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Tuesday, December 1, 2015


EDMONTON - The Edmonton Eskimos returned home with the Grey Cup Monday in what the team and fans agreed was as much a celebration of excellence as an exorcism of a decade of mediocre football.

"Having been here my entire career ... those dark years were really personal for me, and we worked tirelessly at trying to make sure that we could deliver something that these fans deserve,'' said Eskimo general manager Ed Hervey.

Eskimo quarterback Mike Reilly agreed, as behind him fans took pictures of the slightly pockmarked cup as it sat on a table in the airport reception lounge.

"It's been 10 long years and we're just excited about having the opportunity to go and take that cup to our fans,'' said Reilly.

"We all did it together. They stuck with us through the dark times and that's what we had to go through to get to the bright times.''

The Eskimos brought home their 14th Grey Cup, landing before noon at the Edmonton International Airport in a plane decorated in CFL team logos.

They were greeted by green and gold clad fans, cheering, blowing horns and singing the team's fight song.

With players, their families and fans it was over 200 people in the waiting lounge.

The Eskimos defeated the Ottawa Redblacks 26-20 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg for their first Grey Cup win since 2005.

Jones said the team appreciated the ad hoc party.

"It's awesome. I mean this is why you do it,'' said Jones.

Hervey agreed that the losing years had frayed the fabric between the Eskimos and it fans.

"I think I'm most proud of (the fact that) the culture of the Edmonton Eskimos is back,'' said Hervey.

"I couldn't live with myself honestly if that part was lost between the community and the football team.''

The city will host a noontime downtown Cup celebration for the Eskimos on Tuesday.

Next up for Hervey may be a situation with Jones. There are reports the Saskatchewan Roughriders are offering Jones more money and a chance to be coach and GM.

Hervey declined to discuss it.

"Today's all about the players and the championship,'' he said. "When the time comes for all that other stuff, we'll get to that.''

(Canadian Press)