STAMPS NOT FEEL­ING THE LOVE

Coach tries to walk back com­ments, but are fans tired of see­ing Cal­gary in Grey Cup?

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - SCOTT STIN­SON sstin­[email protected]­media.com Twit­ter.com/ Scot­t_Stin­son

Dave Dick­en­son de­cided to just come clean.

He had al­ready apol­o­gized, again, on Wed­nes­day morn­ing for us­ing a cuss word to mod­ify “Cana­dian” when he was com­plain­ing about Win­nipeg coach Mike O’Shea get­ting favourable calls in the West fi­nal.

Now he was on to his other con­tro­ver­sial com­ment from Sun­day, the one where he said he felt like the rest of the coun­try was sick of see­ing his Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers in the Grey Cup.

“I think they en­joy see­ing us fail,” Dick­en­son said after dis­patch­ing the Blue Bombers 22-14 on Sun­day. “Let’s be hon­est about it.”

Three days later and hav­ing had plenty of time for in­tro­spec­tion on the sub­ject, the coach had this to say: “Some­times you just talk too much.”

Preach, brother. Ac­cu­rate as that com­ment might be, there re­mains the ques­tion of whether Dick­en­son was right. Is the rest of Canada kind of tired of watch­ing the Stam­ped­ers play in the fi­nal game of the sea­son?

This is, after all, the fourth time in five sea­sons that the fel­lows with the white horseys on their hel­mets have been the Western rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the Grey Cup.

That kind of dom­i­nance some­times does ran­kle the neu­trals.

Dick­en­son tried to ex­plain him­self a bit fur­ther on Wed­nes­day, pro­vid­ing back­ground to what he said Sun­day: “Do you root for Tiger Woods? Do you root for the guy that’s in that po­si­tion ev­ery year?”

The Tiger com­par­i­son was cu­ri­ous on a few lev­els: Woods has not been in that po­si­tion for many years, let alone ev­ery year, and when he has most re­cently com­peted, he has been noth­ing short of beloved. And when he was dom­i­nant, he won an aw­ful lot. The Stam­ped­ers have not.

Any­way, let us lis­ten to Dick­en­son’s mus­ings: “I men­tioned Tiger Woods be­cause I liked him a lot and then he won a lot more cham­pi­onships, a lot more cham­pi­onships than we have, let’s be clear on that. But I found my­self root­ing for the other guys. ‘Ah, he’s al­ready been there. Let the other guy get there.’ I felt that was the case (with the Stam­ped­ers) last week.”

The coach said he just had the sense that peo­ple — the un­spec­i­fied “they” from his orig­i­nal com­ments — were hop­ing for Saskatchewan or Win­nipeg in the cham­pi­onship. Again, it’s a bit un­clear who he was talk­ing about. Fans in gen­eral? Of­fi­cials? Randy Am­brosie? Matt Du­ni­gan and Rod Smith?

“Maybe I fab­ri­cated my own lit­tle sto­ry­line,” Dick­en­son al­lowed. “But maybe I should have kept those com­ments to my­self.”

The thing is, Dick­en­son might not be wrong. Peo­ple do get tired of see­ing the same teams at the end of the year all the time, whether it’s the Stamps of to­day or the Mon­treal Alou­ettes, who went 3-5 in the Grey Cup in the decade that ended in 2009.

The Stamps aren’t quite at that level of in­evitabil­ity yet, but even if the coach is walk­ing back the us-against-the-world line, his play­ers don’t seem to mind it.

Quar­ter­back Bo Levi Mitchell wasn’t shy about talk­ing the Stam­ped­ers up as the best team in the CFL on Wed­nes­day, not­ing that all they have to do this year is do what they did last year, ex­cept for three plays — a fum­ble, an in­ter­cep­tion, and a 100-yard Toronto touch­down — that swung the re­sult.

“We won the Grey Cup last year, ex­cept for three plays,” Mitchell said.

Side note: Those plays also counted.

Wide­out DaVaris Daniels said if no one wants to see the Stam­ped­ers again, they must be do­ing some­thing right.

“Any time you are dis­liked, it’s ob­vi­ously for some good rea­son,” he said. “Whether the ha­tred comes from see­ing us too often or they just hate us to hate us, it fires us up, and we usu­ally play bet­ter when we have that kind of a sit­u­a­tion.”

Not that he thought Cal­gary needs any ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion.

“We al­ready have enough chips on our shoul­ders. We lost the last two Grey Cups,” he said.

And that goes to the ques­tion that the re­sult on Sun­day will go a long way to­ward an­swer­ing: If fans are tired of watch­ing the Stamps, is it be­cause they are dom­i­nant, or be­cause they look to be dom­i­nant be­fore col­laps­ing at the ex­act wrong time? No­body likes fake dom­i­nance.

What­ever the case, it’s un­likely the Stam­ped­ers will be show­ered with love in the ti­tle game, played at the home of their ri­vals down the high­way.

Dick­en­son, asked on Wed­nes­day about what he ex­pected from the crowd at Com­mon­wealth Sta­dium, sounded sheep­ish again about bring­ing up the whole idea of the Stam­ped­ers be­ing unloved by the wider CFL. (For a guy pro­claim­ing him­self a Cana­dian in re­sponse to the swear­ing con­tro­versy, he is cer­tainly nail­ing the over-apol­ogy part of it.)

“Why I’d go into that, I have no idea, es­pe­cially when I have no con­trol over it,” the coach said of the pos­si­ble crowd re­sponse.

But he said he could see it go­ing ei­ther way on Sun­day.

“We’re pre­pared for crowd noise for and against us. We’ve played in a lot of op­pos­ing sta­di­ums,” he said. “Who knows? Let peo­ple make that de­ci­sion.”

I sus­pect that de­ci­sion has largely been made.

Whether the ha­tred comes from see­ing us too often or they just hate us to hate us, it fires us up, and we usu­ally play bet­ter. DaVARIS DANIELS, Stamps re­ceiver

JONATHAN HAY­WARD/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers coach Dave Dick­en­son says he re­grets say­ing CFL fans “en­joy see­ing us fail.”

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