Ed Gainey has set the bar to the highest rung — it’s Grey Cup or bust.
“We gotta get that ring,” Gainey said in an interview at Roughrider training camp. “I feel like if we don’t get the ring this year we’re falling short of our expectations.”
The Roughriders defensive back had a league-high 10 interceptions last season and was voted the team’s defensive player of the year. His talents will be a big part how successful the Riders hope to be this year and certainly his goal is to continue to awe people with his talent.
But as a veteran – as weird as that sounds to him at the young age of 27 – Gainey has also taken on the role of a mentor. Perhaps a role just as important as the one he plays on the field.
“I want to lift everyone who’s here up because at the end of the day we’re all one unit and if one guys is lacking that’s as strong as we are … I’m always there to lend a helping hand to guys and that’s just to help us get better. You can’t be selfish out here. It’s a team sport.”
Rookie defensive back Nick Marshall couldn’t say enough about how Gainey has helped him grow even in the few short weeks of camp
“He’s kind of taking me under his wing just showing me the ropes,” Marshall said.
“When I came here (the defensive backs) welcomed me with open arms … everybody is happy, they treat you like another family.”
The other reason Gainey looks to help the other defensive backs is he can remember what it was like to be a rookie.
“The years have gone by pretty quickly but I look at it like it was yesterday when I was in Montreal my rookie year telling myself, ‘I’m not going home, I’m not going home,’” he said. “It’s definitely a nice feeling to come out here and be a leader and have those guys look up to you and give you that respect.”
But Gainey said he still feels like his talent is getting shortchanged around the league. Last season when Alex Singleton – who had 123 tackles on the season – won the western division’s most outstanding defensive player, he tweeted his displeasure.
It’s just continued to motivate Gainey to get better and better.
“I want to build on what I did last year. I did a lot, honestly, I just feel like the league and my peers still haven’t given that respect so I’m low key still an underrated player. I don’t know how I would be, but at the end of the day, I still got a lot more to prove. I still got a chip on my shoulder and I’m going to make a lot of people bite their tongues.”
And he plans to do it on the road to winning the Grey Cup.
“I’m just looking to keep climbing to the top. I don’t want to peak. I don’t want to settle so I’m going to continue to work hard … and do better than I did last year.”
“It’s time to get that ring back over here and that cup back over here in Saskatchewan,” he said.
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