Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell's eyes were half-open and the voice of head coach and general manager John Hufnagel cracked as players and coaches rolled off a pair of buses at McMahon Stadium on Monday just past noon.
The Stampeders had claimed the 102nd Grey Cup less than 24 hours earlier in Vancouver, where Calgary defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 20-16 at B.C. Place.
The team flew in the morning via charter from the West Coast to frosty Calgary, where they were greeted by fans, including one dressed as Santa Claus, and their snow-covered cars in McMahon's parking lot.
The historic silver trophy that had separated into two pieces during post-game celebrations was intact again and hoisted repeatedly. The cup was back on its base and the players were hazy on the details of its reassembly.
"How did we fix it? I have no idea how they fixed that," said Mitchell, the Grey Cup's MVP. "They had some tape on it at first. I don't even know what happened to it. Hey, it's a hundred years old right?"
The City of Calgary will host a downtown celebration for the Stampeders on Tuesday.
The Stampeders have compiled the CFL's best regular-season record over their seven seasons under Hufnagel at 88-37-1. Calgary has posted the best single-season record in the CFL, or tied for it, five times.
That hasn't often translated into playoff success. Calgary won a Grey Cup in Hufnagel's first year at the helm in 2008, but after that the Stampeders were defeated Saskatchewan in three division finals (2009, 2010, 2013). The Stampeders also lost the 2012 Grey Cup to the host Toronto Argonauts.
"I've only had one other Grey Cup win as the head coach," Hufnagel told assembled media. "This is for the players. They went through way too much stuff from you guys, believe me, from you guys. I'm very pleased they were able to exorcise all that.
"It was an exciting day, an exciting night. You cannot understand how pleased I am for the players."
The Stampeders went 15-3 in the regular season to match a franchise record. Calgary downed the Edmonton Eskimos 43-18 in the West final to advance to this year's Grey Cup.
"It's a satisfying feeling putting all that work in for six months in the off-season and five months during the season," Mitchell said. "Hopefully it's the first chapter in a very long book. That's what I'm really hoping."
The quarterback estimated he'd slept half an hour since winning the Grey Cup, linebacker Juwan Simpson said an hour and running back Jon Cornish managed about 90 minutes. Most of that shut-eye was on the flight back to Calgary.
"Once the plane landed, guys got right back energized," Simpson said. "I expect it will be an interesting few weeks in Calgary."Suggest a correction