Grey Cup Week. It’s here. Hope you’re ready.
The Calgary Stampeders and the Ottawa RedBlacks are the final two teams standing after a long regular season and with the game on Sunday, the last bit of prep is finally underway for the 104th time that a big shiny trophy for doing well on the gridiron is awarded.
For the Stamps, they were by far the best team in the CFL with a record of 15-2-1. Dave Dickinson’s crew had weapons everywhere, especially in the form of 1000 yard rusher Jerome Messam, and Most Outstanding Player of the year nominee in the form of Bo Levi Mitchell who this year threw for 32 touchdown passes and 5385 yards.
For Messam, he takes pride in being a Canadian back, and to be a 1000 yard rusher, a feat that has been accomplished by such CFL legends born north of the border as Jon Cornish, Sean Millington and Normie Kwong. Showing that Canadians can put in the work at running back in the modern era truly is not lost on Jerome.
“It’s very important to show that no matter what side of the border you were born on if you’re a baller you’re a baller. Coaches will find you and it’s important to let guys know that they can get that opportunity but once they get it they have to continue to play play at a high level and keep playing well. Being a Canadian, skill position haven’t historically been for us but I think that’s starting to change and LaFrance showed that last week, it was good for him”.
After running through the Western Division coming in now and finishing off one of the greatest seasons in Canadian football history with a W at BMO Field after going 15-1-1 would be incredible to Jerome with a ton of Western momentum behind them.
“If we win the Grey Cup I think we’ll still be the best team ever to win it. It means a lot to us, sucks we couldn’t beat Montreal in that last regular season game of the year but we’re in the playoffs now and we’re rolling hot, hopefully we can seal the deal on Sunday”.
On the Ottawa side of things yeah, they won the East with mark of 8-9-1 but they made it back to the Grey Cup for the 2nd time in their 3rd year of existence, a feat that hasn’t been touched since such a short period of time since the Baltimore Stallions made it to the big game in both of their seasons in the mid 1990s.
To Ottawa QB Henry Burris to bring home a title in what could possibly be his final game of his illustrious career (one in which he now sits third all time in CFL history in passing yards) would be massive especially in a year in which Smiling Hank has felt many have doubted his guys even more so now going into Sunday as 10 point underdogs to the Stamps.
” That’s one thing we’ve talked about all season long,we’ve always been looked at as the under dogs, coming into the season pretty much everyone put Hamilton as a Grey Cup contender over us along with Calgary. It seems like no matter what we’ve done no one has given us respect. Maybe they don’t like the fact that this has only been three years and we’ve been in the show now two years in a row. It’s like what else do we need to do to get some respect? We know we’ve had injures and we’ve had young guys who’ve had to step in but they’re in it for the same reasons we are.
They want to show the world the gift that they have which is playing football. Look at guys like Kienan LaFrance, look at Antoine Preneau, guys who’ve stepped up. Now here we are going to the Grey Cup, no one gave us a chance even at home against Edmonton and now we’re playing against Calgary. Calgary’s a great football team and they’ve done a lot of great things this year but at the end of the day it’s about playing football Sunday and whoever executes the best and takes care of the football will win the game, why not us?”
One of those young whom helped in Ottawa getting to this stage to play the Stamps was backup running back Kienan LaFrance who thrust himself into the spotlight with an incredible day in the backfield as the University of Manitoba product who had less than 200 yards during the regular season and played mainly special teams put up 157 yards on the ground along with a touchdown in their 35-23 win over Edmonton.
The type of day that LaFrance had last week in near blizzard like conditions in Ottawa was something that could have been out of a dream and for Ottawa’s #27 but as a Manitobian it was no big deal on an afternoon that was a ton of f un for him.
“It was exciting, but I was used to playing in the snow being from Winnipeg, it was alright, it was one of those games where you just live in the moment because if you think about it too much it will get to you mentally, I had a blast”.
Aside from the actual on field football stuff there is literally a never ending list of things to do. There’s a ton of events ranging from the legendary Spirit of Edmonton bash, Touchdown Manitoba, The Atlantic Schooners Down Home Kitchen Party, The CFL Awards and the Calgary Grey Cup Committee’s pancake breakfasts. Book school or work off or or cancel that trip to Bora Bora for this.
No matter the market the Grey Cup has been able to bring a city to life, and yes, there’s been many questions about Toronto as a football city but for this week you’ll see CFL fans from far and wide bring the fun for the Canadian game and a dang good game on Sunday from the dudes in the pads.