He said what?

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

"They've got a couple of people on their offensive line that probably couldn't play at my high school."

- Nate Davis

"I'd be a little embarrassed if one of our guys went and said something like that."

- Tom Higgins

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Ah, yes, it was a good day in the quote-unquote business.

And yes, the "high school offensive line" quote goes on the Eskimos bulletin board.

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"Some players can't read, so some other players will have to read it to them."

- Tom Higgins

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I'm not sure where that one goes.

"Hey, come on, I'm kidding," said Higgins, the Eskimos' head coach who really was joking but clearly has no future as a stand-up comic.

And for the record, the quote from Saskatchewan Roughriders' defensive lineman Davis was a partial quote. He took a run at CFL officiating in the second half of his utterance: "...but with the way things are called up here, they keep picking up paycheques."

THEY HANDLED IT WELL

The Esks handled the Davis quote well.

"Nate must have had a hell of a high school team," said Ed Hervey.

Jason Maas played it straight and called it "added motivation to play a little harder."

Higgins, when the TV cameras were rolling, said, "I found it humorous."

But when the cameras went away and Higgins sat down with the pen and pencil set, he offered the quote about how embarrassed he'd be if one of his players had made such a statement.

He talked about working as an assistant coach under Wally Buono with the Calgary Stampeders and how he believes quotes like the one from Davis cost that team playoff games against Edmonton.

"Absolutely," he said.

"There were times earlier in his career when Alondra Johnson would say some things that used to make me cringe," said Higgins of the Stampeder future Hall of Famer who comes in here for the West Semifinal as a Saskatchewan Roughrider.

"I'd say 'Why, Alondra? Why?' "

But did if affect the outcome of games?

"Absolutely," Higgins repeated.

"Will this come back on Nate Davis? I'm not sure what people will say if he lets a high school offensive line beat him."

Higgins said he liked what he heard from Lou Holtz in college. "He said, 'If you burn down your neighbour's house, it doesn't make yours look any better."'

Higgins is a big believer that the personality of a team is passed down from generation to generation of players, management and coaches.

"From Norm Kimball to Hugh Campbell to Ron Lancaster to myself," he said. "And players pass down what they feel is acceptable to what's not acceptable. The Eskimo tradition is part of it. From one generation to another 'The Eskimo Way' carries on." He said you could see 'The Eskimo Way' in play yesterday.

"This job never comes with a manual. It's more a feel. I think our fans would be appalled with excessive dancing in the endzone. And as for the talk ... I was with Chuck Knox for one year," he said of the former NFL coach. "I had to hear it 100 times that year: 'If what you do speaks so well, there is no reason to hear what you say."'

Nate Davis definitely isn't going to be disciplined by his general manager. Roy Shivers loves nothing better than to put down Edmonton and Commonwealth Stadium.

REMEMBER LAST YEAR?

Remember those quotes he unloaded on me going into this game last year?

"I hate Edmonton. I never go there. You never see me there. I think it's an ugly city. The stadium is supposed to be the most awesome stadium in the CFL. I don't like the place.

"I hate the grass there. It's the worst turf in the league. And you can't go on it the day before the game. I don't think I've been there since sometime in the '80s when I was with Calgary. I hate the place. I've never had a good time there. I just stay away. I quit going. I stay home and watch the game on TV."

'The Eskimos Way' and the way it is these days in Saskatchewan are night and day.

Each to his own, says Higgins, who admits he and Hugh Campbell wouldn't look right wearing black jackets around Oakland.

"I don't think the Raiders would hire Tom Higgins. They have a little different mystique. It's what they stand for," he said of the black sheep in the NFL flock.

Now, Shivers and coach Danny Barrett ...

"I think the Roughriders have taken on the attitude of those two people, mostly Shivers," said Higgins, who worked with both during in Calgary.

"I think Roy also likes the stage," he added.

I'd take a strong editorial stance on the folly of Davis and Shivers running at the mouth at this time of year, except I'm a sportswriter. I'm all in favor of it.


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