The CFL’s reigning Most Outstanding Player wants to silence Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans early in Thursday night’s 2021 regular season opener.
“They got one of the best fanbases in the CFL, so it’s going to be a tough atmosphere to get out there and execute,” said Brandon Banks in a videoconference. “Hopefully we can go out there and shut them up real quick so they don’t be as loud on offence.”
Winnipeg has received approval to host a capacity crowd of almost 33,000 fully-vaccinated fans at IG Field for the team’s home opener. The club has yet to provide an update regarding ticket sales, but it’s expected that the game will be close to a sellout.
It’s been a long time since the Blue Bombers upset Hamilton in the 2019 Grey Cup, but Banks still plans to use the loss as motivation on Thursday.
“I think some of the guys that was there in the past probably use it as a little bit of motivation, but obviously we try to put that in the past. It’s a new year, new team, new opportunity,” said Banks. “Some people use it as a chip on their shoulder, some people don’t. Obviously with me being the competitor I am, I’m going to use it as a chip on my shoulder.”
The five-foot-seven, 150-pound receiver had a sensational season in 2019, recording 112 receptions for 1,550 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also returned two missed field goals for touchdowns, improving his career return touchdown total to 13.
“I’m definitely excited,” said Banks regarding the league’s long layoff. “It’s been a long time — a year-and-a-half off without playing a real game. Obviously our last taste of a real game didn’t go our way, so I’m very anxious to get back out there, especially against the last opponent that we played.”
The 33-year-old is proud to be part of a deep Tiger-Cats’ receiving corps that features impact players such as himself, Bralon Addison, DeVier Posey, and Jaelon Acklin. He’s confident the offence will be potent, but suspects the lack of a preseason may lead to some growing pains.
“We’ve got a lot of talent in the receiving room. We’ve got a lot of guys that can actually make a play — catch the ball at five yards and probably go to the house. I’m excited about that and can’t wait to see what them guys do and help us get over the hump this year,” said Banks.
“I think we’re going to get a slow start. Hopefully we get a fast start so we can covert it into a win, but it’s going to be hard. It’s going to take some time for the offence to get clicking.”
Addison said it would be “sweet” to spoil Winnipeg unveiling their Grey Cup banner before Thursday’s game. Though he plans to use the ceremony for extra motivation, Banks takes no issue with the Blue Bombers celebrating their championship on Thursday.
“They deserve that. That was a good team in 2019,” said Banks. “That’s what they deserve. They earned that.”