Want a Grey Cup? Just add a little Jermaine McElveen to your roster, and voila!
The big defensive tackle, who was traded to the Roughriders by the Tiger-Cats just before this year’s training camp, is playing in his fourth Grey Cup this weekend and will attempt to collect his third title.
“Oh yeah, man. The Grey Cup’s all I know,” the big Chicago native said with a laugh on Wednesday at the Yara Centre. “Got Mac? I’m gonna get you a Grey Cup.
“I know people have never been to any Grey Cups. For me to go to my fourth and have a chance at my third ring, that just shows to my hard work I put in in the off-season and the work I put in on the field with my teammates.”
Coincidentally, McElveen won his first Grey Cup in 2009 as a member of the Montreal Alouettes, thanks in large part to Saskatchewan putting 13 players on the field for the game’s penultimate play.
McElveen and the Alouettes proved they were worthy champions a year later when they beat the Roughriders again. McElveen signed with the Tiger-Cats as a free agent just before training camp in 2012 and then got traded to the Riders in May after one season in the Hammer.
Now he finds himself back in the big game for the fourth time in six seasons.
“I’ve just been fortunate to be on some good teams and then doing my part, doing my role,” McElveen said.
Perhaps, but McElveen obviously has traits that make him attractive to coaches. He wasn’t an every-game player for the Riders this season, sharing one of the defensive tackle spots with Tearrius George, but still posted 19 tackles and six sacks. He also had an interception in Sunday’s West final win over the Calgary Stampeders, bringing his career total to three. That’s pretty good for a defensive tackle.
“I need some more,” McElveen said, causing defensive back Dwight Anderson, who was listening nearby, to laugh out loud. “I had another one, and I dropped it. I feel I got the best hands on defence.”
Even though McElveen views himself as simply one piece of a large puzzle, he no doubt believes he possesses some of the traits he feels propel teams to the Grey Cup each year.
“You gotta be good and you gotta have some heart,” he said. “You gotta have what I call some dog in you. You gotta have some fight in you. That’s what separates players from one another — what they got inside of them.”
McElveen wasn’t happy that he had to share a starting spot, but it drove him and George to be at the top of their games all the time. He didn’t dress for the West semifinal win over B.C., two weeks ago, but he was forced into action when George suffered a knee injury in that contest.
“You can’t play bad this week because you might be down next week. It was a crazy situation,” he said. “But it’s crazy how everything works out. I’m starting the two biggest games of the season now, and I’m just gotta take it and run with it.”