Eyes on the Grey Cup

Edmonton Eskimos' Jason Maas celebrates after his team defeated the Calgary Stampeders 33-26 in the...

Edmonton Eskimos' Jason Maas celebrates after his team defeated the Calgary Stampeders 33-26 in the CFL Western Semi-final at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alta., on Sunday November 12, 2005. (SUN/Darryl Dyck)

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:12 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- It was a different day.

The Edmonton Eskimos were 45 minutes late for their walk-through practice, thanks to getting caught up in the Grey Cup Parade - and didn't even get to see Pamela Anderson.

They showed up dressed down, to the extent that it looked like they'd stopped at a second-hand store on the way and could all really use the $17,800 for winning the Cup.

They were greeted by a media mob which was caught up with the idea that Ricky Ray and Jason Maas were going to be playing their last game together, which if nothing else brought out the line of the day from Ray: "I think I saw Jason at The Spirit of Hamilton room all night.''

There is no Spirit of Hamilton room. And it's hardly a scoop that Maas will almost certainly be heading to Hamilton in a deal to be completed after the Grey Cup.

Ray and Maas dealt with it the same way they've dealt with it for weeks, which was best put by Ray in pointing out that the expectations between the two all year were that they'd both be starting on two different teams in the CFL next year, and they both deserved to be starting quarterbacks in this league.

Montreal coach Don Matthews caused a ripple when he was discussing Troy Davis, the running back who came to Edmonton with Dan Comiskey in the trade which gave the Tiger-Cats dibs on Maas next year.

"When he (Davis) goes for contract negotiations, he needs to triple his pay,'' said Matthews.

Eskimos COO Rick LeLacheur laughed.

"I thought Matthews was a football coach, not an agent.''

Eskimos CEO Hugh Campbell didn't laugh.

"That sounds about right,'' he said.

TAKE THE TEMPERATURE

Other than that we were pretty much left with only one thing to do before the game - to try to take the temperature of the team.

After the Eskimos spent less than 10 minutes gathered in the middle of the field - for no particular purpose but to hang out together prior to making themselves available for media hits - they headed back to the bus to count down the hours to kickoff in the 93rd Grey Cup game vs. the Alouettes.

"Everyone is ready. You walk around our team and you'd think this group had been in the last 10 Grey Cups,'' declared Ed Hervey, the receiver who spent much of the week answering questions about the fact that Ray hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in seven weeks, but wasn't once asked about the fact he hadn't caught one all year.

Hervey hasn't been a touchdown maker, but remains one of the better temperature takers on the team.

"Not one player is overexcited,'' he said.

"No one is talking about how we're going to win it. Everyone is talking about being prepared and making sure we're going to play well. I think the first Grey Cup, we were absorbed by all the activities. I think as a team we came here to have a little fun but not to the point to take the focus from the game. I think we all know that the real fun happens after you win the game.

"I think that's the advantage of having recently won a Grey Cup. We know what it's like to bring it back to the City of Champions. When you play in Edmonton, you know that's what is expected of us. And we know when you do, how much fun it is to take the Cup to every watering hole and restaurant in the city.''

Another noted team temperature-taker, Bruce Beaton, said the Eskimos have been a study that way.

'CALM, RELAXED'

"This has been a very calm, relaxed team.

"It's been different this year than in 2002 and 2003. In '02 everybody was very excited and there was a lot of pressure with the game in Edmonton. In '03 it was all about making up for the year before.

"From my perspective we're just a more experienced group with a lot of guys who have been here before and know how to deal with everything.''

Fourteen-year veteran Sean Fleming said they've all "enjoyed some of the festival but we've also been very focused and very relaxed. This is a team which has been through a lot this year. We've been in a lot of close games. We've been up by 20. We've been down by 20. We're ready for anything.''

Somebody asked rookie head coach Danny Maciocia about Tony Tompkins, who said he believed he was going to return one for a touchdown today.

"If that's the case, we'll elect to receive,'' said Maciocia.

Sometime before Christmas, Jason Maas will become a Hamilton Tiger-Cat and sometime next month Troy Davis will sign a new contract for a lot more money. But today is about one thing and one thing only - winning a 13th Grey Cup for the Edmonton Eskimos.


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