Five-a-side rowers share tips with Edmonton’s current crop of elk

Talk about setting the bar incredibly high.

As impressive as it is to have a franchise history crowned with five straight Gray Cup championships, it makes comparisons a challenge for all other editions of the Edmonton Elks roster to come.

Especially at a time when everything is put under a microscope with the team floundering at the bottom of the Western Division standings, as they are right now.

With a trio of former players set to be inducted into the Commonwealth Stadium Wall of Honor at halftime of Saturday’s game (8 p.m., TSN, ESPN+, 630 CHED) against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, it can be difficult to separate the glory days from the bloody present.

“There’s a rich tradition here and the last thing we should do with this whole game is try to put pressure on the current team,” said former double-E running back Jim Germany, who will part of the ceremony alongside his former teammates. , defensive backs Ed Jones and Joe Hollimon. “They have to set their own bar.

“And sometimes it’s unfair because that’s how they will be judged. But if they were smart, maybe if they heard this interview, what you would do is read the history book and remember that there is a rich tradition here. So, following that tradition, you just have to strive to be the best player in that position. And if everyone is striving like that, then all of a sudden you have a great team like we were.

Of course, those teams from 40 years ago were never in a position where they lost their last 11 consecutive games at home, like the current team.

Or have been beaten in their last 13 games against divisional opponents, like this one.

And I didn’t have to imagine what it was like to play in front of a crowded Commonwealth stadium with over 50,000 spectators, because it happened then, unlike the 11,500 spectators the Elks played in front of the last time the Roughriders were in town.

It is the farthest the club have ever been from these five games in a row.

“It’s hard to imagine,” said center David Beard, the oldest current member of the Elks locker room after being drafted in the second round (16th overall) en route to winning the 2015 Gray Cup. – taste of this in 2015 was a very, very special moment in my career. Something I want to come back to as soon as possible.

“So, yeah, I can’t even begin to understand what it would have been like to be five in a row and I wish I could see that happen for this community and be a part of it.”

In hindsight, back-to-back wins might have made it look easy, but nothing was guaranteed all the time.

“No, absolutely not,” Beard said. “You look at any defending champion from any year and they talk about 1-0. They talk about how the past is behind us, that was something we celebrated before and now we have to win it again.

“There’s nothing to hang your hat on, it’s something you have to prove every time you step onto the pitch.”

If the good times don’t last forever, the bad times don’t either.

“You know what? They’ve won two and it’s almost the middle of the season,” Hollimon said. I played with Ed Jones for eight and a half years. I played with Larry Highbaugh for eight years. I played with (Dan) Kepley for seven, eight years. I played with Dave Fennell until he retired, Dave Boon, I played with Ron Estay They were mainstays of our team Jim Germany had an eight year career Warren Moon he was here five years and he played three I played with Tom Wilkinson, Brian Kelly, all this time we were teammates.

“So we had camaraderie and family ties. That’s the kind of stuff we’ve had and right now I hear the Elks have had 89 new players since training camp. It’s hard to get to know the guy next to you in a situation like this.

“I understand the coaches, from their point of view. I know someone else is free and you think they’re better than the person you have. Every once in a while it might be good to give this guy a second chance, because you brought him here for a reason, to begin with. Right?”

While the amount of crowds changed on match day, it was the quality that stood out in the minds of these five rowers.

“You always need motivation. But I remember when we played, that place was so loud,” Germany said. “And for me, they motivated me to play because I had a sparkle in my eye when they said you were playing for Edmonton and I felt like I was representing the city because they were hardworking. fierce, did not complain, did not speak. And they would just go out and kick ass and let people take names after.

“Do a good job and it will show.”

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