The Rider Nation has a bit of a reputation over in Edmonton – for trash talking, and for filling other people’s stadiums half full with the visiting team’s fans.
To the players, these are some of the things that make fans of the green and white great. It’s also why receiver Shamawd Chambers isn’t worried about going back to Commonwealth Stadium for Friday night’s game.
“I’m not really worried about the boos, that’s going to happen.” Chambers said, when asked about what it would be like to go back to his old stomping grounds. “I promise you coming to Mosaic for the last three years and having the fans right on your back booing you and talking directly to you – it’s way worse than going to Commonwealth.”
There’s also the matter of head coach Chris Jones and almost his entire coaching staff leaving the Eskimos for the Riders just days after winning the Grey Cup. They’ve returned once before to Edmonton in the preseason, but this game is the first of three that will count towards the standings, so there’s a bit more on the line.
Much is being made in Edmonton about the return, but Jones himself isn’t buying the hype.
“They’re pro football players, what are they going to play 110 percent because I’m going back to Edmonton? They don’t care,” Jones said on Wednesday. “Half of them probably don’t know I was in Edmonton last year. It’s a deal where we got to make sure we’re ready to play and play fast.”
Winning, far more than any possible grudges, cheers, or welcomes, is what the team is focusing on according to Kendial Lawrence, who moved with the coaches to Saskatchewan in the off season.
“Guys get traded every year, guys get traded weekly. Guys go to different places and the old home team, they can not like it as much and the new home team can like it. It’s just a part of the game,” Lawrence said.
But Lawrence, as well as teammate Otha Foster, who also joined the Riders from the Eskimos said Friday’s game will be more fun than rivalry.
“It can bring a lot of emotions to the game because we’ve been there previously,” Foster admitted. “To me it’s just going to be exciting I’m ready to get out there and play against those guys I never got to play offence against.”
“It will be fun to go up against them,” he added. “Most of them are real close friends and brothers of mine. We achieved something that I’ll never forget.”
They may be friends, but that hasn’t stopped the trash talk ahead of the game with former Roughrider and current Eskmio Odell Willis leading the charge.
“O always talks trash,” Lawrence said with a laugh. “O’s talking trash daily on Snapchat. So I’m used to that … it’s all fun and games but when we get on the field we know what time it is.”
Time to win
“We’re going to try to take those guys off, being they are the previous champions. We’re going to do whatever we can,” Lawrence said.
The Roughriders and Eskimos square off at 8 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium. You can watch the game on TSN, and tune into CJME and CKOM’s 10 hour game day coverage starting at 4 p.m.