Streak nothing to kid about

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:38 PM ET

Godfrey Ellis had to rummage around in the back of his brain for a while, digging for the answer.

"In 1993?" answered the rookie o-lineman.

"I was 11 years old and in Grade 7 in junior high school at that point. In Nassau, Bahamas."

Thirteen CFL seasons ago when fresh-faced rookie Jamie Crysdale was finding a home along the Stampeders offensive line, Ellis was a world away.

Not only was he oblivious to the genesis of Crysdale's monumental 210-game regular-season streak, he wasn't even aware of the CFL.

Tonight, he's all too familiar with the lengthy run of starts -- one of the longest in league history for a non-kicker -- as the 36-year-old Crysdale's wonky knee, scoped on Tuesday to repair a torn meniscus, will force him to miss tonight's clash against Winnipeg with Ellis assuming the starting role at centre.

Doug Davies (1989-94) was the last Stampeders player prior to Crysdale to snap the ball to a Red and White QB, a man by the name of Doug Flutie.

Crysdale admitted his streak was an impressive accomplishment.

"I never went into a game thinking this is the next game of my streak but it's amazing I was able to accomplish 210 games," Crysdale said yesterday. "I'm happy about the accomplishment, about being able to play that long and have the durability, so I'm very lucky."

Crysdale played through intense pain last week in Vancouver, a sure sign it was time for surgery and a deserved rest.

"It wasn't difficult after the B.C. game because they had shot me up with quite a bit of drugs and it didn't do anything, so I knew there were problems," Crysdale said.

"The kind of pain I was in, I didn't want to keep going in with that, streak or no streak. So, we got in for surgery as soon as we could after the weekend."

Although Ellis played a couple of games at left tackle earlier this season, replacing injured Alexandre Gauthier, this week's practice sessions provided his first opportunity to snap the ball to QB Henry Burris.

"Thirteen years for a lineman -- that's a pretty long time," understated Ellis, a 2005 draft pick who played three seasons at Acadia, his only formal football training prior to this season. "I have so much respect for guys like Jamie who's been doing it for such a long time and for Jamie to be playing all these years without having to miss a game is just unbelievable."

Unbelievable even to Crysdale, who hopes to return to his starting role as soon as next Friday when the Stamps host the B.C. Lions but could be out two weeks. The durable Mississauga product played all 18 starts last season despite torn pectoral muscles suffered in the pre-season.

He was drafted by the B.C. Lions in 1992 and was traded to Calgary later that year.

Ellis said snapping the ball to the quarterback was something he took for granted prior to this week. Now it's his sole focus, working on avoiding miscues while pleasing both Burris and his new tutor.

"I never really paid that much attention to it before but after this week I realize it's a pretty tough job, not as easy as it seems," Ellis said. "I have lot of respect for all the other centres now because it takes a lot of training and hard work. I hope to do (Crysdale) proud because he's been such a great help to me this week."

Burris signed in Calgary as a free agent in February, partly on the strong recommendation from Crysdale.

He expects Ellis to provide a seamless transition from the veteran.

"You never can replace a guy like Jamie who's been in this league for 12-13 years but at some point he's got to hang up the shoes and pads so what better time than now to get a young guy like Godfrey Ellis in there," Burris said.


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