WINNIPEG — With five more sleeps until the big game, both of the Grey Cup combatants arrived in Winnipeg early Tuesday evening.
“We in Winnipeg, this is where we always wanted to be at the end of the season.” Edmonton Eskimos defensive end Odell Willis said.
The Eskimos were the first to touch down as they arrived to a throng of cameras on the tarmac. It’ll be a whirlwind week for the players as all the hoopla goes on around them. But they’ll still try and maintain a normal routine and treat it just like any other game.
“If you try to make it anything bigger than that, then you’re not going to play as well as you possibly can.” Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly said. “But the week leading up to it you understand what the stakes are and so you’re going to put a little bit more into it in terms of the preparation and getting ready and making sure you haven’t left any stone unturned.”
The Eskimos arrived for Grey Cup week riding a nine game win streak but it’ll take a tenth straight victory for the Eskies to reach their goal.
“We’re still not satisfied.” Cauchy Muamba said. “We want to go all the way. Our goal from training camp was to go all the way and we’re right there knocking on the door and we want to go all the way.”
“At the beginning of the season when we put our goals down on a sheet, it’s not to make it to the Grey Cup. It’s to win the Grey Cup.” Reilly said. “So even just going to the locker room and taking a few minutes to celebrate the win and then looking at each other and going we’re far from finished yet. We still got another game and it’s the biggest game of the year and it’s against a very good opponent.”
Their opponent on Sunday, the Ottawa RedBlacks are in the CFL’s title game in just their second year of existence, but they still have plenty of big game experience with quarterback Henry Burris appearing in his fourth Grey Cup game.
“The little advice I’ve given so far.” Burris said. “I told guys just to have a good time. Especially early on cause I mean pretty much what the guys have been doing up to this point it’s been very beneficial because they’ve been able bring their hardhat and their boots to the ballpark on game day.”
Basically have fun but not too much fun. After all it is a business trip.
“I think there’s a balance you can strike of being able to participate and see some things without being in full party mode where you can enjoy some of the festivities.” RedBlacks coach Rick Campbell said.
To make sure there’s no late night carousing teams have imposed curfews with RedBlacks players needing to be tucked in by eleven.
“I remember one year where I was with a team and they kinda…the whole curfew went out the window mentality I guess you could call it.” Burris said. “And we didn’t win that Grey Cup.”