November 15, 2012
Will history repeat itself for the Argos?
By STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Orlondo Steinauer remembers the weekend well. That trip to Montreal. The nervousness. The stunning victory over the Alouettes. And the Argo team so full of elation.
It was eight long years ago. The National Hockey League had locked its players out and not yet cancelled the season. Pat Hentgen won his final two games as a big leaguer. And the Argos were going to the Grey Cup in Ottawa. It was so long ago Grey Cup games were actually played in Ottawa.
And the feeling Steinauer recalls the most was that of football naivete: “What do you do?” he said. “A lot of us didn’t know. We hadn’t been. It was Grey Cup. It was our first one.”
He doesn’t remember many details from the 2004 Eastern final. “I just remember the elation, the feeling of elation. What a feeling that was.”
Steinauer was a defensive captain on that Grey Cup-winning team. He is now coaching the Argos’ secondary. And he became an Argo when he was traded by Hamilton in a deal for Mike O’Shea of all people. That’s the same Mike O’Shea who played most of his 16 CFL seasons for the Argos and was a huge part of the 2004 Grey Cup team and just happens to be the Toronto special teams coach now.
There has long been this link between Steinauer and O’Shea, not just because of the trade, but because they walk together as part of the last meaningful championship this city has known, and they walk together now into Montreal this weekend with the hopes of repeating history.
“There was a lockout then,” said O’Shea, with that almost maniacal linebacker-like smile on his face. “We won (the Grey Cup) in the last lockout. We might as well do it again.”
What O’Shea recalls most about the 2004 Eastern final win in Montreal was the hit by defensive lineman Eric England that knocked quarterback Anthony Calvillo out of the game. “They put in their backup, I think his name was (Ted) White, and our secondary just ate him up. The game just changed in our favour then.”
The Argos beat the B.C. Lions to win their last Grey Cup. To get to the 100th Grey Cup, at home, the game they’ve been hearing about from the day the season began, all they have to do is beat Calvillo again. And that doesn’t happen often.
Calvillo has quarterbacked the Als to seven of the last 10 Grey Cups. He doesn’t always win them — the Als have won just three of seven, and one of those came because Saskatchewan couldn’t or didn’t count to 12 — but they get there.
That’s really all this week is about for the Argos. They don’t necessarily have to win the Grey Cup. But winning on Sunday at the Big O, getting there, will do more to breathe life into the 100th celebration than all the Spirit of Edmonton rooms you can find.
O’Shea likes Toronto’s chances. He said, unlike the 2004 championship team, the Argos have more sides to their game than the Pinball Clemons-coached title team: “With that team, I just remember playing a lot.” He played on Rich Stubler’s bend, but don’t break defence. He ran special teams. He rarely came off the field. The Argos had, um, a somewhat unreliable offence.
“This team has an offence,” said O’Shea. “I think we’re carrying some momentum with our offence.” Quarterback Ricky Ray has thrown for 10 touchdowns, ran for one, and more importantly, turned the ball over only once, in his last three Argo starts.
And O’Shea believes the Argos didn’t just play well enough to win in Montreal in 2004, but they did it in 2003 also, only to be haunted to this day by a fumble that wasn’t called a fumble. “It was before instant replay,” said O’Shea. “I was trailing the play from behind and I could see the ball coming out (of Calvillo’s hands). I think it was Clifford (Ivory). I think they brought in instant replay right after that.
“You don’t really remember the wins all that much. But the losses ... those mistakes are burned in your mind.”
Earlier this season, the Argos won in Hamilton, won in Regina, won in Calgary, even won early in Montreal. Oddly, they have a better record on the road than they do at home. “We can do it,” said Steinauer. “I don’t feel like there’s anything we can’t get accomplished. I’ve got a good feeling about this.”