Pain of losing a Grey Cup lingers with Tiger-Casts veteran Van Zeyl
HAMILTON — Some 48 hours later and the pain of losing a Grey Cup remains with Chris Van Zeyl, a feeling the veteran offensive lineman has never experienced.
During his acclaimed days as an Argo, Van Zeyl played in two championship games, but he was on the winning team both times, the first in 2012 and more recently in 2017.
In Van Zeyl’s first season in Black and Gold, he played for a Ticats team that never lost a home game, a team that would win a CFL-high 15 games during the regular season and advance to the Grey Cup by beating the Edmonton Eskimos.
Van Zeyl was named top offensive lineman in the CFL for the first time during his career, one of many individual honours the Ticats would earn.
“It hurts,’’ said Van Zeyl. “To make it as far as we did and not be successful in winning our objective, we’re still trying to come to terms with all the whys and all that. It’s tough. Then again, one team had to win, one team had to lose.”
When a team turns the ball over three times in the game’s opening quarter, it does not bode well and things did not, to say the least, go well for the Ticats, who were thumped 33-12 by Winnipeg in the biggest game of the year.
So good for the entire season, so bad when it mattered the most, the Ticats gathered for the final time at Tim Hortons Field knowing the 2019 team will not be the same as the inevitable off-season changes begin.
“It’s hard to express exactly how you feel,’’ said Van Zeyl, a class act who will be back in the Hammer for the 2020 season. “It’s gut-wrenching. You make it as far as you do and to not win. I haven’t experienced that.
“For me, it was pretty tough. I would imagine it’s pretty tough for a lot of guys to varying circumstances as far their contracts and the length of their careers. Fortunately for us we had an incredible season, perfect at home, we were 16-3 up until the Grey Cup. There were a lot of great things to talk about and reflect on. The only sad part for me right now other than losing the Grey Cup, obviously, is that these guys won’t be back next year and the locker room won’t be the same.
“That’s tough. Saying goodbye to a lot of these guys is tough and not knowing who you are saying goodbye to for the last time is tough. But that’s something you have to, unfortunately, deal with, every year.”
Van Zeyl hasn’t watched any replays of the Grey Cup on TV.
“I know how it went for myself,’’ he said. “I’m not making it a high priority. I don’t know if I’ll watch it or not.”
SURGERY FOR SPEEDY BANKS
The man known as Speedy B is hoping for a speedy recover as the CFL’s MOP requires surgery to repair a sports hernia injury.
Brandon Banks dropped the bombshell Tuesday, a day when the Ticats cleaned out their lockers for the final time as players bid farewell to a record-breaking season that all came crashing down in the Grey Cup when the underdog Winnipeg Blue Bombers imposed their will to earn the franchise their first title since 1990.
Banks is the league’s most explosive player who is no stranger to adversity, having broken his collarbone, among other personal obstacles he has overcome.
“I got tackled around my leg,’’ said Banks of recounting the moment in Calgary when the injury occurred. “It pretty well split. I thought it was my groin thinking I can stretch it and go back until I put my hand down my pants and felt a big knot.
“It’s pretty much a sports hernia. I’ll have to have surgery.”
Banks is hoping he can have the procedure in the next 48 hours.
“I’m hurting,’’ he said.
Banks flew back with the team.
According to what he’s been told, Banks expects to be inactive anywhere from six to eight weeks.
“I’ll be ready for training camp,’’ he added.
The Ticats have not a Grey Cup title since 1999, thus known as the team with the longest drought.
Banks was on the 2014 team when his punt return touchdown against Calgary was called back in the final minute on a penalty.
His quarterback was Zach Collaros, the same quarterback who lined up for Winnipeg at McMahon Stadium as the Blue Bombers ended their Cup drought.
“They (Blue Bombers) jumped on us pretty fast,’’ said Banks. “They were the better team and they deserved to win on that day. It’s hard to deal with because of what has happened in the past.
“I thought we had a good chance. Obviously it didn’t go that way and it’s time to go to work.”
SEMINOLE MOMENT FOR ARGOS
Just as one FSU running back parted ways with the Argos, the club ushered in the arrival of another tailback from the Seminoles program.
Whether Karlos Williams has the kind of impact James Wilder Jr. had in the latter’s rookie season in three-down football is a question better answered once the Argos begin to evaluate their depth in the backfield.
Williams, 26, was drafted in the fifth round by the Buffalo Bills in 2015.
Williams and Wilder Jr. were teammates at Florida State and each is a Florida native.
The Sun incorrectly stated Tuesday how Brandon Burks would soon be eligible for free agency when, in fact, the Argos and the tailback agreed to a two-year deal prior to the start of the 2019 season.
Clearly, though, the Argos, who are coming off back-to-back four-win seasons, are covering all their bases when it comes to the backfield and the running back position.
Work horses in the CFL are few and far between given the amount of injuries associated with an 18-game regular season, a fact of football life where acquiring quality depth is a must.