Stamps suddenly face of Eskimos

With the departure of quarterback Ricky Ray, wide receiver Fred Stamps is now the face of the...

With the departure of quarterback Ricky Ray, wide receiver Fred Stamps is now the face of the Eskimos franchise. (CODE McLACHLAN/QMI Agency file photo)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:27 AM ET

EDMONTON - When we last left Fred Stamps he revealed, in a QMI Agency exclusive, he’d lost a testicle and testified to the hell he’d been through last season.

In the off-season he lost his quarterback.

And if all that isn’t adjustment enough, Fred Stamps has now returned to town to suddenly find himself as the face of the franchise, the star of the Edmonton Eskimos.

In his first full day back in town Wednesday for the start of Eskimos training camp, Stamps told QMI he believes his lost testicle torture is all behind him and adjusting to the loss of Ricky Ray and getting used to his new status will be much bigger adjustments.

Stamps left Edmonton immediately after the QMI interview in November without doing further interviews on the subject he found difficult to make public.

He told of how he came back three games after Winnipeg’s Jonathan Hefney accidentally kicked him in the groin and how he played the entire second half of the season and two playoff games with physical pain and mental anguish that’s hard for most guys to contemplate.

“Every time I ran it felt like another kick in the groin. Every time, it was like getting kicked all over again. There wasn’t a day I didn’t have to take pain killers to get through the pain. I couldn’t go a day. I had to take something every single day,” he said.

There were times in the Western Final he felt like throwing up, he revealed.

“Anybody who has been kicked there knows about wanting to throw up,” said the player who missed four games due to appendectomy surgery the year before and still led the team in receiving.

“Every day I felt discomfort. And every day I told myself ‘Thank God I’m still able to play football.’ ”

Stamps said Wednesday he can’t wait to get back and attack his sixth season and show his injury is behind him and completely out of his mind.

“It was hard. I did what I had to do in the off-season to be able to come to training camp physically and mentally ready to play again.

“I’m past it. I’m not worried about it now.

“My main goal is to get back on the field and be healthy for an entire season, have fun and win. It’s a kids’ game. Just enjoy being able to play it, healthy, is what I’m looking to do.”

And you don’t think it’s strange for Stamps coming to camp this year? How many Eskimos can you list whose names aren’t Fred Stamps?

“There’s a lot of guys gone, you’re right about that.” I guess Matthieu Bertrand is the only guy left now from the last championship team. And it’s going to be tough without Ricky Ray. You can’t replace Ricky Ray. That’s one thing you can’t do.

“Steven Jyles can’t be Ricky Ray. I had dinner with him Tuesday night. He knows that. You just have to move on. Ricky will be doing the same thing in Toronto. For the first game of the season he’s going to be coming here doing everything he can to win that game.

“The touch of the ball from Ricky was so perfect. When Ricky throws you the ball and it’s coming toward you, you can just pick it out of the air. And Ricky is a good friend, a good quarterback and a really good guy.”

But Stamps says this is pro football and you have to make adjustments throughout your career. And it’s how the Eskimos do that throughout the lineup which is going to decide their season.

“We still have a few veterans on the team, but not too many. It’ll feel strange in that dressing room for a while. I guess it’s just the nature of the game. In and out every year. That’s why they have training camp, for coaches to pick the right quarterback and to start to develop the chemistry as a team. That’s going to be very important this year, to focus on becoming a team.”

How being the face of the franchise will change his life, he’s not sure. He’s certainly going to have to do a lot of post-game media hits now, win or lose.

“I know I’ll have to step up and say a few things. I’m not really a vocal type of guy. It’s good we have Kavis Reed as our head coach that way. That’s one thing I like about Kavis. He can put a fire underneath you.”

Stamps says he believes in his coaches.

“Nobody knows what kind of team we’re going to have here but I’m pretty sure the coaches have a plan. This is what the coaches and GM get paid for. I have all the faith in the coaches and everybody. Hopefully we’ll come together and get rolling.”

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca

Twitter@SunTerryJones


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