Hometown advantage for Davis

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

This is Eddie Davis' Grey Cup homecoming.

And not just because the Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back is expecting to see thousands of watermelon-wearing fans in the stands at McMahon Stadium for tomorrow's Grey Cup matchup with the Montreal Alouettes.

Davis, who spent five seasons with the Stamps and won his first championship ring in Red & White in 1998, made Calgary his adopted hometown more than a decade ago.

"I'm just enjoying this whole week -- enjoying being back at McMahon Stadium, being back at my old locker. This is going to be a great week," Davis said. "I'm loving this right now. You couldn't ask for anything more."

Not to mention sleeping in his old bed.

Most of the imports suiting up for Riders and Alouettes won't see their families for a few more days, but the 36-year-old Davis is an exception.

Even though he's following the same hectic schedule as the rest of the Cup participants, he's seen his wife and two children more often this week than he normally would during the football season.

In fact, the talkative defensive halfback just moved into the Riders' team hotel last night after spending a few nights with his loved ones at their southwest home.

Davis grew up in St. Louis, Mo., and is quick to admit he dreamed about earning his paycheques on a 100-yard field.

After 15 years in the CFL, though, he's a staunch defender of the Canadian game.

"I'm very grateful for this league, for these fans, for Canada, in general," Davis said.

"This is where I made my living. This is where I've made my family. This is my new home.

"I'm grateful for having had this opportunity to play up here. I've seen a lot of NFL guys come up here and think this league is a rinky-dink league, but most of those guys can't stick in this league.

"You've got some great athletes up here, and I think we can play with anybody in the world.

Ironically, Davis had to move south for his first taste of three-down football.

After a stellar collegiate career at Northern Illinois, he signed a free-agent pact with the Birmingham Barracudas in 1995, spending one season in Alabama before the CFL scrapped their failed American expansion plan.

He was scooped up by the Stamps in the dispersal draft and spent five seasons in Red & White before signing with the Riders in 2001.

Davis ranks among the active leaders with 34 career interceptions and has also racked up nearly 1,000 tackles in his CFL career. Tomorrow, he'll try to add a third championship ring to his resume.

What a journey it's been.

"Honestly, I didn't even think I'd been playing CFL football when I came out of college," Davis said.

"I was fortunate enough to get a contract sent to me from a guy named Roy Shivers and I said, 'What the hell? Let me go down there.'

"It was a $30,000 contract. That was my first contract and I loved it. I thought I was making big, big money."

WES.GILBERTSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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