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Veteran Ticats offensive lineman Van Zeyl opting for hotel life during Grey Cup prep

HAMILTON — While the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are staying at a local hotel, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are tucked into their own beds — if so desired.

HAMILTON — While the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are staying at a local hotel, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are tucked into their own beds — if so desired.

The Ticats have allowed their players to stay at home until Friday, although some have already made the move.

Veteran offensive lineman Chris Van Zeyl has checked into the hotel, with his wife giving him the thumbs up.

"I've got two young kids at home. Plenty of stuff to do at all times. We both kind of said this (week) needs to be a full-time thing," he said.

His children are "just about" one and three.

"One's crawling already and the other one's walking. And he's a little bit of a maniac," he said,

Van Zeyl said his wife will get her reward after the championship game.

"She's going to go somewhere and spa or something after the Grey Cup," he said. 

Running back Sean Thomas Erlington opted to stay at home for as long as possible. "I am sleeping in my home bed until (Friday)," he said.


WEATHER FORECAST: The weather is warming up for Grey Cup day after a week that started with snow and chilly temperatures.

The forecast calls for a mix of sun and cloud in Hamilton on Sunday with a high of plus-four during the day and plus-two at night.

Kickoff at Tim Hortons Field is set for 6:30 p.m. ET.


PAPI MONIKER: Hamilton wide receiver Papi White's first name is actually Sefuan (pronounced Sef-ON).

White said the nickname came in third grade when he was playing at a local school.

"My dad was on the sideline and he was always sayin 'Papi, Papi this, Papi that,' so everybody got used to it," White explained.

White, who hails from Seminole, Okla., has Native American heritage — Chickasaw/Seminole/Creek.

His father Amari competed in football and track at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. 

Papi White played 43 games from 2014 to 2018 at Ohio University, finishing as the program’s all-time leader in career receiving yards with 2,620. He pondered a career in sports journalism at least briefly.

"I was at first, until I realized I had to be in front of the camera," White said.


HOME FIELD: The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have been very good at Tim Hortons Field.

The Ticats are 16-2 there (regular season and playoffs) over the 2019 and '21 seasons. The CFL didn't play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hamilton hosts the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Grey Cup on Sunday at Tim Hortons Field.

Winnipeg last won in Hamilton in 2017 and has dropped its last two road games versus the Ticats.

Hamilton was 5-2 at Tim Hortons Field this season while Winnipeg was 4-3 on the road.


NEW FACES: Canadian Andrew Harris and Don Jackson will appear in the same game this season for the first time Sunday.

Neither Harris nor Jackson played in Winnipeg's 19-6 season-opening victory over Hamilton. But both running backs will start for their respective teams in the Grey Cup game at Tim Hortons Field.

The Bombers and Ticats met just the one-time during the regular season. 

Harris, a Winnipeg native, ran for 136 yards and a touchdown in the Bombers' 21-17 home win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders last weekend in the West Division final. It marked Harris's second career playoff 100-yard rushing performance.

Jackson had a career-playoff high 95 rushing yards on 16 carries in Hamilton's 27-19 East Division victory over the Toronto Argonauts. 


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2021

The Canadian Press