The Calgary Stampeders are tired. They’re tired of talking about a loss that took place a year ago and has long been put to rest.
This is a team that is ready to prove that it’s among the elite of the CFL and more than capable of living up to expectations. The Stampeders have every intention of exorcising their demons when they take on the Toronto Argonauts for the 105th Grey Cup in Ottawa at TD Place Sunday.
Last year the Stampeders were heavily favoured to win the Grey Cup and lost 39-33 in overtime to the Ottawa Redblacks. Calgary has had to relive that game with nearly every interview this week and they’ve had enough.
“It’s been such a long week,” said Calgary defensive back Joshua Bell. “I’m tired of talking to microphones, I’m tired of doing this. I’m ready to see Toronto. We haven’t even gotten to see (Argonauts defensive lineman Shawn) Lemon, I’m ready to talk crazy to Lemon. It’s time.”
Bell knows that the media has to bring up the past, but says this group decided a long time ago to put it behind them and focus on the future.
They played each and every game this season as if it were the biggest game of the year so that there would be no surprises when they actually did get back to the Grey Cup.
“We won the Grey Cup every single week, 18, 19 weeks, we’ve won it and we’ve lost it a couple times,” said Bell. “This week it’s the same preparation to win a game. It’s still 60 minutes of football, maybe some change if we don’t play right, but it’s still 60 minutes of football, it’s still executing one play at a time, still executing the play call, it’s still having fun, it’s still doing our job. Everything is the same. We just actually get what we want at the end of it.”
Once again the Stampeders are favoured to win, but unlike last year they’re not getting caught up in all the noise.
Getting back to the Grey Cup was the goal and now that they have made it they’ll let everyone else revel in all the fanfare surrounding the event as they know they’ll have plenty of time to celebrate after if all goes as planned.
“To me it seems like the guys are locked in,” said Calgary QB Bo Levi Mitchell. “They understand. They’ve bought in and honestly I think guys feel good about what we have to do.
“I think the entire team, as a whole, has a quiet confidence and we’re excited about this game. We’re confident in our game plan, we’re confident in one another and we’re confident we’re going to come out here and get the job done as long as we come out here and do what we’re supposed to do.”
As much as the Stampeders say they’ve moved past last year’s loss there’s no denying it’s been the fuel that’s fired them up. For many that loss was like a physical punch to the gut and they can’t even stomach feeling that one more time.
“I know what it feels like to go all the way, have a great season just to get to the final game and come up short,” recalled defensive lineman Ja’gared Davis. “That sits in the back of the majority of guys’ minds and we don’t want that bitter taste in our mouth again. We don’t want another hiccup like last year.”