CALGARY — Eddie Davis may be a Saskatchewan Roughrider but he considers Sunday’s Grey Cup in Calgary to be a home game.
Although he has played for the Riders for the past nine seasons, Davis resides in Calgary with his wife Debbie and their two children.
“I always have good games when I’m playing in this stadium,” said Davis, who played for the Calgary Stampeders from 1996 to 2000 before signing as a free agent with the Riders in March of 2001. “I just enjoy playing here. This is home for me.”
Having won a Grey Cup with the Stamps in 1998 and another with the Riders in 2007, Davis said he’s now going for the “trifecta” against the Montreal Alouettes in the 97th Grey Cup at McMahon Stadium.
“I know we’ve got a tough task ahead of us,” said Davis, who’s from St. Louis. “If we play together like we’ve been playing together all year long, I think we can prevail.”
With 15 years of experience as a defensive back in the Canadian Football League, Davis has a big role to play as a leader with the Riders, said Saskatchewan defensive backs coach Nelson Martin.
“There’s not very much an offence can do that he hasn’t seen,” Martin said. “He’s like a coach on the field and as his coach, I think he’s taught me more than I’ve taught him.”
Cornerback Omarr Morgan said playing alongside Davis is like having another coach out on the field.
“He knows just about everything about football that you can possibly know,” Morgan said. “He’s always telling me what he thinks coming up, what he things I should do on this play or what he’s going to do. He pretty much knows what the offence is going to do before they do it, so it definitely makes the game easy.”
For the Riders to have success against the Als, Davis said the Saskatchewan defence will have to put pressure on Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo.
“We’ve got to hit Calvillo,” Davis said. “You’ve got to give him different looks to try to confuse him some type of way, because he doesn’t make many mistakes, if any at all.”
Meanwhile, Saskatchewan’s secondary will have to be wary of Montreal’s talented receivers, especially Ben Cahoon and Jamel Richardson.
“They move their guys around so much that we really don’t know who we’re going to see,” Davis said. “It could be Cahoon, it could be Richardson. I’ll probably see a different guy every play.”
Now in the twilight of his career, Davis said he’s soaking in the atmosphere in his adopted hometown this week leading up to Sunday’s kickoff.
“I’ve been savouring this whole thing, just being out here, being with the guys and enjoying this camaraderie,” he said. “This is something that I’m going to have memories of for the next 50 years of my life, just remembering these days.”
A free agent after this year, Davis will wait until the off-season to decide whether he’ll return for a 16th CFL season.
“Right now I’m playing, but things can change once this game is over and once the off-season comes,” said Davis, who admitted it’s tough to be away from his family for long stretches of time during football season.
“They’re here in Calgary and I’m out in Regina and my kids are growing. I haven’t had a chance to go on a summer vacation with my family ever. Just being able to experience those things would be something that would be great for me.”
When Davis decides to hang up his cleats and retire, Martin said somebody will move in to take the 36-year-old veteran’s place, but that he won’t be replaced.
“The things he brings to the table are intangible,” Martin said. “Somebody will fill in, but you can’t replace what Eddie Davis brings to the table. He’s a true professional and the leadership that he brings is just not on the field, but off the field as well. He’s really brought around a couple of the younger players and it’s a beautiful thing to watch.”
For now, Davis is looking forward to hitting the field on Sunday in front of a packed house of Saskatchewan supporters at McMahon.
“I know there’s a lot of Saskatchewan fans here in Calgary, so hopefully they come out in full force,” said Davis, who joked that he’d love to join Rider fans in their tradition of turning watermelons into headgear. “I’ve got to go get me one and put one on my head and wear it as a helmet out there.”