So it feels like forever to you since the Edmonton Eskimos were last in the playoffs, huh?
I mean, it goes allllllll the way baaaaack to when they won the Grey Cup in '05?
Try being Kamau Peterson.
He hasn't been to the playoffs since ought one -- his first year in the league -- when he won a Grey Cup with the Calgary Stampeders.
"Yeah, it's just your usual run-of-the-mill Eastern semi-final crossover playoff game for me," he laughs.
"When you get there in your rookie year, you feel like you're going to do that every year. I thought I'd finish with four or five Grey Cup rings."
That 2001 Grey Cup for Peterson doesn't seem like just yesterday -- just as the 2005 Grey Cup doesn't feel that way to Eskimo fans who watched their team in the playoffs for 34 consecutive seasons.
"It's been an eternity."
Today Peterson, who was named a Western All-Star, will likely be informed he's going to the Grey Cup as the Western finalist in the CFL Awards as top Canadian, a category an Eskimo hasn't won since Leroy Blugh in 1996.
But going to Winnipeg to play the Blue Bombers in the Eastern Conference semifinal is the big deal for the former Bomber, Stampeder and Tiger-Cat.
"I've been trapped on some really bad teams. And for a few years there, I was definitely not playing at the level I'm playing at now. It took me some time to figure my game out."
LEARNED TO READ
What he figured out was that he'd learned to read a defence on the run but needed a quarterback who could read him reading on the run.
"I had a couple of teams to choose from. I came to Edmonton because of tradition and because of Ricky Ray," said the eight-year veteran.
Now he's what Ray calls his security blanket.
"A lot of times he makes his first read and if that's not there, he tries to find Kamau," said the receiver who had his first 1,000-yard (80 catches for 1,068) season last year and his first 100-catch (101 for 1,315) season this year.
"I'm the most experienced receiver at reading a defence and knowing the time he's reacting and ready to throw," he said of being Ray's Ben Cahoon.
Peterson has the same record in the post-season as his coach. Both he and Danny Maciocia are 3-0. Two playoff games and the Grey Cup.
"I think we're in the same boat here, except I've waited longer. We both won the Grey Cup in our first year. I think that season for him must have been kind of magical. I know mine was for me," said Peterson.
"But I think winning now would mean more for the both of us, probably even more for him. He took over that team in 2005. He's had to turn most of that team over now. He's put this team together. This would be a special thing for him."
Peterson was one reason the 2001 Stampeders got to the Grey Cup.
"We had to win our last regular season game, in Winnipeg, to get into the
playoffs with an 8-10 record. We had to beat Edmonton in the Western final in Commonwealth Stadium, and they went to me.
"I caught five passes for 120-some yards and I was able to have an impact. I was an option, not THE option back then. I was hoping to get one or two balls a game."
It wasn't until he became an Eskimo that Peterson became a go-to guy for not only his quarterback, but for the media.
He's allowed his personality to be shared with the public. He's now generally considered to be the best quote on the club.
"If you're not playing well, who wants to talk to you?" he laughs. "I've guess I've grown into the role of being one of the voices on the team."
As such, he'll be using his voice this week to try convincing the young talent on this team that they can do something here in becoming the first crossover team ever to win an Eastern Conference playoff game Saturday in Winnipeg.
"I like what we have here. It's like Calgary in 2001. The thing that we thrived on going into the playoffs that year was that we felt we could beat anybody in the league if we played well. That's where we're at with this team this year.
"We've been able to beat everybody. We feel we can run with anybody.
"One of our problems this year was all the back- to-back games. We couldn't win both of them. In the playoffs you only have to play the one. And it's only a three-game season."
There is that.
But a one-game losing streak will kill you.