18
Nov

96th Grey Cup a Marquee matchup

Courtesy Calgary Herald:

Don’t give the jealous protestations of the coffee-house habitues supping their no-whip double-shot caramel macchiatos (pinkies up!) on Granville Island or the northern mall-rats loitering around the entrance to Fantasyland another thought.

Buck up, Vancouver.

Get over it, Edmonton.

What we await is indisputably the most compelling Grey Cup matchup possible for 2008.

Sure, sure, the prospect of an Alberta-only championship would have knocked ‘em dead had the big tilt been scheduled for McMahon or Commonwealth stadiums. But face the fact, as a headlining act it would have been absolutely lost, buried alive, in the cosmopolitan bustle of Montreal. Particularly given that this happens to be Patrick Roy jersey-retirement weekend.

Stamps-Eskies, however mouth-watering hereabouts, is strictly a provincial Grey Cup, in more ways than one.

B.C.-Edmonton? Nope. Another regional showcase. The Cup has forever and a day been advertised as a sporting celebration of this vast nation. A confrontation between East and West. Not West and Further West.

All agreed, then, that from a promotional and visibility standpoint, having the home team on board is striking the motherlode for commissioner Marc Cohon and his idea-

makers down at league HQ. Without the Als, this is just a football game; with them involved, it shapes up to be a doozy of a party in a city that certainly knows how.

Montreal-Edmonton, then? Mmmmm, OK, there’s certainly a rich history involved. It’d be a bit sexy for us geriatrics who recall with nostalgic fondness the salad days of Warren Moon and Dan Kepley, Junior Ah You and Sonny Wade; or for those who backtrack even further, to Sam (The Rifle) Etcheverry and (Prince) Hal Patterson, Jackie Parker and Johnny Bright.

But, hey, that particular fight is a case of been there, done that. Often. Too often, lately. The Als and Esks, remember, clashed in four Grey Cups between 2002 and 2005. Injecting a bit of a different slant is never a bad thing.

There’s a novelty about the Stamps and Als that provides Sunday with a certain measure of vitality; these organizations haven’t butted helmets for the title since 1970, or two years before Anthony Calvillo was born in Los Angeles.

The allure of the game in front of us goes beyond mere geography and historical perspectives, though. It’s one versus two, in virtually all major seasonal statistical rankings: points scored, points allowed, touchdowns, first downs, total yards, yards per game.

Pick a category, most any category.

This shapes up as a war between the league’s divisional champions — and the remaining candidates vying for Most Outstanding Player. On one side, Calgary quarterback Henry Burris, aiming to once and for all prove that a gag-

reflex doesn’t automatically kick in after Halloween. Up against Montreal pivot Anthony Calvillo, looking to end one of the most emotionally-uplifting yarns of recent memory with a real page-turner of a final chapter. Calvillo missed the end of last season to be with his wife, who was battling cancer. She’s now cancer-free.

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