TORONTO - Nik Lewis says he's misunderstood.
The bruising, controversial Calgary Stampeders slotback was vilified by Lions fans at B.C. Place Stadium in last weekend's West Division final.
He's not likely to be any more popular when his Stampeders meet the Toronto Argonauts in the 100th Grey Cup on Sunday at Rogers Centre.
But the 30-year-old who's angered opponents and fans alike with his in-your-face touchdown celebrations and controversial comments insists his public personal is "far different" from the personal one. Away from the spotlight, he said he's a boring guy who's hooked on soaps.
"When I step on the football field or step into an atmosphere like this, I'm an entertainer. When I'm off the field, it's something different," Lewis said.
The nine-year CFL veteran held court with reporters at the traditional media lunch Wednesday, and more than a week after he found himself in hot water over an off-colour and costly tweet, Lewis was still answering questions about his tendency to run headlong into controversy.
"I do this to entertain. When I tweet, when I do things and I say things, it's all about entertainment for me," Lewis said. "It's not about anything serious, I'm not really a serious person, I try to deal with pain through laughter, that's the way I approach it."
Lewis posted this questionable tweet on his Twitter account before the West final: "I just bought OJ's gloves on eBay. Now all I need is a white girl named Nicole." He added the hashtag #MaybeALittleToFar. The reference was to the 1995 murder trial of former NFL player O.J. Simpson.
"I've dealt with a lot of women and violence in the past, through my mother, so for people to say I support women's violence was very wrong," Lewis said.
Lewis was fined by the CFL for violating its social media policy. He donated his paycheque from the West final to a women's shelter in Calgary.
The five-foot-10, 240-pound receiver wouldn't expand much on his reference to his mom Wednesday, except to say "I've talked to her about it, I didn't want to make it a big deal because I don't think she needs the attention in a negative way. But at the same time it goes to show people that you really don't know me.
"You judge me off a comment off of a joke, but you don't know what I've been through," he added. "So for something that has been so close to me, it's ridiculous to think I support women's violence."
Stampeders coach John Hufnagel instituted a no-tweeting policy through the playoffs that Lewis said is fine with him.
"I feel more focused without tweeting. I'm actually good," he said.
On the field, Lewis was fourth in receiving yards this season with a league-best 100 catches. He's making his second Grey Cup appearance after helping Calgary to the 96th championship in 2008.
Off the field, he's a big fan of "General Hospital," a show he's watched religiously for the past 11 years. He laughed about how he fell asleep on the couch during an episode only a day earlier. He lamented the recent departure of the character "Jason" after 30 years on the show.
"I used to work out with my cousin and every day I'd go over there and he'd watch it, so I had to watch it, and I got hooked," he explained.
As for his demonstrative demeanour on the field, Lewis said that's the mindset he has to be in to create the level of intensity he needs to play with.
"It really helps because I think it gives me an edge, I have to go to a place that allows me to go out and really be physical and dominate somebody," Lewis said. "But off the field, I'm kind and I'm caring."
The Stampeders were in a jovial mood during Wednesday's lunch. Defensive back Tad Kornegay, who's making his fifth Grey Cup appearance — with his third different team — wrapped a napkin around the top of a knife in a makeshift mic and then worked the room, interviewing his teammates.
He asked quarterback Kevin Glenn, "How does it feel having Tad Kornegay as a teammate?"
"It actually feels great because he's always in the Grey Cup, so you know if he's on your team, you're going to be in the Grey Cup," Glenn said, with a laugh.
With Kornegay hovering over his shoulder, Glenn said "Sometimes you've got to step out of being a quarterback and you've got to sometimes be a father figure to some of the children we have on our team. By the name of Tad Kornegay."
The 33-year-old Glenn said "words can't describe" how excited he is this week. The resilient 12-year CFL veteran has never played in the CFL championship. Five years go, he led Winnipeg to the East final, but broke his arm late in the game and was on the sidelines to watch his Blue bombers lose to Saskatchewan.
"It's one of those things that you want to enjoy it while it's here and try and take everything away from it and go out on Sunday and play a good game and hopefully take that Grey Cup back to Calgary," Glenn said.
Glenn, now the starter with incumbent Drew Tate shelved due to an arm injury, said he's been encouraging his young teammates to soak up the atmosphere in Toronto.
"Don't try to overwhelm yourself, but at the same time you want to enjoy this because this doesn't come around a lot," Glenn said. "I know a lot of guys out there who have had very long careers and never ever played in a Grey Cup or won one.
"So enjoy the week, enjoy the festivities, but still stay focused at the task at hand and that's winning the game on Sunday."
Glenn and running back Jon Cornish, a native of New Westminster, B.C., stood rooted to their spots in a hotel conference room and spoke to reporters for more than half an hour apiece. Wave after wave of journalists came by to ask for their thoughts.
Cornish's mom, Margaret, has been vacationing in Israel, but was flying to Toronto on Thursday for the CFL awards banquet, where Cornish is a finalist for both top Canadian and outstanding player.
Cornish said despite the escalating violence in Israel, he wasn't worried about his mom.
"It's a great opportunity for her to see what a war zone is like. . . I'm not super worried for her, if she was in the Gaza Strip I would definitely be a lot more worried," Cornish said.
"I think it's cool for her, because she loves being in different situations, we've been in Africa, we've been in Zimbabwe, she's been in Asia now, and now checking out Israel now, it's just adding to her story."