November 6, 2019

Famous Amos

The nickname dates back to his first year trying out for the Manchester High School Lancers in Midlothian, Va.

“The ritual is, when you’re a new guy coming in and nobody knows you, they put your last name on a strip of tape on the front of your helmet,’’ DaShaun Amos is explaining. “So they asked me what my last name was.

“I told them but I guess they didn’t hear me clearly. So they asked again and I spelled it out for them.

“And they’re: ‘Oh, you mean like the cookies!

“So from then on, I became Famous Amos. After that, I felt kind of obligated to eat the cookies.

“And, know what? They’re good.”

So is he.

Fame, of course, is relative, even for someone nicknamed after a hunk of trademarked cookie-dough (made from only premium, semi-sweet Ambrosia® Chocolate Chips, as the ad line goes).

But DaShaun Amos took a step towards country-wide notoriety Wednesday, named a CFL West All-Star in his first season as a starter working inside the Calgary Stampeders’ defensive umbrella.

“I’m just maintaining the standard,’’ protests Amos, who made two starts – one at halfback, one at corner – in 2018. “The older guys – Wall, Smitty, even Bell – set that standard and the rest of us follow.

“It’s nice, individual recognition. A great honour, being recognized like this. Don’t get me wrong. I’m very grateful. But as long as I do my job according to the guys in the room, that’s what matters to me.

“They’re happy? I’m good with that.”

And why in heaven’s name wouldn’t they be over-the-moon elated? Replacing Emanuel Davis at the halfback spot, Amos registered 42 tackles, and pilfered five interceptions, including a decisive Pick Six in the Labour Day Classic rematch up north at Commonwealth Stadium and a late, potential-comeback snuffing steal off Winnipeg QB Chris Streveler to seal Calgary’s lone win over three starts against the Bombers.

As it happens, the Big Blue are here for a second visit this year in Sunday’s West semi-final at McMahon.

“No, no nerves,’’ Amos of his his first-ever pro playoff start. “Just being here last year, with the guys going all the way, I got a taste of it. And just these last few weeks feels like we’ve already played four or five playoff games. They’ve all been important games.

“We’ve had to learn to play down to the wire, how to finish games and learn from our mistakes.

“There’s no magical stuff out there. It comes down to who executes better, who comes out and makes plays. We’ve played them three times before, so we know what to expect. Make a great game plan and from there just be ready for anything and let them adjust to us, instead of the other way around.”

In acknowledging Amos’s all-star selection, DB coach Josh Bell sounds eerily like a proud, if gruffly, mildly unsatisfied foster-father figure.

“Oh, he made a lot of mistakes in practice,’’ Bell said. Then a smile. “In practice, mind.

“He actually utilizes practice. Makes some mistakes on Day One, less mistakes on Day Two, less mistakes – if any – on Day Three and so by game-day he’s almost letter perfect.

“They call him Famous Amos, right? Well, what’s in a name? Everything.”

And, yes, Mr. Bell does hold a certain fondness for the confectionary

“You have never had a Famous Amos cookie?!’” he gasps, blinking in disbelief. “Then you have been deprived of life. Oreo? Naw. Chips Ahoy!? Huh! You’re kidding, right?

“This kid, he is a solid, consistent football player. The Famous Amos of young DBs. As a coach, that gives you peace of mind. Look at Brandon Smith. He’s the perfect example for a guy like (Amos).

“Who cares about a ceiling? We can figure that out later. First off, you care about the basement. And his basement is high. So on a bad day, your bad games are other guys’ good games. They can only hope to be as good as a bad Brandon Smith game or a bad Famous Amos game.

“These guys are putting in the work so that even at they basement level, they’re still better than other people.

“That’s how you achieve greatness.”

And greatness is what DaShaun Amos is aiming towards.

It’s inherent, after all, in the nickname.

“I’m a guy who doesn’t like to leave any stones unturned,’’ he says. “I like to play free, play fast. No hesitation. Any questions I have, any mistakes I make, I want to have fixed by the weekend.”

There is no more important weekend, obviously, than the one upcoming, where Amos plans on living up to his cookie namesake.

“I’ve embraced it. It’s fun. And I like to have fun. If you take everything so serious, you’ll wind up with grey hair.

“Made it my Twitter handle, my Instagram handle. It’s even going to be on my cleats this weekend. Got ‘em custom-made.

“Check ‘em out.”

The fame, you get the feeling, is only just beginning.