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Despite the buzz, players staying focused on Grey Cup

Ben Fisher, TSN.ca Staff

11/22/2012 7:01:42 PM

Despite the heightened media commitments and general buzz and excitement surrounding the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto, players on both teams insisted they aren't losing focus leading up to the big game.

"As a player, I don't watch the news, I don't really read the paper so I'm not hearing about all the stuff that's going on," said Toronto Argonauts veteran quarterback Ricky Ray, who will play in his fourth Grey Cup on Sunday. "I'm just focusing on what we're doing so you don't really feel the buzz. You're just along for the ride and doing what you need to be doing."

On the other side of the ball, veteran slotback Nik Lewis of the Calgary Stampeders was more succinct.

"We step out on the practice field and in meetings, we're focused on what we need to do."

This week's festivities are huge for fans. Being the 100th edition of the Grey Cup, the celebrations in Toronto are sure to be memorable, but the competing players all agreed they've come too far to take their eyes off the prize now.

"At this point and time, we can't have any distractions. We have to be locked in," Argos rookie receiver Dontrelle Inman said.

"This is the stretch drive," he continued. "Now we can just focus on playing football, focus on Sunday."

Players aren't naïve to the situation; they know Sunday is a big game with big implications. But they also know that at the end of the day, it's still just lining up and trying to beat your opponent.

"There's no shift in focus. It's another football game, it's just the Grey Cup," Argonauts linebacker and former Stampeder Brandon Isaac said. "It's big because it's the Grey Cup and we're thankful that we're here, but what's going to change? X's and O's aren't going to change, their personnel isn't going to change, how they're going to attack us isn't going to change, so we just have to come out and understand it's just a football game."

"I know there are a lot of emotions that are going to be behind it because it's a big football game, but football is football, regardless of the stage."

"I try and just stick to the same things. I try and do the same things every week," Ray echoed. "As long as I stick to that routine, I feel I'm prepared and ready to go, so I'll just try and stick to those things."

Many veterans said they make it their duty to ensure everyone on the team remains focused on the goal. Stampeders middle linebacker Juwan Simpson, likely to start on Sunday after practicing Thursday, shared some interesting motivation he has brought up with teammates this week.

"First off, you talk about the pay day that a lot of these guys are going to get," Simpson said.

"You'd be a fool to think that everybody out here doesn't care about the money – let's just be honest, they do. Just let them know this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There are guys that I played with in 2008 (Calgary's last appearance in the Grey Cup) that aren't in the CFL anymore. This could possibly be your last chance, no matter how good you are."

The Stampeders and Argonauts face off in the 100th Grey Cup on Sunday. Coverage begins at 1pm et/10am pt on TSN.