VANCOUVER - Hamilton defensive back Brandon Stewart spent his first two years in the CFL with Calgary, seeing limited action and an unwanted trip to an ice bath.
A rookie at his first Stamps' training camp in 2007, Stewart found himself in cold water thanks to veterans Nik Lewis and Ken-Yon Rambo.
"They dunked me in the cold tub head first just because I wouldn't carry their stuff," Stewart recalled Thursday. "It's just you've got to pay your homage out there."
Now an eight-year CFL veteran, the 28-year-old from Seattle recalled the hazing with a smile. He bears no grudges.
"They're a good group," he said of the Stamps, Hamilton's opponent in Sunday's Grey Cup. "They're a veteran-led team, they always have been. They've always been a hard-nosed, tough football team. They've always been well coached."
Stewart renewed acquaintances with Lewis on Wednesday.
"He's a good dude," Stewart said. "It'll be fun to play against some of my old guys ... I'm excited. I can't wait."
Stewart, who recalls he was wearing cleats in the colours of his Eastern Arizona College Gila Monsters at the time of the dunking, is a happy man in his chosen profession.
"I get to wake up every morning and play a game," said the six-foot-one 203-pounder. "What more in life could you want? I'm happy. Every day I wake up, I'm happy. No matter if I'm sore, no matter if I'm bumped and bruised. We lost. We get to play a game.
"And you've just got to cherish these moments. Because it's not for ever. Once we hang the pads up, they're up. They're up for ever. Just take full advantage of the day."
Stewart spent most of 2007 on the Stamps' practice roster, playing one game that year and another in 2008 before being released. He spent the next five years with Winnipeg before joining Hamilton as a free agent in February.
Fellow Ticat cornerback Delvin Breaux is delighted to have teamed up with Stewart.
"I love him," he said. "I'm glad Coach O (defensive co-ordinator Orlondo Steinauer) was able to bring him in.
"Because I've never met a person more enthusiastic and more willing to work hard just to be the best," he added. "I've never met a person the way Brandon Stewart is."
The two are close. When the Alouettes denigrated Stewart before the Eastern final, Breaux said he took it personally.
"That's my brother, man," said Breaux.
"I just told him 'Man, don't worry about it. Keep your head up. We're going to be there for you.'"
Said Stewart: "It was motivating, yeah. I wouldn't say me personally. But they definitely motivated some of my other teammates. Because they (Montreal) want to play a one-on-one football game. We play team football. It's not about individuals, it's about a team and that's why we're here and they're not."
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