Johnson: Banks ready for all that Lewis can deliver
Battle between star Lions defender and Stamps’ leading pass catcher figures to be a good one
With Nik Lewis, it’s always been Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk.
Heavy on Da Noise.
“I listen to Nik, but I don’t LISTEN, if you know what I mean,” confesses B.C. Lions’ defensive back Korey Banks. “Doesn’t bother me. Besides, I have no trouble with people talkin’ trash if they believe it.
“And he believes it.
“At the end of the day, I respect him. What he says is not bulletin-board material for me or anybody else in here because everybody knows what kind of animal you’re dealing with.
“But he believes it. So I can’t get mad at him.”
Banks and Lewis. These two guys have gone toe-to-toe, give-no-quarter more often than Ali and Frazier. Their swashbuckling duels put Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone to shame.
Whenever a pending matchup against any defensive back is, at any point of any season, under discussion, the Calgary Stampeders’ super slotback always — literally, without fail — manages to squeeze Korey Banks into the conversation. He is always the comparable.
Seven years of fierce sparring has spawned a rich competitive admiration.
They renew acrimonious acquaintance Sunday at BC Place with a trip to the Grey Cup hanging in the balance.
“It’s kind of a love-hate relationship, right?” says Banks. “We’ve played against other for so long, you kind of get to know the guy. If he was on my team, we’d be the best of friends. I’m sure of that. But we aren’t, so we can’t be.
“Nik is absolutely the toughest guy I ever played against. And I’ve played against a lot of tough guys in my time. I mean, every game Nik brings his lunch pail. You can’t find a tougher guy in football than Nik Lewis. If you’re soft at any point . . . every DB that doesn’t have that dog in him, he’s gonna bring it out or he’s gonna cut your tail. He makes everybody around him tougher.
“He’s a sure Hall of Famer. Maybe he don’t get the style points a lot of them do, but he’s as good as advertised. He does all the dirty work for Calgary. He’s durable. You don’t see him on any injury lists.
“If I was a coach, I’d definitely make my guys watch his film, and I’d tell ’em: ‘This is the kind of guy I need on the field.’ ”
And if you were a wretched little scribbler, you’d want him standing in front of your voice recorder. Lewis, as is his want, went off on one of his entertaining soliloquies following the Stampeders’ semifinal heart-stopper against Saskatchewan, joking that the Lions had been in church praying the Riders would prevail and boldly predicting an upcoming upset at BC Place.
Well, Banks can confirm that he and his mates did not, as reported, join hands and launch into a chorus of ‘Kumbaya’ in anticipation of a Saskatchewan triumph nor, it seems, have they taken untoward exception to Lewis’ confident crystal-ball gazing.
After all, as mentioned earlier, they know the kind of animal they’re dealing with.
“Those things are irrelevant,” Lions’ coach Mike Benevedes told the Vancouver Sun. “It’s fun. I expect Nik to act that way. I love people being their own person . . . but that there . . . The team (Stampeders) goes as Nik goes. He brings the physicality and the mental attitude. Nik is a top-flight player in this league, for that very reason.
“Who makes the clutch plays for them on second down? It’s Nik Lewis. I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for him. I don’t think people give him enough credit for how good that team has been for so long.”
Sprinter Romby Bryant may have snared the jaw-dropping 68-yard TD in the final half minute to slay the sodbusters last Sunday and Maurice Price has indisputably stepped up to become more and more a major player in the Calgary offensive scheme, but Banks has no doubts that if the Stamps are going to push his Leos to the brink, or beat them, the stocky gent wearing No. 82 will have his say.
“With Nik, after the catch, he’s just getting started. That’s the difference between him and, say, a Fred Stamps. Most receivers make the catch and you can tackle them pretty quick. The catch is the thing. They don’t like the violence. Nik not only accepts the violence, he invites it.
“I think he was supposed to be a defensive player.
“This is not a shot at anybody, but we have better 1-on-1 players than a lot of teams. Not taking anything from them but a lot of those big plays (in the West semifinal) was throwin’ the ball up and Drew Tate believing in his receivers. I definitely like our secondary if they’re going to throw the ball up. I have to. I play with these guys. I know what they can do.”
Sunday, the duel is joined again. Banks and Lewis. Love-hate, one more time. With everything to play for.
“That’s why the rivalry between us and Calgary is so good,” coos Korey Banks. “Guys like me and Nik going at it. When those guys had Brandon Browner and Dwight (Anderson) going at it with Geroy (Simon) . . .
“You’ve had, and you’ve got, great matchups all over the field.
“It’s Calgary-B.C., man. We have a lot of good games with a lot of teams, but it simply does not get any better than this. We’re not looking past this week. This has been the year of the unthinkable in sports. The year of record breakers. Cornish. J.C. Sheritt, right? Geroy. Nik went over 10,000 yards.
“Anything can happen.
“So anybody that’s watching on Sunday, I’d advise them not to close their eyes for a moment ‘cause they might miss something.”
George Johnson is the Herald’s sports columnist. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald