Just another game!

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

It's the Eskimos' third trip to the Grey Cup in four years.

But to a number of players on this year's roster, it's a first.

The Grey Cup is more than just a football game, it's an experience. And for over a dozen Eskimos, it's a foreign experience.

"This may sound crazy, but you have to try and treat it like a regular week, even though it's anything but," said Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia. "Your approach to the week will have a significant impact to how you play on Sunday."

Basically the message is to enjoy the week, but don't lose the game before stepping on the field.

With so many distractions surrounding the game, it's easy to forget the reason for being there in the first place.

"I think you just tell them to do what you do at home. Do what you've been doing all year to get here. Stay with that routine," said Eskimos linebacker Singor Mobley, a veteran of three Grey Cups.

'GO OUT AND PARTY'

"As far as the partying goes, there are going to be times when you can go out and party. But once we get closer to game time, it's time to focus on the task at hand. If you win, then you'll have a long time to party."

Distractions aside, for many players, it's the first time they've played in a championship game -- something that can be overwhelming in itself.

It's been a long and at times tumultuous road for the Eskimos to get to the Grey Cup. For some, the victory over the Lions in the West final has yet to really settle in.

"It's my first championship game ever as a professional, so it's an excitement that I really can't describe," said Eskimos receiver Trevor Gaylor. "This is something we've talked about from the beginning of the season and now it's a reality. All the pressure we've had, all the different critics, and to be able to make it there speaks volumes about this team. I'm at a loss for words."

Unlike Canadian players who grew up watching the November classic, many American players had never heard of the Grey Cup prior to playing in the CFL. Regardless, it has not curbed their enthusiasm about playing in the big game.

"If it's anything like the Western final, it's going to be great," said Tony Tompkins. "Being that it's my rookie year and I'm getting to go to the Grey Cup in my first year, it's going to be great. I'm very excited to go out there and see what the atmosphere is like."

RETURN KICKS

Tompkins himself has never played in a championship game. His ability to return kicks will be a key to the Eskimos' success against the Montreal Alouettes in Vancouver.

"Of course I'll be a little nervous, because it's a real big game, but I'll just have to go out there and play the game I've been playing all season," he said.

"I talked to Ed Hervey and he told me that the whole Grey Cup week is a real crazy week and that we just have to stay focused and not get caught up in everything that is going on around you."

Considering the Eskimos have won the Grey Cup on 12 previous occasions, the team has plenty of experience on how to handle the hype.

The key is passing off that experience.

"There are a lot of Grey Cup rings in this locker- room. I'm very jealous of them and I let everybody know that," Gaylor said.

"It's a week of fun, but it's also a week of focus. You have to embrace the fact that you definitely made it, but if you are not there to win the game then why are you there? The focus is definitely on winning the game, but we'll have our fun."


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