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Thread: Best Game Experience Ever/Once An Eskimo

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    Event Best Game Experience Ever/Once An Eskimo

    Best Game Experience Ever/Once An Eskimo

    Sorry for the length of this post. Myself, can’t be bother to read the self-indulgent long posts of others. Apparently, I’m a hypocrite.

    Attended the August 10th Redblack/Eskimo Game, at TD Place here in Ottawa. Probably the best game experience I have ever had! Lots of reasons for this; jersey I was wearing, following the game closely, texting fellow fan friend and being logged into this site, other Esk fans at the game, players after the game and - an amazing surprise encounter after the game. Oh, yes, and despite a bazillion players out with injuries - the Esks won.

    Understand that Eskimo fans like me, who do not live within a distance convenient for them to Commonwealth Stadium, may have only infrequent or rare opportunities to see the team play. For me, now, I see the Esks once a year in Ottawa; last year twice due to bizarre CFL playoff cross-over structure and, hopefully, twice this year due to Ottawa Stadium hosting Grey Cup (“fingers crossed”). Going to an Eskimo game, actually being close to the team and players – can be a BIG deal for those Esk fans not living in Edmonton.

    Had a primo seat. A season ticket holder with the Redblacks, for this annual Edmonton game I gave up my two seats up in the near nosebleed west goal line section of the rougher North Grandstand for a single seat in the more gentile South Grandstand 16 rows up behind the Eskimo Bench. Not “my first rodeo”, as after a few years of attending games here in Ottawa I now know the game routine, rhythm, fans and stadium a fair bit better.

    IMG_2190-2.jpg

    Suited up, and prepped, for the game. Wore my signed Moon1 jersey, which I obtained several years back through the generosity of Mick P (Lethbridge) on this site, along with a period appropriate hat obtained on line. Took a copy of the EE Game Depth Chart, as posted on this site by Section N (thank you).

    img 222.jpg

    Very focused on the game, the plays, and the players. Throughout was texting Mick who was tuned into the game, and participating in the ongoing game discussion on this site. This is totally different from the other Redblack games that I attend. Then I usually do not care who wins or loses. Then it is have a beer or two, and chat about most everything with my game guest or other attendees.

    Eskimos off to a great start first quarter. That really helped me get into it. Stayed “glued to seat” until end of second quarter.

    Walkabout through the stadium at halftime, attempting to ensure that as many fans as possible saw the Moon jersey. This was not for me. Rather, it was to keep alive the iconic memory of Warren Moon and the glory of the Edmonton Eskimos.

    Other Eskie fans! 23,000 plus folks attending the game, I’m guessing Eskimo fans were probably outnumbered by say … maybe 300 to one. Still, there they were highly visible and enthusiastic. In addition to a smattering of green and gold Eskie gear, and someone with an EE flag, saw other jerseys; Reilly, Ray, Highbaugh, Germany, Howard and one other Moon. Also saw a number “2” jersey on a “younger” fan, which I imagine was probably meant to remember Fed Stamps (suppose it could have been Damon Allen or The Giz, though). Regret not being more outgoing and saying hello to more Eskimo fans, but if they did not make or sustain eye contact I did not push it.

    The Esks won!!! They shoulda, coulda maybe oughta woulda blown out the Redblacks. The EE seemed to be peeing away the game as they gave up a solid early lead. But as per usual this season, they regrouped, dug deep and found a way to win. Impressed by O’Neill’s punting/kicking. And Mike Reilly, what can one say? Always really liked him, even when he was backup in BC. He can pass, can run, has brains and guts. My next jersey might be number “15” ! (well … in all honesty kinda leaning towards either Highbaugh or Maas, and – does anyone ever wear a Jackie Parker … but, of course, would never willingly ditch the Moon jersey - but I digress even more). No idea how we obtained Reilly from the Lions, but Ed Hervey definitely deserves at least the Key to the City.

    After the game, I usually leave asap. This time I lingered to savour the experience. The unhappy crowd soon thinned, and I noticed a small cluster of delighted Eskimo fans. They were leaning around a field exit … which the Eskimos were using. I slowly walked down towards them, and noticed that of course the other fans were talking with players, getting autographs, high fiving, etc. I would think that normally one could not get so close to the team, but here with so few Esk fans…. Finally walked up to the railing, and there maybe three feet away within reach just down in front of me was Mike Reilly signing autographs. I hurriedly fumbled with my antiquated phone/camera, got it ready to shoot and looked up just as he was walking away. Argh…. Reminded me of the time on an Air Canada flight from Toronto to Edmonton, the Oilers were on the plane that I was taking home – and - now had/have nothing to show for walking down the aisle between Gretzky seated across from Semenko.

    Walking the short distance home, I felt a bit elated. Could have been the sugar or caffeine in the pepsi that I had in place of the usual beer. But … it was the win, and the other Eskimo fans. AND – the best was yet to come!

    A male voice behind me said “I can tell you something about that jersey”. Slowing my stride, the person behind walked along side. It was a tall darker man, a bit younger than me. He told me that Moon’s jersey number had never been used by any other player since Moon, though the numbers of all other players had. Had never really thought about it, I had assumed that the number had been retired. The gentleman said that it wasn’t. In fact, he said that the Eskimos had reused pretty much all the iconic Eskimo players numbers except Moon’s. An example he gave was that just that night number “70” (which used to be Brian Kelly’s) had been worn by the kicker (O’Neill).

    The gentleman told me that he used to play for the Eskimos, and showed me the Grey Cup ring he was wearing. He said his name was Stephen Jones, and that he played for the Esks in the late 80s. Ashamedly, though I recognized many of the names he mentioned, I did not remember him. So embarrassed by this. Although I never thought to tell him, I probably did not remember as from 1986 to 1990 I lived in the US where at that time one did not hear much about Canadian Football. He told me that Moon left Edmonton just before he (Jones) joined the team. He said his QB was Dunigan, and that Brain Kelly had taught him “everything”. We soon parted in different directions, but for me it was an amazing encounter and a perfect end to a great evening.

    Looking up Stephen Jones on Wikipedia, afterwards and … wow.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephe...dian_football)

    As player
    1985
    Saskatchewan Roughriders
    1986–1989
    Edmonton Eskimos
    1990–1994
    Ottawa Rough Riders
    Career highlights and awards
    • Grey Cup champion (1987)
    CFL All-Star 1990, 1992
    CFL East All-Star 1990, 1992, 1993

    Stephen Jones was clearly very proud and fond of his years in Edmonton. I remembered what I’ve read on this site, “once and Eskimo, always an Eskimo”. It was a huge honour, and gift, for me to have even briefly met him. Wish I had had the sense to ask way more questions.

    Managed to shoot two pictures with my outdated phone, though. On the street, in the dark, only one turned out and it is out of focus. I don’t have a pic of Gretzky, or Semenko, or Reilly … but I do have an out of focus poor quality pic of the great Stephen Jones. Thank you, sir.

    IMG_2194-2.jpg
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    Last edited by Moon1; 08-12-2017 at 01:46 AM.

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    Re: Best Game Experience Ever/Once An Eskimo

    Nice Story. I believe Stephen Jones caught a last play long bomb touchdown pass from Matt Dunigan to win a game against the Stampeders in Calgary.

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    Re: Best Game Experience Ever/Once An Eskimo

    Thanks for sharing your evening with us all Moon1. Awesome details - so happy they got the win considering you rarely get a chance to see the EE. I love it when a former player (especially American born) embraces his time in the CFL. Stephen was a very versatile player if my memory serves me correctly. Definitely the type of player suited for playing up in Canada. What an super finish to a great night!
    “Hope at the end of the day connects us all, no matter how different we are" - Markéta Irglová

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    Re: Best Game Experience Ever/Once An Eskimo

    Amazing story. Thanks for sharing with us. Just off the top of my head here, I remember Jones as being very quick. Ran back kicks for us also if I remember correctly.

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    Re: Best Game Experience Ever/Once An Eskimo

    Great post Moon1. Img 222 seems to indicate you still have your own teeth and way more hair than me(teeth too).
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    Re: Best Game Experience Ever/Once An Eskimo

    Steph and Craig Ellis remain great friends and speak often
    I hit them as hard as I could on the mouth right from the start of the game so they were thinking this was going to be a long day. Sooner or later one of us had to quit. And it wasn't going to be me.
    - Dan Kepley

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    Re: Best Game Experience Ever/Once An Eskimo

    Best post I have ever read!

    Thank you...

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    Re: Best Game Experience Ever/Once An Eskimo

    Great story man.
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    Re: Best Game Experience Ever/Once An Eskimo

    Stephen Jones was the real deal. Glad to hear he's doing well there in the Capital City!

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    Re: Best Game Experience Ever/Once An Eskimo

    Quote Originally Posted by Esks1975 View Post
    Nice Story. I believe Stephen Jones caught a last play long bomb touchdown pass from Matt Dunigan to win a game against the Stampeders in Calgary.
    Yup...have that game on tape somewhere. First game of 1986 I believe...

    Real question was what Calgary's defenders were doing on that play. Almost as bad as Stegall's TD.
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    Re: Best Game Experience Ever/Once An Eskimo

    Great post Ben! No worries about length when it is quality all the way!

    Yes, great when you attend an Esks away game and the Esks win. I was at the Esks Labour Day game last year at McHole, and it wasn't so good….

    Loved the Esks quick start against Ottawa. Although they lull at times (who doesn’t?), and deal with injuries (extraordinary, really!), they win, and it is awesome!

    Wonderful that fans get Highbaugh and Germany jerseys made and wear them proudly. Always great to hear about fans keeping the dynasty memory alive!

    I remember Stephen Jones very well. Of course, the Dunigan to Jones last play to beat Calgary is one of the most memorable finishes in Eskimo history, but I feel his contributions to the 1987 Western Final win against BC, in BC were significant, as well. The Eskimos went into that game an underdog against a fine Lions teams. But a long pass from Dunigan to Jones early on established the tone, and the Eskimos cruised quite easily past the Lions to get them to the Grey Cup, to which they won, in my opinion, the greatest Grey Cup game ever! A real team effort from every Eskimo player dressed that day.

    I am getting more and more excited to be attending the next Eskimo home game August 25, and against Saskatchewan, no less. I hope the Eskimos CRUSH them bad!! It would be a perfect game to win big!

    It will also mark the first time I will be walking into Commonwealth Stadium in 37 years!!! I am sure it will be emotional and memorable, for sure.

    Thanks for sharing your experience watching another awesome Eskimo win!
    Eric Tillman, the George W. Bush of the CFL.

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    Re: Best Game Experience Ever/Once An Eskimo

    This post should be archived.
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    Re: Best Game Experience Ever/Once An Eskimo

    Quote Originally Posted by Moon1 View Post

    Attended the August 10th Redblack/Eskimo Game, at TD Place here in Ottawa. Probably the best game experience I have ever had!
    That was a good game. Heck, post game, we must have been almost beside each other. I was getting Reilly to autograph my daughters Jersey.

    We should try to set up Eskimos watch parties in Ottawa.

    I think my best overall experience was the 86 Grey Cup in BC. I was in university and my parents got 4 tickets to the Grey Cup in BC. My friend and I drove all night after classes to get there. We were in the same hotel as the Esks. Attended the Spirits in Edmonton breakfast on game day. Once it was over people were taking down the hand painted signs along the wall, so we grabbed one also.

    The game was horrible and we got our butts handed to us by the Ti-cats. but it was still fun. After the game, my buddy and I took the poster and walked around the hotel getting Eskimos Players to sign it. Had my first conversation with Gizmo and could only make out about half of what he said.

    That post got framed and is hanging up in my family's restaurant in Northern Alberta.
    It's tough living in Ottawa but bleeding Green and Gold

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