Argos would put extra shine on Cup

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

Argos coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons says he refuses to think about a Grey Cup in his hometown without his team involved.

His boss, team president Keith Pelley, couldn't think of anything but on the eve of today's CFL East Division final at the Rogers Centre.

"I don't even entertain that," Clemons said this week. "You are asking me to entertain losing and I can't entertain that."

As solid seven-point favourites over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Argos are bidding to become the first team to play for the championship in their home stadium since the 2002 Edmonton Eskimos.

Without the Argos, next Sunday's game will go on and likely be a sellout.

But the great fear for organizers in a city that hasn't always embraced the league: What would it do to the party?

"The Grey Cup is going to be a success," Pelley said yesterday as the Argos went through their pre-game walkthrough.

"But (a Boatmen win) would take it over the top. This is a big, big game for us. I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight."

The previous time the Cup was contested here, thousands of empty seats greeted Winnipeg and Calgary. The buzz on the street barely existed.

But with the Argos, who are 3-1 in East finals played at the Rogers Centre and have played in the past five division title games, that would all change. Add in the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who face the B.C. Lions in today's West final and Pelley would hit his Grey Cup exacta.

The Argos are riding a seven-game win streak and seemingly hitting their stride at the best possible time.

The league's leading defence has surrendered just one touchdown in its past three games. And the offence had a breakout 41-point show two weeks ago in Saskatchewan including a career-high 366-yard passing effort by Michael Bishop.

"As a team, we understand that if we don't get it done, there's no next week for us," Bishop said yesterday. "We would have to watch two other teams play in our city.

"We understand the nature of the game (today), how important it is to the ownership and the city."


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