Tony Washington is thinking big.
“We’re talking about having a chance to get to the Grey Cup every year, every year after that. Maybe we can get to five in a row again!”
The Eskimos left tackle joined me on Inside Sports Wednesday night along with fellow offensive lineman D’Anthony Batiste. Both men were born in Louisiana, though Washington also grew up in Texas. They played other sports but couldn’t avoid football in a part of the world it’s the number one sport.
“In Texas, football is a religion,” said Washington. “It was either that or get a job.”
“It was either that or wrestle alligators,” joked Batiste.
Despite their southern roots, Batiste and Washington stayed in Edmonton over the winter. They took the Grey Cup to some schools and their favourite establishments. But now, the focus is on 2016 and getting that day with Cup again.
“I really wanted to stay here this off-season. We on of the offensive line have built a bit of a brotherhood. A lot of bonds and a lot of character is built through training next too each other in the off-season,” said Batiste.
Sure, it was a surprise when Chris Jones and his whole coaching staff left the Esks shortly after winning the title, but they believe the bond between players is what makes this version of the Eskimos special.
“Chris Jones brought this team together for a reason. He saw who we were as players,” said Washington. “I know who I’m playing with this year. I know who’s on my team. I know (new head coach Jason) Maas. Maas is a hell of a coach, and he was a hell of a player.”
Batiste is focusing on the continuity with the team rather than the changes.
“I’m happy at the situation. I’d rather lose the entire coaching staff than having a whole new team that I’m going into the season with. I’ve played with these guys. They’ve been battle-tested with me. I know what I’m going to get out of them,” Batiste explained.
“If I can win a championship with these guys in 2015, there’s no reason we can’t do it with the same group of guys in 2016.”
Here’s the full interview with Batiste and Washington: