Count wins, not stats

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

Statistics can stake your claim as an all-time great.

Championships are more likely to leave you a legend.

If what we're watching here are the early chapters of The Legend of Ricky Ray, we're now back to the main portion of the plot.

The Edmonton Eskimos quarterback has never lost a playoff game.

He's two for three in Grey Cup games, including being named MVP in his last one.

Every time he's made it into the playoffs, he's made it to the Grey Cup.

"As a quarterback, championships mean more than statistics. You can be considered a great all-time running back on statistics, but as a quarterback, you're looked at in terms of winning championships. That's what I want to be all about," Ray said yesterday.

After being so rudely interrupted by being forced to pilot two pathetic teams in which he had virtually no protection, Ray is now back in business on the big stage.

"It's all about the Grey Cup. I want to get back there. This is what you play for," he said as he prepared to begin the process with his teammates today.

If you're searching for reasons to believe the EE can become the first crossover club to win an Eastern Conference playoff game, you start with RR.

Football is about a whole bunch of different areas and how the people in each of those areas play. But in the CFL, particularly in the playoffs -- even if it's true that Ray required relief, with Jason Maas getting the save in the two post-season games in 2005 -- it's about your starting quarterback.

If you had to pick your pivot for the East semifinal, who are you going to take?

On the season, Winnipeg quarterback Kevin Glenn was 294 for 455 (64.6%) for 3,675 yards with 20 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions.

Ray ended up 422 for 605 (69.8%) for the 5,663 yards with 26 touchdown passes against 17 interceptions in a much tougher division.

For a just-turned 29-year-old guy who skipped a season to carry a clipboard for the New York Jets in the NFL, Ray has a set of stats that put him well on the way to greatness.

His 2,193 completions for 3,257 attempts (67.3%) for 27,456 yards with 153 touchdowns against only 91 interceptions is one whale of a set of stats for six seasons -- and not likely halfway through his career.

But it's going to three Grey Cups and winning two in his first three years in the league which was his original claim to fame.

And now, after two years of seeing the other end of it, it's Ricky Ray time again.

"After the last two years it's nice to be back. It's been a long two years.

"It really makes me appreciate what I was able to do in my first three years. Playing at this time of year is precious. To not even be in ...

"It was weird watching the playoffs the last two years instead of being in them," he said.

Ray, who has started seven post-season games (including the three Grey Cups), is 152 for 238 (63.9%) for 1,917 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions against the best teams in the worst weather.

Solid stats. But at the end of the day, in the post-season, it's about the wins.

"I was very fortunate to come in when and where I did," he said of 2002.

"It was definitely the right place at the right time. The year before this team had been to the Western final and lost.

"When we got to the Grey Cup and lost in 2002, it was a group determined to win in 2003.

"To be honest, being out of the playoffs these last two years hasn't been as tough as it was during the off-season after losing that Grey Cup game.

"It was worse for me to get there and not to get it done than it was not to get there these last two years. That said, you've got to get there to get it done."

And Ray thinks there's a team here to get there.

"The good thing about this team going in this year is that we've been able to beat everybody in the league. We know that if we put it together we can beat anybody.

"We know if we put it together and play our 'A' game we can beat anybody. We also know that if we don't, we can lose and lose badly. I like the challenge that's pretty much built in there."

It's not a bad thing to know how bad you can be, if you also know how good you can be.

And it's not a bad thing to know your QB has a history of getting his team to the Grey Cup every time he gets to the playoffs.


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