VANCOUVER - Nik Lewis admits he’s a compulsive nail-biter to the point where his mom, a beautician, nags him to stop it.
“She’ll say, ‘Oh my god, you’ve been biting your nails again,’ ” Lewis told the Calgary Sun in an interview a few years ago.
Nail biting is not just nature’s way of telling the bruising Stampeders’ slotback that he needs more protein in his diet. According to psychologists, the condition — known as onychophobiga — manifests underlying feelings of anxiety, insecurity and stress. Biting one’s nails is an attempt to regain control of a life that is full of uncertainty.
Deep within him, Lewis knows that’s the case this week as the Stampeders prepare for Sunday afternoon’s West Division Final against the Lions at BC Place Stadium.
Minutes after Sunday’s 36-30 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the West semi, however, Lewis was concocting the fable that it’s the Lions who’ll be the ones fidgety and nervous and gripped by trepidation.
He told The Calgary Herald:
“I know they (Lions) were all in a prayer meetin’ this morning, hoping Sask won. They were probably sittin’ around singing ‘Kumbaya’ when Sask scored there at the end of the game, thinking it was over.
“They don’t want to see us. Just like Sask didn’t want to see us.”
The Lions would do well to remember those are the words of a compulsive nail-biter. Yet somebody at Lions’ headquarters in Surrey did pay heed to Lewis’s words by printing copies of his quote and distributing them at each man’s locker as they reported for meetings Monday morning.
Head coach Mike Benevides disavowed any credit for reprinting the bulletin-board material.
“Those things are irrelevant,” he said. “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.”
Despite his little nubby nails, Lewis latched on to a career-best 100 passes this season, finishing fourth in the CFL reception yards race with 1,241. His 10 touchdowns were second only to running back Jon Cornish (13) on the Stampeders.
“Who makes the clutch plays for them on second down? It’s Nik Lewis,” Benevides added. “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.”
That’s so true. He really nailed it.
Still, the cocky Stampeder receiver who portrays himself as a safe pair of hands in a pressure-packed world may not be all that he seems, with his fingers chewed to the proverbial quick.
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