Grey Cup or bust

Jude St. John joined the Argos in 1998 after their back-to-back Grey Cup victories, but has never...

Jude St. John joined the Argos in 1998 after their back-to-back Grey Cup victories, but has never made it to the final in his 10-year Canadian Football League career. (File Photo)

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

Jude St. John would give anything to get to the Grey Cup and beat the Montreal Alouettes along the way.

The veteran Argo offensive lineman has yet to appear in the CFL's championship game in nine previous seasons, although he has made it to the East Division final the past two years. In each game, the Als beat the Argos.

And as he approaches his 32nd birthday on Dec. 4, St. John has begun to look at what fate has in store, in particular this Sunday's division final at Olympic Stadium.

"Especially when you're in the exact same situation for the third year in a row," he said yesterday. "Playing Montreal in Montreal, you're playing a team that finished ahead of you in the regular season and you just wonder when you get to be my age how many more opportunities will slip by and how many more are coming.

"You don't want to think beyond this game. You want to try to focus on this game, but the whole point of this game is getting to the Grey Cup. You never hear anybody talk about how many Eastern finals they've won or how many times they've won their division. It's how many times you've won the Grey Cup. This really is a stepping stone to get there, so you've got to focus on it."

St. John isn't even sure how many more years he'll play.

"I always wanted to play 10 years and this is my 10th year," he said. "I think I've got a few more years in me, but winning a Grey Cup may change how long or how short my career is going to be. It may not, but definitely not even having played in a Grey Cup yet, it would be awfully tough to leave the game without doing that.

"If you win it, it's a time to consider (retiring). You've finally accomplished the goal that's eluded you, the one you've been chasing for all this time. You may choose not to or you may choose to, but at least you can entertain the idea. If you don't get there, then you've never won it, so that would definitely affect that type of decision."

St. John joined the Argos in 1998 as a free agent from Hamilton, the year after Toronto won back-to-back Grey Cups. The Argos have yet to make it back.

The Als have defeated the Argos in Montreal in the previous seven meetings. St. John points to the homefield advantage and the crowd support as pivotal factors.

"Definitely the odds are stacked against you," he said. "Getting over them is the biggest hurdle, but you know they've beat everyone in the last three years. There's not many teams they haven't owned. They only lose three or four times a year. For the most part, if you want to look at their record the last three or four years, they're going to be dominating most of the teams."

THE NOISE FACTOR

The Argos practised indoors yesterday at a golf dome in Oakville using fake crowd noise to try and replicate the conditions at the Olympic Stadium.


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