STAMPS NOT FEELING THE LOVE
Coach tries to walk back comments, but are fans tired of seeing Calgary in Grey Cup?
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
Calgary Stampeders coach Dave Dickenson says he regrets saying CFL fans “enjoy seeing us fail.”