BHe has earned three CFL all-star nominations during his 10-year career and a reputation of being one of the league’s top cornerbacks.
But missing from Omarr Morgan’s football resume over his nine seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders is a Grey Cup championship ring. Ironically, the only year he didn’t suit up in Regina — Morgan signed as a free agent with the Edmonton Eskimos in ’07 before being released at season’s end — the green Riders captured the CFL title.
The 32-year-old native of Hollywood, Calif., will book his ticket to a first-ever Grey Cup appearance Sunday if the Roughriders defeat the Calgary Stampeders in the West Division final at Mosaic Stadium (TSN, 2 p.m.,).
This week, the veteran cornerback spoke about his desire to reach the Grey Cup when he addressed the matter in the team huddle after practice.
“He spoke about having to miss that Grey Cup,” said Riders head coach Ken Miller, “and how it’s so important to those who haven’t been a part of that experience to have the opportunity to win this week so they can share and live the experience of preparing for a championship game and the possibility of a Grey Cup.”
On Friday, Morgan said every time he steps on to the field he strives to be the best but was uncomfortable with the idea teammates want to win a Grey Cup just for him.
“They’re always talking about wanting to help me get a Grey Cup and hopefully they do,” Morgan said.
“But it’s just not for me, it’s for everybody.
“Honestly, I don’t think about 2007 . . . If we keep dwelling on 2007 and that’s all it comes down to, we might as well quit now and give Calgary the Western Conference championship.”
The Riders’ defence will be bolstered by the return of veteran defensive back Eddie Davis, who missed the club’s final two regular-season games due to injury. Davis has two Grey Cup rings (’98 with Calgary, ’07 with Saskatchewan) and wants to do everything he can so that players such as Morgan get to experience that thrill.
“When I got my first one in 1998 that was a great experience,” he said. “Getting it again a couple of years ago, getting that elation, that emotion back, I mean it’s unexplainable and I want everybody on this team to experience that.
“We’ve got some guys like Omarr Morgan who’s been playing for 10 years and hasn’t gone to the Grey Cup so I want him to experience that same emotion, that same feeling that you get from playing in and winning the Grey Cup.”
The Montreal Alouettes host the B.C. Lions in the East Division final Sunday (TSN, 11 a.m.,).
Morgan and the Riders have had Calgary’s number this season, posting a 2-0-1 head-to-head record. That included a 30-14 home win over the Stampeders the final week of the regular season that clinched Saskatchewan top spot in the West Division and home-field advantage in the conference final for the first time since 1976.
“We’re playing a team we haven’t beaten,” said Stampeders head coach/GM John Hufnagel.
“We have to play better football against this team and find ways to put the ball into the end zone when we’re down there, keep them out of the end zone and not give up big plays against them because that’s been our Achilles’ heel.”
Playing before their rabid fans certainly gives the Riders a definite home-field advantage. And with Sunday’s game being a sellout — 30,945 tickets were sold by Monday — Hufnagel acknowledges crowd noise will be a factor.
“Saskatchewan is a tough place to play,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun football game for both teams and the people that are in attendance.
“There’s not a lot of times where you’re going to have that type of electricity in a stadium. It’s going to be there Sunday.”