Eskimos cool and pool
By TERRY JONES, QMI Agency
|Joey Moss walks off the field after showing up fully dressed in a game-day uniform after Eskimos practice at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alta., Oct. 30, 2012. (AMBER BRACKEN/QMI Agency)
EDMONTON - It was 20 minutes before the end of the Edmonton Eskimos practice and there was one player in the dressing room. Back-up kicker Brody McKnight.
Except it wasn’t McKnight.
It was Joey Moss.
The famed Edmonton Oilers locker room attendant was dressed, helmet to toe, in an Eskimos uniform with McKnight’s name bar and No. 14 on the back.
Joey was waiting for Dwayne Mandrusiak, equipment man of 42-seasons, to send him out to the field as a gag to loosen up the team prior to their possible win-or-go-home game Friday against the Calgary Stampeders.
When he did, it broke up the entire team. Players were literally doubled over with laughter.
“The best part was when the coach called out ‘Brody, field goal to win the game’ to end practice,” said Calvin McCarty.
“Brody, all puffed up, comes forward to take the kick and coach says ‘No, the other Brody’. And out from behind a bunch of linemen emerges Joey.”
McKnight, who has the kind of body size and shape which could have got him a part as a Hobbit in Lord of the Rings, had no idea it was coming. But he was a sport about it.
“I thought that was pretty good,” said McKnight.
“Joey was top notch. He’s part of our team,” he said of the locked out NHL dressing room attendant working the entire season with the Eskimos this year.
“Coach Kavis does a good job keeping the locker room sane,” said Fred Stamps.
“When you lose, it’s always tough,” he said of turning the page or hitting the refresh button, especially when the team is coming off consecutive losses in games which would have clinched a playoff spot.
But Reed said he had nothing to do with it.
“Dwayne Mandrusiak has been around a long time. His act today was a veterans act. I’m not that smart. I was focused on the game plan. Dwayne knows a critical situation and he has the pulse of the locker room. We don’t want our guys too tight.”
Mandrusiak had nothing to do with throwing the team in into the new Commonwealth Recreation Centre pool on Monday, however.
Ray Jauch did that on a two-game Wednesday-Sunday road trip in a hotel pool in Montreal the day after a game in Toronto in the ’70s. But Reed said that’s going to be a regular occurrence around here now.
“The day after the game Sunday and a long flight here with a short week with a game Friday, it’s something that makes sense. It’s been proven the power of aquatics not just in these situations but for injury rehab.”
All Mandrusiak had to do with that was to supply the trunks for the pool. And the rubber duckies.
Mandrusiak has, however, on many an occasion been worthy of receiving the game ball for the advantage he provided the Eskimos by bringing into play the largest supply of different shoes to choose in different conditions at this time of year ever collected in football. But that advantage disappeared when the Eskimos put in the new field turf to replace the last grass field in the league.
Indeed, the Eskimos will be at a disadvantage Friday night and that historically never happens at this time of year.
Calgary has played two games in this kind of weather.
They’ve practiced in it while the Eskimos, with an inordinate number of players recruited by Eric Tillman and Paul Jones from the deep South who will be on the first plane out of town two days after the season is over, have gone inside to their toasty new field house.
Not this week, though.
“We’ll practice outside the next two days as well,” said Reed who had them on a field where the snow hadn’t been scraped off evenly and where snow banks stood on the sidelines.
“We’ve used the field house. It’s very important this week to practice in this weather,” he said of preparing for the 7 p.m. Friday game with a forecast for a game time temperature of minus-2.
“We need our quarterbacks to get used to the weight of the ball and all the other aspects involved.”
Mandrusiak has arranged for propane heaters on the sidelines for the next two days of practice. Not to keep all the southern guys warm, but for another reason.
There are so many newcomers to the team, they need to be educated.
“We have to show them how to use them. In and out. Don’t stand in front of them. If you stand in front of them that just makes it colder when you come out.”