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This article was published 26/11/2011 (1619 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
VANCOUVER -- It was much to-do about very little.
The handful of mostly incomprehensible tweets from Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive end Odell Willis that sent Grey Cup broadcaster TSN into a tizzy on Friday -- with a correspondent claiming the tweets had turned the Bombers' Grey Cup "upside down" and an analyst calling for Willis’s head -- had by Saturday returned to what they were in the first place, Grey Cup week noise.
The overwhelming majority of media on Saturday either ignored the Willis story entirely or made a brief mention of it. Bombers boss Paul LaPolice dismissed the whole thing as "no big deal" during his pre-game news conference, Willis’s teammates all rallied around him on Twitter and on the practice field, and Willis himself said the whole ridiculous exercise -- which, at worst, seemed to amount to him loosely suggesting he would have preferred to be home in Mississippi on Thursday -- was just him pining for a U.S. Thanksgiving dinner.
Charlie Roberts on a 3 a.m. pre-game bender this was not.
"This was the first time I’ve been away from my family for Thanksgiving since I was born," Willis said following a light Bombers walk-through on the field at BC Place Saturday afternoon in advance of Sunday’s 99th Grey Cup game between the Bombers and BC Lions.
"I miss my family, what can I say?"
LaPolice said he was confident Willis would back up his talk with some walk against the Lions.
"I don’t think it was a big deal," LaPolice said. "He’s very focused and very ready to play a game."
LaPolice also said with a laugh that it wasn’t the first time someone around him this season caused a stir with some tweets.
"As you guys have learned from my wife, right? You have to be careful about your tweets."
LaPolice’s wife, Tina, made some news earlier in the season when she playfully taunted Hamilton receiver Dave Stala on her Twitter account.
With the nonsense out of the way, the talk on Saturday focused on the historic relevance of Sunday’s clash between the Bombers and Lions.
"We’re due, we’re long overdue," said Bombers defensive tackle Doug Brown, who is attempting to win his first Grey Cup ring on Sunday in what is also the final game of an 11-year career. "This is about trying to put the shine back on a franchise that has won 10 Grey Cups but hasn’t won one in 20 years... What other team would a title mean more to than the city of Winnipeg? That’s why we’re out here."
Bombers QB Buck Pierce -- whose club is a seven-point underdog heading into today -- was asked to make the case for a Bombers victory over the Lions.
"I think this is a mentally tough football team," Pierce said. "All the adversity that has been thrown our way I think has really prepared us for this. We’ve had to go through more than most athletes ever go through. We lost a coach in the middle of the football season. We’ve been the underdogs since Day 1. We’ve fought and clawed to get our way here."
Pierce said he is at peace heading into the biggest moment of his professional career
"I’ll sleep well. I prepared well. I worked hard. I’m confident in my preparation and everything I’ve done to get here."
Bombers defensive back Jonathan Hefney, who has the unenviable task of covering Lions slotback Geroy Simon, sees the assignment as an opportunity.
"He catches everything thrown to him, unless I get my hands on the ball. He runs great routes. He’s a hall-of-famer, soon to be. So there’s really nothing I can tell you that everyone doesn’t already know.
"So I’m just going to go out and try and make a name against a hall of famer."