last play.

"Our tickets go on sale first thing in the morning," Eskimos COO Rick LeLacheur announced yesterday. "It's what we always do. We put the tickets on sale when we know we're going to have the game."

Home field changes everything about this game. The Roughriders hate to play in Commonwealth Stadium more than the Eskimos hate to play in Taylor Field.

If this one had been in Taylor Field, it would have been a 6-3 home team vs. a 2-7 away team which had just lost 40-16 in the joint.

But by playing it here, it'll be a 7-2 home team against a 3-6 away team which was whumped 31-7 here this year.

The Roughriders have a long history of talking themselves out of being able to play on the Commonwealth grass before they even get here.

"Wait till they find out we're going to water the field Saturday night," LeLacheur joked. At least, I think he was joking.

But that's all standard stuff going into an Eskimos-Rider playoff game in the place.

What is new is that for the first time in playing host to all those playoff games for all those years, some tonsil-for-hire type will be on the sidelines screaming "Deeeee-fence!" into a microphone, with the volume turned up high enough to be heard in Fort Saskatchewan, if not all of Saskatchewan.

SCREAMING BANSHEE

A disc-jockey-turned-screaming-banshee will shout while Henry Burris tries to call plays in the huddle, begging the crowd to try to create the noise level of a 747 landing when Burris emerges to call the signals.

The lineup change for this one is the Eskimos have decided to add the 13th man.

"Bring cow bells, bring whistles, bring whatever you can." So, Ed Hervey has already started it.

"It's what our players want," said LeLacheur.

Calgary started all this disc-jockey-screaming-in-critical-situation stuff more than a decade ago. Then Wally Buono went to B.C. and it suddenly started happening at Lions games.

CLASSIC OT GAME

When the Eskimos played that classic overtime game in B.C. Place this year, it got ridiculous with the "surround" sound inspiring TSN to diagram on a telestrator the following game, the sound guy moving the levels and allegedly pumping canned crowd noise through the P.A. system.

The Eskimos, an organization which has long chosen to take the high road when it came to this sort of stuff, decided to take the low road last week against Winnipeg.

And with the Rider Nation heading here to take away home-field advantage, the focus is going to be to convince Edmonton fans to outnumber them and out-noise them.

The Eskimos admit it.

"It was a decision we arrived at as a group," said marketing and communications manager Dave Jamieson of the brain trust. "Our players want us to prod the crowd. We're trying to do it with a modicum of taste. We won't be singling out players like B.C. singled out Jason Maas. It's not that we don't think our crowd knows football, knows when to make noise.

"Our players just want us to prod our crowd to make as much noise as they can because it's an outdoor stadium, the biggest stadium in the league, and to have the same effect our fans have to make a lot more noise.

"It's a fine line to walk along this path and not push it over the line like Calgary and B.C.," he said of the rule of making the announcer put a sock in it the moment the visitors break the huddle.

Whatever happened to a mascot holding up a cut-out 'D' with one paw and a white-picket-fence-on-a-stick with the other?


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