Maciocia has players believing

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

Danny Maciocia gathered his team on the practice field in a large circle yesterday and made his start-the-season speech.

Paul Anka or Frank Sinatra should have been singing I Did It My Way on the wind from a loudspeaker over at Commonwealth Stadium as background music.

"I told them: You guys are all here because I want you here. There is no general manager telling me to play you.

"Our president is the first guy that will tell you that he is a business guy not a football guy. So, you are all here because we - as a football staff - have chosen you.

"There is no pressure here that I am supposed to play someone I don't want to play and I am forced to deal with you."

MADE A STATEMENT

And there it was. From the day Hugh Campbell announced his resignation and Maciocia was promoted to the position of head coach and director of football operations, it's kind of been the elephant in the living room.

The statement he made to his players yesterday was one he couldn't have made before.

"No, no ... I couldn't," he said. "This one is clean. With the players. With the coaches. With the scouting. With everybody."

It's the story of the season we're about to watch here.

"The dynamics of the organization have changed. We've renovated and restructured. Our hope is that it's going to be good. One thing we're sure of, it's definitely different.

"It was different for me when I embarked on the crusade of ours in the off season to try and find these players. This time I was front and centre with Paul Jones. I've never done as much travelling as I did this year. You could definitely say my fingerprints are all over it. It's the first time I've been in this position. Prior to this, that wasn't the case."

Maciocia said there was only one intent with his speech to the team.

"What I was really telling them was that they earned it. They weren't there for any other reason than they deserved to be there. We all have bosses and at times they may impose certain players to you because they'd given somebody a $50,000 signing bonus and that's all there is to it, that player was going to be here.

"I just wanted to let all these guys know that is not the case here. They did it the old-fashioned way. They earned it.

"I wanted them to feel pretty good about the whole thing. They all deserve to be in the lineup Thursday in green and gold."

Time will tell what this group is going to look like on the football field.

Maciocia's mantra is to keep preaching patience.

Tearing this team apart, starting the season with 20 Eskimo newcomers and 12 new starters, Maciocia doesn't even care if it takes a while for them to figure out they're in Edmonton.

"Some of these guys still don't know where Edmonton is at on the map. If I told them about Jackie Parker, Warren Moon, Tom Wilkinson and all those guys ... they wouldn't come to practice tomorrow.

"Anybody who feels we're Grey Cup contenders today is sadly kidding themselves. If this was happening in Saskatchewan, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Montreal, B.C. or anywhere else, you know what the expectations would be."

GOOD CITIZENS

Maciocia says it remains to be seen just how good a job was done finding new players but he knows they found good citizens.

"We did a character check on all of these guys and they are just good people. I believe in good people. I think that will help you in the long run.

"At camp, we didn't have any report of anybody's wallet missing or car keys missing. These are things that always happen at every training camp. You always have an incident or two. They didn't happen here this year.

"I think this is a close group for a group just put together. It makes the whole coaching group feel pretty good. They've really come together.

"They are far from arriving. But they have really come together."


Videos

Photos