November 28, 2011
Lions share a special bond
By HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency
|Lions wide receiver Arland Bruce takes a break from cleaning out his locker and poses for a picture at the team's practice facility in Surrey, B.C., Nov. 28, 2011. (BEN NELMS/Reuters)
VANCOUVER - The B.C. Lions stumbled into their practice facility Monday, looking the worse for wear from a night of celebration.
But while voices were hoarse and eyes were bleary, the players were still smiling a day after they claimed the sixth Grey Cup title in franchise history.
"To wake up to something like this, it feels good," defensive back Ryan Phillips back. "It was still surreal (Sunday) night. Now the moment is starting settle in. You don't always get a chance to be part of something like this.
"At the same extent it's also kind of sad because we never know what's going to happen from here. This may be some guy's last days as a B.C. Lion. Whatever the case is it's kind of hard times as well."
Most of the players -- some of whom were out until as late as 5 a.m. -- agreed the locker cleanout was a bitter-sweet moment. But they also understood that they always would share a bond.
"Wally (Buono, Lions coach and general manager) talked about the one common denominator that we have and it's being 2011 Grey Cup champions," slotback Geroy Simon said. "This is one of the most special teams I've seen or been on, just the way we played together and stuck together through thick and thin. It's a great feeling that we accomplished our goal."
Several players may decide to leave on top.
Long-time Leos Brent Johnson and Angus Reid are expected to retire, but they did not confirm or deny it Monday.
"That would be the storybook fairy-tale ending," Johnson, a defensive end, said. "I haven't come to a conclusion on that. It's whether I feel like leaving the game and it's hard to come to terms with. I love these guys and I love playing football, but there are other things in your life that sometimes you need to move on to."
Reid, said he would talk to management about his role and how he fits in before making a decision.
The big topic, however, was the future of Buono.
"What I have to decide on is what I think is best for the organization, but I also have to decide on what's best for me," the 61-year-old Buono said. "Football is something that is in my blood. I've been doing this now for close to 40 years. I feel that as much as the decision is going to be difficult either way, it has to be made for the right reasons."
Meanwhile, the Lions will not have a Grey Cup parade but instead will have a celebration at BC Place Wednesday night. It will be open to the public.