The parents of Hamilton Tiger-Cats offensive lineman Marwan Hage have flown all from Lebanon to Regina to see this. Their son, a 10-year CFL veteran, is playing in his first Grey Cup.
The 32-year-old centre has played his entire career with the Tiger-Cats, and will finally suit up in the championship game this Sunday versus the Saskatchewan Roughriders. His large group of family has made the trip, including his wife, in-laws, brothers from Montreal, and his parents, who have just arrived from Beirut, where he was also born before the family immigrated from a war-torn city to Canada in 1990.
"I'm worried about my mother because she's a petite lady and she was just sitting under the sun in Beirut, and now she's under the sun at -30," said the 6-foot-2, 291 pound lineman, with a laugh. "But she'll be dressed from head to toe."
The long-time Ticats blocker has been through the gamut of seasons in Hamilton from missing the playoffs completely to fall just short by losing in the Eastern Final. He's been through injuries and surgeries. But he knows that storyline won't weigh much on Sunday once the game starts.
"The guy on the other side on the line doesn't care how long it took me to get here," said the always-frank and lively Hage after the Ticats very brief final walk-thru Saturday inside Mosaic Stadium. "He wants to win as much as I want to win, and I don't care how long it took him to get here. "
Hage has played in plenty of big games though, like when his University of Colorado Buffaloes upset The University of Texas Longhorns in the Big 12 conference final of 2001 in Irving, Texas.
"We beat Texas in Texas, kind of like playing Saskatchewan in Saskatchewan," said Hage. "We attacked and attacked and didn't take no for an answer."
While temperatures in Regina have been as low as -30c this week, Sunday is forecasted to see a much more comfortable -1 to -7c. But Hage relishes the frigid Regina temperatures, saying all he'll need is a couple of stops to the sideline hot-air warmer to thaw his hands. And
"This is the most comfortable I am – in the huddle on the field," said Hage. "This is my relief – the game. So I can't wait for it to start."
Hage and his wife are expecting their first baby in February -- a boy.
"I wish I could have the Grey Cup the day he's born," said Hage. "I want to put him in it and have a bowl of cereal."