The curtain has closed on their 2019 season and all that’s left now for the Edmonton Eskimos is to see how the final act unfolds in Sunday’s Grey Cup final in Calgary.
With the wound still fresh from a 36-16 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Sunday’s East Division final, the mood at Commonwealth Stadium while locker stalls were being cleaned out Monday seemed decidedly split over whether to tune in, turn out or simply turn it off.
“Yeah, of course I watch it,” said Eskimos general manager Brock Sunderland. “I’m a fan still and I love the game and I love this league so of course you watch it.
“I’ve personally been to four. It’s difficult when you get close to where you think you have a chance, which we did.”
Just don’t expect to see him in the stands at McMahon Stadium, although he will be on hand for Grey Cup Week in strictly a business capacity.
“I won’t watch it live,” he added. “I know a lot of times you go down for GM meetings and I don’t think any of the GMs, except for the two that are in it, stay. You don’t want to be in that environment if you’re not playing for it.
“Especially if you’ve been there before.”
Eskimos head coach Jason Maas will be tuning in, just don’t ask him to pick a favourite between Hamilton and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
“To be honest with you this year watching the Grey Cup, I have a vested interest in it,” said Maas, who has a history working with both head coaches. “You know, two of my great friends in the league, Mike (O’Shea of Winnipeg) and Orlondo (Steinauer of Hamilton) are in it. I wish it could end in a tie but I know it won’t.
“But I’ve probably never been more excited to watch someone else play the Grey Cup than I will be this year. I’ll definitely be very attentive to it, I think they’re both great teams, they both had great regular seasons. We played them both and they’re both tremendous.”
The Eskimos found themselves on the losing end of two games apiece against both Hamilton and Winnipeg this year.
“But the guys both teams are led by are Class A,” Maas said. “I mean, that’s as good as you get in the CFL. I’ve got nothing but the utmost respect for both of them. I love both of them, they’re just great people and great individuals with great families.
“So I’m thankful that if two (other) guys had to be in it, I’m definitely rooting for both of them, I hope they have great games.”
Calvin McCarty, the elder statesman of an Eskimos locker-room where he spent all 13 of his CFL seasons – and counting – is on the fence when it comes to watching the Grey Cup.
“Sometimes and sometimes not,” he said. “Last year, no, because obviously it was here in our backyard. And to not even give our city a chance to make it, you know, you feel bad and I didn’t want to watch it.
“And having Calgary here was a big thing and one of my big motivations was to be able to go down there and possibly spray some champagne in their locker-room. But even when we went to the east, I knew we weren’t going to be in their locker room if we made it, we’d be on the other side, but still.”
For those keeping score, so far, that’s one sooner or later, one definite yes and one maybe.
Of course, there are some definitely nots on the list too, such as Ricky Collins Jr., whose first year in Edmonton was a break-out season that saw him reach the 1,000-yard club in receiving yards for the first time in his career.
“Probably not. No, probably not,” he said of watching Sunday’s final. “Just probably be doing something with my kids.”
Quarterback Trevor Harris wouldn’t miss it.
“Oh, yeah. I watch every snap of every game if I can, as long as I’m not on a flight,” he said. “I love watching CFL football, I love this league and I’m sure it will be a good game Sunday.”
The always outspoken Vontae Diggs is also curious to see how his inaugural season of pro football finishes.
“I’ve got people on both teams, so I do want to see how this plays out,” said the Eskimos nominee for most outstanding rookie. “But whether I’m going to watch it live? Probably, yeah.
“Will I be cussing a lot of people out at that time? Probably. Am I going to be pretty pissed off watching that game? Absolutely. Until I get to the Grey Cup (as a player), I’m going to be pissed.”
On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge
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