Beware the blemish-free record!

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Is it too early to let the 11-0 British Columbia Lions in on what they're doing to themselves?

Are they aware what happens to teams in the Canadian Football League who have exceptional regular seasons?

Edmonton knows all about them. Edmonton has won a dozen Grey Cups but the best Eskimo teams didn't get there.

The first exceptional Edmonton team was a 12-4 team in 1953. Nobody, East or West, had a better record than 8-6 behind them. Did not get to the Grey Cup.

While the Eskimos would win three straight for Pop Ivy in 1954-55-56, ask Jackie Parker, Normie Kwong or any of those guys from that era which was their best team. They'll all tell you 1957. That team went 14-2. Did not get to the Grey Cup.

Then there was Joe Faragalli's 16-2 Eskimos team in 1989. Did not get to the Grey Cup.

Winnipeg had a 14-2 team in 1960. Did not get to the Grey Cup. Saskatchewan was 14-2 a decade later. Did not get to the Grey Cup.

The too-good-for-their-own-good scenario is more than familiar to Lions coach Wally Buono. He went on some remarkable runs out of the gate with the Calgary Stampeders only to have a wagon wreck in the Western Final.

Buono's Stampeders were 15-3 in 1993. Did not get to the Grey Cup. His Stamps were 15-3 again in 1994. Did not get to the Grey Cup.

It's a horrid history made worse by teams that start the season with a winning streak.

Buono's '93 Stampeders started at 10-0. Montreal, in 2002, started the season at 8-0. The Alouettes have an amazing recent history of starting the season with streaks and having no Grey Cup to show for them.

Just last year the Als won their first six and led the league with a 14-4 record. Did not get to the Grey Cup.

But the Lions, who stretched their streak to 11-0 when Als head coach Don Matthews went for the regulation-time win instead of tie last Saturday night in Vancouver, are doing something special.

The only team to run the table in the modern-day history of the league was the 1948 Calgary Stampeders, Les Lear's team, which went East with a train-load of rootin' tootin' fans with horses and chuckwagons and created the modern era, making the Grey Cup the grand national party it remains to this day.

It was a 12-game schedule in those days. The Stamps were 12-0 with 218 points for and 61 against.

If the Lions defeat the Eskimos tomorrow night at Commonwealth Stadium the Leos will match that 12-0 record.

With the Lions having won their last three regular season games in 2004, it's actually a 15-0 run.

The longest CFL winning streak in history is 22-in-a-row by Calgary from Aug. 25 1948 to Oct. 22 1949. The Lions, with the win over Montreal, have tied the second-longest streak of 14, owned by the Eskimos from Oct. 16 1954 to Oct. 1, 1955.

Not only do the Lions have to face the too-good-for-their-own-good scenario, they also have to deal with the move-out-of-your-dressing-room Grey Cup host jinx.

Teams playing host to the Grey Cup which finish first have a horrid history of losing the Western Final at home.

This year's Grey Cup is in Vancouver. It would now take a collapse of catastrophic proportions for the Lions not to also play host to the Western Final.

Edmonton fans know about this, too. Ron Lancaster coached the Eskimos to a 12-6 season in 1997 but watched the Saskatchewan Roughriders beat them in the Western Final and come back to Commonwealth Stadium to use their dressing room for the Grey Cup game.

Calgary knows all about it, too. Twice in the last dozen years, both times with Buono as coach, the Stampeders have finished first and failed to get to the Grey Cup game at McMahon Stadium.

It's also happened twice to the Lions.

B.C. came in with a 13-5 record in 1999 to finish first but lost the Western Final in B.C. Place to Calgary and the Stampeders spent Grey Cup week in their dressing room.

In 1987 B.C. finished first only to have the Eskimos beat them in the Western Final in Vancouver and spend the next week in their dressing room and win the Grey Cup in Vancouver.

The Lions arrive here today. They need to know all this stuff.


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