Johnson: West the quiet worker in the Stamps’ ‘Mo and Joe Show’
Calgary boasts perhaps the finest outside receiving duo in the CFL
Every attention-grabber needs his stabilizer, his grounding. Every Kirk, his Spock. Every Jerry Lewis, his Dean-o. Every Lou Costello, his Bud Abbott.
The balanced anchor, the laid-back sidekick, the invaluable straight man. The often underappreciated but absolutely essential second banana to the success of the partnership.
“Oh yeah, he gets his Shine,” says Joe West, smiling slightly. “But I don’t worry about his Shine. I’m gonna worry about preparing myself for my Shine.
“That’s the way the world works. I sit back and take of what I take care, so I can be ready when my time comes. It goes hand in hand. When he does good, I do good and we have our days. And everybody benefits. It’s no problem. We share. We’ve got our mojo working. We all want to have success.
“What we can on the field as individuals is support each other.”
The Mo and Joe Show.
It does more than just trip invitingly off the tongue.
It’s being pegged for a long TSN run with boffo ratings.
With justification, Calgary Stampeders’ wideout Maurice Price now often finds himself tagged as ‘The Next Great CFL Receiver.’ A clap of thunder capable of splitting open a defensive-zone coverage in a flash of light.
But on the far side, never forget, resides a certain Mr. Joe West, himself a rather potent blend of quicksilver and blasting gelatin.
“There’s no doubt that Mo’s gotten a lot of the spotlight, just from the way he finished last season,” agrees Stamps’ receivers coach Pete Costanza. “But never forget, Joe was no slouch, either. He’s a big, tall, physical guy that has great, real strong hands. A good blocker. We’re fortunate to have him playing opposite of Mo because both of them offer challenges on the outside.
“It’s a real unique construct with our whole receiving corps. They know their roles, they know what they’re good at, they know how to play within the scheme. They also know there might be a game where you’re gonna get eight catches, some where you get three, or maybe none.
“And they’re all fine with that.”
Physically, Price and West are virtually matching bookends. Both stand 6-1. Price has a little more meat on his bones, 205 to 195. But they can both scamper like shied deer and leap like Jordan in all his Airness splendour.
Remember back, and the now-gone Romby Bryant and now-injured Johnny Forzani were the wideouts for 2012’s season opener against Montreal. Friday versus the Lions, The Mo and Joe Show took over the prime-time slot and drew gushing reviews.
Price latched onto six passes for 77 yards and a touchdown, West five for 51 and a pair of majors.
Wednesday, after the rest of the Stampeders are trotting off the field at McMahon, checking the interview board or making a beeline for the locker-room, West, on his knees, is corkscrewing his body first left, then right, then back again, snaring pass after pass after blessed pass from quarterback Drew Tate. Sharpening technique, improving consistency.
“Underappreciated?” responds Tate a bit later, when No. 85’s name is introduced into conversation. “You think so? Not by me. Not by us. I think the thing that makes both of them so good is their work ethic.
“You saw us out there throwing balls after practice on Day Three. It’s stuff like that that shows guys really care, guys really love to play, trying to get better. It’s that attitude that you have to — that’s what being a professional is all about — have the whole season. Not in spurts, not when you feel like it, not half the season. The whole season.
“They’ve both got a lot of speed and football savvy. What also helps is Quay (Marquay McDaniel), Nik (Lewis) and Jabari (Arthur) . . . those are great possession guys inside and you’ve got those two great speed guys on the outside.”
If Price is on the threshold of stardom in this league, those who know — those who play alongside him — say his bookend buddy isn’t far behind.
“Joe,” says Tate, “is a specimen. He really is. He lost weight, too, and I think it really helped him because now he can be a lot shiftier.
“He’s got the strongest hands on a receiver I’ve ever thrown to. Just strong, strong to the ball. Where it was evident (Friday) was the (second) touchdown, the deep out, he just went up there and just grabbed it. No questions asked. He’s obviously confident in his hands and you can tell he’s getting more confident every day he gets out here.”
The best outside tandem in Canada? Could very well be, even if you won’t be coaxing West into slapping himself on the back.
“Joe,” says Costanza, “is just a quiet guy. He does a really nice job every week with his game plan. He’s that guy, quite honestly, that you’re going to see go out there every week, plug away and when it’s over you’re like ‘Oh, wow! That West, he had a pretty good game.’
“He is, how should I say this . . . the quiet worker.”
The quiet worker. That’s it, in a nutshell. Billing in The Mo and Joe Show, you see, is not at issue.
“Me and Mo, we were in camp in Florida together,” reminds West. “We started the journey there, together. And then we came down here, together. Along with Bo (Levi Mitchell). Bo, Mo and Joe. Mo and I work good together because we respect each other’s game. And the only way we’re going to get better is if we help each other.
“You can’t worry about that other stuff. First and foremost, you gotta do your job and you gotta appreciate the work your partners do. When you put it all together, you hope you’ve got a championship team. That’s the whole purpose of this.
“We’re all in this for one thing: To win a Grey Cup.
“We do that, and everybody gets his Shine.”
George Johnson is the Herald’s sports columnist. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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