HAMILTON - Gather ’round, everybody.
Shakespeare has a story to tell.
“Just look at the numbers overall,” Ticats defensive end Stevie (Shakespeare) Baggs began Thursday. “This is only my second year starting in this league, and the numbers that I have compared to any other D-end … just go do your research and you’ll see. Ray Charles can see. And so can Stevie Wonder.”
Baggs proclaimed earlier this season he was the CFL’s best defensive end; even better than Winnipeg’s Odell Willis, who leads the league with 12 sacks. Baggs, who has five sacks this year, reiterated his feelings on Thursday.
“Don’t just look at sacks for this season,” Baggs said. “Look at tackles, sacks, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, interceptions, touchdowns, special teams tackles. I’m talking about an all-around football player, and I’m talking about Shakespeare.”
Shakespeare, of course, is the nickname Baggs picked up in college, because “all he did was make plays.” Baggs, who has played 10 more games than Willis but probably has the same number of starts, has more career knockdowns, touchdowns, tackles for a loss, tackles, special teams tackles, interceptions and fumble recoveries.
Willis, the self-described mayor of Swaggerville, was in a very serious mood on Thursday. He said Baggs can take his knockdowns, touchdowns, tackles for a loss, tackles, special teams tackles, interceptions and fumble recoveries, and stuff ’em.
“You get paid to get sacks,” Willis said, his head bowed. “If you want to have 100 tackles, let him go to middle linebacker or something. I’m not worried about it. Let him think that.”
When the voice of the Bombers, Bob Irving, asked Baggs again if he thought he was the best defensive end in the league, the former Bomber put his hand on Irving’s forehead to see if he was feeling OK.
“Let me take your temperature,” Baggs said, putting on a show for the assembled media. “My sacks are down. My tackles are where they should be. Look at the film. Go ask other coaches. Ask them who they game plan for. Nine-five (Justin Hickman) and five-five (Baggs).”
Bombers defensive tackle Doug Brown weighed in on the subject, saying Willis gets the nod because he’s not pigeon-toed like Baggs.
“If anything, Odell edged out Stevie just based on the fact that his feet point the same way. That is the decisive edge. Other than that, it’s a dead heat,” Brown said.
“They’re both excellent defensive ends, but the one thing that puts Odell over the top is that when he’s lining up, he’s pointed the same way he’s going.”