Last November, the Toronto Argonauts travelled to Ottawa to play the Calgary Stampeders in the 2017 Grey Cup. The game was an instant classic, played before a packed house in snowy conditions with the Argonauts sealing a come-from-behind win with a last-second interception. But the big play in the game: a Grey Cup record 100-yard touchdown reception from Toronto’s DeVier Posey, part of a seven catch, 175-yard performance that earned him Grey Cup MVP honours.
As we get ready for the 2018 edition of the game, here is Posey’s Grey Cup story in his own words.
By DeVier Posey
2017 CFL champion and Grey Cup MVP
As some of my Toronto Argonaut teammates and I were leaving the CFL Awards Show during last year’s Grey Cup week in Ottawa, I saw a Nissan truck advertising their CFL partnership. Fellow receiver Jimmy Ralph goes, “That’s the MVP’s truck.” I said WORD!! That’s my car can’t wait to drive it home (my dumba$$ really believed him). In laughter, I plotted, but in reality, I knew an open mind to manifestations starts with visualizations and good vibrations, which increases the chances of the result you desire. I’m a firm believer in the Law of Attraction and the power of words.
But let’s start at the beginning.
We arrive in Ottawa. Just our luck upon the hotel arrival the elevators are out of service, so we had to take the stairs. Small problem, yes, did we complain? Umm, YES! We were used to this type of adversity. We faced this all season.
We could adapt to anything. It was a strong skill set for us that we sharpened starting camp at York University, then moving to Don Bosco mid-season all the while practising on four different turf fields around the GTA. We were equipped to play in any condition. So, we walked up the stairs, dropped our bags down and all had a WTF moment.
Yes, we complained. We sounded like an old woman with the wrong order at Tim Hortons.
Our first practice the next morning was very clean and focused. It was loud during plays, but quiet in between. This allowed for communication and execution. Keeping that focus resulted in a great practice. That night, I meditated on the future and the possibility of winning a Grey Cup. I wouldn’t call myself a fortune teller, but I love to manifest things into my life in that manner day and night. See the picture as clear as possible before you live it.
The Thursday of Grey Cup is the busiest day of the week. It involves family arrivals, media day, and the CFL awards show. Distraction is bound to set in. After my morning meditation, cardio, lift and stretch, I headed to the CFL breakfast and enjoyed media day in all its glamour. We practised hard that day just like day one. We adapted to a busy schedule and put together a solid practice. That night we paced ourselves to watch James Wilder win the Most Outstanding Rookie and DBL R (Ricky “The GOAT” Ray) lose MOP to Mike Reilly (a.k.a. Aaron Roethlisberger) at the CFL awards show.
Drawing NFL comparisons is all I can do based on my experiences. In saying that, I’ll be honest: Ricky Ray is the Tom Brady of the CFL. He’s the Goat and I’ll be on the red carpet for the Story of Ricky Ray’s lifetime movie. Love that dude, he’s easily the toughest teammate I’ve played with both mentally and physically.
“Aaron Roethlisberger” is a Reilly comparison I came up with my first year in the CFL. I’m watching film like man this guy is big as S#*$ and hard to bring down like Ben Roethlisberger. Then you watch him throw on the run and make late post and fade throws on his third read. Then he might take off on second and long to keep the chains moving reminding me of Aaron Rodgers, hence the term “Aaron Roethlisberger.” In all seriousness, he’s a great player and the future GOAT of this league.
On Friday, I felt good about our last practice in TD Place. It was a windy day and you could tell a storm was brewing both literally and figuratively. Post-practice for me was a typical day three; very quiet and family-oriented like two nights before the game should be. I remember being happy with my preparation. I felt as though I maximized each moment to the best of my ability and I could rest easy knowing whoever lined up across from me at the game was getting that work.
When we arrived at the stadium for a walkthrough on Saturday in our lockers were the ugliest pair of Doug Flutie 1997 Grey Cup edition turf shoes. With an ensuing snowstorm as a possibility, we all refused to wear those cleats. We’d been planning our Grey Cup swag for a week. No way would we let our equipment manager ruin our game day swag with these Bobo cleats! How dare you, Danny Webb, how dare you! Well, his insight served to be monumental.
Earlier that year, the Argos celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 1997 championship team. They passed out Doug Flutie bobbleheads with a picture of him winning the Cup in the snow, on turf, while wearing a pair of Bobos. I kept that bobblehead on top of my refrigerator all season. Fast Forward to the Grey Cup, Danny Webb swore his life away to the validity and necessity of these turf cleats. He promised that it was the difference maker in the 1997 Grey Cup. Yeah, yeah that’s definitely something an equipment manager would say. We’ve heard superstitious things from coaches and trainers like: “You scored because you drank out of my water bottle “or “Every time I hand the ref a football, we have a game-winning drive.” So, we silenced Danny Webb and his recommendations that day.
Like any other game day that season, Grey Cup morning started with meditation, light swimming, hip stretches, and muscle activation. I linked with some fellow receivers for breakfast. We laughed and enjoyed ourselves and couldn’t be happier at the clear weather and opportunity to play in this game. Waiting around all day, I napped prior to leaving the hotel. I remember this being my most powerful mediation of the week. I could feel something. That something where you know deep down you are having a big game today. I can’t tell you what play, but I’m making a play. Upon arrival, we heard whispers that the snow could hit right before kickoff. Personally, I still didn’t believe it, especially doing warm-ups on a clear field.
I don’t know what happened pregame while we were back in the locker room. I think the anthem singer was late or the cheerleading routines ran long. Either way, we were inside the locker room for an hour before team introductions. During that time span, the snowfall increased so much.
I was truly defeated upon entering the stadium. I could hear the voices in my head saying, “Wilder Show.” There is no way to pass the ball in these conditions. I was truly sad, all the practice prep and great execution gone down the drain due to poor field and weather conditions. Wow!
No matter what, we still had to find a way to win. Although, we started the game very slow and sluggish. We needed a play and so we answered. Backed up, Marc Trestman calls a double move. At the snap, I fall in the snow, so I say forget the double move and Ricky Ray throws a dime to me. The rest is history, racing 100 yards through the snow for a game-changing play my team needed.
“Go win that truck, lil’ bra,” S.J. Green says to me as we celebrated.
But at the half, the true Grey Cup hero emerges: Danny Webb. After a slippery first half he rolls out a bin of those 1997 turf cleats again. “Hey, I bet you’ll try them now.”
The look on our faces when we actually committed to wearing these shoes was pure joy. We knew if we had traction, we could execute our gameplan and move the ball offensively and control the line of scrimmage. Defensively, we were able to stop, break and change direction better which gave us the slight second-half advantage.
Going into the last drive before the Matt Black interception to clinch it, S.J. leaned over and told me “whatever happens I love you bro.” Man, I hope he knows I was wearing a wire that day and they heard all that soft stuff. Just kidding SJ, I love you too, bro. That love showed in our post-game interviews and hugging as we hoisted the Cup in snowy Ottawa that night.
But the true comedy ensued when I was named Grey Cup MVP. I was on the field like “Ummmm, someone point me in the direction of my truck.” Then all I heard were laughs like, “sorry sir, congrats but this isn’t the Super Bowl: no truck, no Disney hahahahaha.”
So, the Grey Cup MVP doesn’t win a truck, it’s a bonus check – although the truck served as a great motivating factor that week and during the game. Fortunately, my wife and I still took our son to Disney in January for a family vacation. In all seriousness life’s adversity prepares us for our destiny. All season, we went through what had to go through. These hard times created the ability to handle the Grey Cup week with extreme focus. The result was that we reached our goal no matter how ugly or beautiful it was.
What I learned that season was a complex lesson, but in hindsight its simple: suffering has a noble purpose. It’s the evolution of your personal consciousness. The longer you resist the more suffering you endure. When you accept suffering and let it shape you. You eventually become conscience and suffering can subside quickly. Truth is you need to say yes to suffering in order to transcend it.
I also learned this: when partying with the Grey Cup, don’t be intoxicated and grab it by the handle. It could possibly break.