Canadian Football League Championship (Grey Cup) – Update

The Grey Cup
The Grey Cup


It is over.  The BC Lions have won the 99th Grey Cup in Vancouver.  I would term the game as being the second most boring Grey Cup in recent memory, topped only by the 2007 tilt between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  I originally said it was the worst, but my friend Robin reminded of the 2007 clunker.  How can a 34-23 game be boring you ask?  Simple, both teams were just not that good.  From aging receivers to no talent receivers to young quarterbacks to banged up quarterbacks.  There was no running game for either team and frankly, both defences are highly rated only because the offences in the CFL this year were brutal.  Yes, it was a down year, a transition year maybe, for the CFL.  Several past superstars appear to have lost a few steps this year and may not be back in 2012.  Maybe next year will see some new superstars emerge.

The only question left about the Grey Cup in the sports riot capital of North America, Vancouver was, would there be a riot.  Thankfully there was none this year, although there was a mini riot at an alumni dinner.  Check out this video, then I’ll give you some background.  The stars of the video are 73 years old.



The occasion was a celebration of the 1963 Grey Cup in which both of these men played, obviously on opposite teams.  The gentleman with the cane is Angelo (King Kong) Mosca, a feared defensive lineman for the Hamilton Tiger Cats in 1963, and later a major wrestling talent after football.  The gentleman on the left is Joe Kapp.  Joe was, prior to his career with the Minnesota Vikings, the starting qb for the BC Lions.  During the 1963 Grey Cup, Angelo Mosca laid a questionable hit on the Lions star running back, Willie Fleming, knocking him out of the game.  The Ti-Cats went on to win 21 – 10.  Obviously the grudge is still alive.  By the way, there were riots in Vancouver after the 1963 game and after the 1966 game as well, both played in Vancouver.

Canadian Football League Championship (Grey Cup)

Winnipeg Blue Bombers logo
Go Bombers Go


Today is Canada’s biggest one day sporting event, the Grey Cup.  This trophy is emblematic of winning Canada’s football championship.  Canada plays American football, with a twist.  There are 3 downs, not four.  There are 12 players on the field for each side instead of 11.  The field is 110 yards, with a 25 yard end zone.  The field is also wider and motion is allowed by receivers and running backs prior to the snap.  These changes from the American game create a pass oriented, wide open, high scoring variety to the game.  It caters to mobile quarterbacks and smaller, quicker players.

This years championship game will be held in Vancouver, BC and features the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the BC  Lions.  The Lions play in Vancouver.  On paper and by a lot of pundits, BC is the favourite to win.  Myself, I am not so sure.  BC can and has been played to a standstill this year by teams with a good running game and a stout defence.  Winnipeg has both.  The other reason I am not so sure is that I am originally a Winnipegger and also, do not care much for the Lions.. To me the only question in the game is whether or not there are riots after the game, win or lose.

For my American friends, tear yourself away from the NFL for a bit today and watch this game.  It starts at 6:30 Eastern time and can be viewed in the USA on the NFL Network.

Canada Sports Update

Don’t touch on sports to much anymore, but it has been an interesting few weeks.  First off, the Rugby World Cup 2011was completed last week,

All Blacks v England
All Blacks

and I can’t believe this but I am now hooked on rugby.  Great game and nothing beats the challenge (Haka) by the All Blacks of New Zealand at the beginning of each game.  The All Blacks won it all, beating France in the final.  On the way they schooled a game Canadian team by a score of 79-15.

Second up is the CFL.  My beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders have crapped out.  I

Photo of the field of Mosaic Stadium at Taylor...
Taylor Field, Regina

cannot wholeheartedly cheer for any other team so I will make an objective prediction.  Prior to last week I would have said the BC Lions in a cakewalk, then in true CFL fashion, they had their butts handed to them by the Hamilton Tiger Cats.  Having said that, I will still go with BC, likely meeting up with Winnipeg in the Grey Cup.

Third up is the Vancouver Canucks.  As I expected, they are playing as well as a non-playoff team and are already in panic mode.  Roberto Luongo

Roberto Luongo, goaltender for the Vancouver C...
Roberto Luongo

is a spent force in Vancouver and I am sure that the Canucks will make an effort to ditch him.  He can’t stop anything right now.  In addition they traded Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm to the Florida Panthers for David Booth and Steve Reinprecht.  Reinprecht heads straight for the AHL, so essentially they dumped 2 for 1.  Booth, although having potential, is just another fast skater with no toughness and questionable defensive skills.  He was a minus 31 in Florida last year, with 23 goals, 17 assists and 26 penalty minutes.  Not the player they were needing.  Even Samuelsson had more points and penalty minutes than that.  All the Canucks gain is youth.

The Winnipeg Jets are rocking, doing as expected and giving the fans some hope for the future.  Last night’s 9-8 victory in Philadelphia against the Flyers was both ugly and beautiful all at the same time.  The Jets have an excuse to be on the bubble for the season, maybe the Canucks can learn something  from the Jets.

Fourth, the World Series.  Baseball is a wonderful game to watch when everything is on the line.  In no other sport do you have such drama, literally hanging on every pitch.  Last night was no exception.  David Freese is now a legend, whose heroics will be remembered for eternity in baseball lore as will the St Louis Cardinals comeback.  The Texas Rangers will have to shake this one-off if they want to win.  Regardless the Series has been a true Fall Classic, and Game 7 could be one for the ages.

Now We Don't Suck The Same As The Argos

Saskatchewan Roughriders Canadian football helmet
Saskatchewan Roughriders

Week 11 is now done, and I as I write, Week 12 is beginning.  After last week, we can make the following assumptions.  The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are definitely not located in Swaggerville.  After 2 resounding defeats to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, one can only wonder if the Bombers were a mirage.  They won a lot of close games that maybe they shouldn’t have won on their way to a 7-1 record.  Getting hammered back to back by a 1-7 team can make you think about things like that.  Things don’t get any easier for them as they have a first place showdown this weekend in Montreal with defending Grey Cup champs, Montreal Alouettes.

Speaking of the 1-7 team, the Riders are now not sucking the same as the Toronto Argonauts.  By virtue of their 3-7 record (thanks Winnipeg), we are now ahead of the 2-8 Argos.  The best part, we get to play them this weekend at home.  A victory will bury the Argos and put pressure on the next team up the ladder, the BC Lions.  The Lions are on the road against the Western Division leading Calgary Stampeders,  If the Lions lose and the Riders win, they will both be 4-7 and next week they face each other in Regina.  For the second time in my life, I find myself cheering for Calgary.

In what may be the game of the week, Edmonton Eskimos and the Hamilton Tiger Cats face off tonight in what will be a very entertaining game.  Both are excellent teams, with Edmonton currently in second in the West and Hamilton hanging tough with Winnipeg and Montreal.

After this weekend, everything could be very tight in the West and the Argos all but done for the year.  We will see if Winnipeg can turn it around in a tough match up and we will see if the Riders turnabout is for real.  They are taking the baby steps and looking at 1 game at a time, which is about all you can do when you were in their position.

Now We Suck The Same As The Argos

Canadian Football League ball with transparent...

Week 10 in the CFL is now in the record book, and what a week it was.  Labour Day weekend and all its rivalries, the end of summer, the start of let’s get serious football, the halfway point of the season.  There was a twist this year as the Toronto Argonauts vs the Hamilton Tiger Cats rivalry had to be put off this year due to scheduling issues.  This actually turned out for the best as Hamilton is tussling with the Montreal Alouettes for 2nd place in the East and is becoming a sweet rivalry in itself.  To the games themselves.  All were blow outs, with the BC Lions destruction of the Argos 29-16, the only one that could not be called a surprise.  Hamilton destroyed Montreal 44-21 in a major surprise.  The Edmonton Eskimos took apart the Calgary Stampeders 35-7 in Calgary.  I was actually, to my surprise, cheering for the Stamps in this one.

The major upset occurred in Regina.  The 7-1 Winnipeg Blue Bombers swaggered into Regina to take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders (1-7) in a game that the Swaggerville boys figured would be a walk in the park.  NOT!!!!  The pride of Saskatchewan dismantled the Canucks of the CFL in robotic order.  The final score was 27-7 in a game that saw all the missing parts of the Riders’ game come together.  Riderville is back.

As I noted last week, the Riders needed to take baby steps to come back to their game.  The first step has been taken.  We have caught the Argos and now stand at 2-7, even with Toronto and 1 game behind BC for 3rd in the West.  At this time last week, most would have said 2 losses to the Bombers.  Now we can do no worse than a split.

It will be an interesting week 11 as all teams play the 2nd part of a home and home.

In related news, Cleo Lemon, one time Miami Dolphin starting QB, was cut by the Toronto Argonauts after the teams loss to BC.  Steven Jyles will assume the role of starter next week.  The former University of Louisiana – Monroe QB had been on the sidelines with an injury and will be assigned the weighty task of salvaging Toronto’s season.

Now We Suck More Than The Argos

Photo of the field of Mosaic Stadium at Taylor...
Image via Wikipedia

It is quickly becoming apparent that the Saskatchewan Roughriders may not make the CFL playoffs this year.  This is appalling.  After 9 weeks, we are 1-7, all alone in last place in the league.  Fortunately  things are happening that may help turn things around.  First, firing Head Coach Greg Marshall and Offensive Coordinator, Doug Berry.  It was increasingly obvious that the change in philosophy from previous years to today was not taking hold.  This is a very talented team, with consecutive Grey Cup appearances.  What changed?  The coaching.  Time to change back, and they did.  Their 2nd move was to bring Ken Miller back into the Head Coach role.  This will change attitudes and bring everyone back into sync.  Quarterback Darian Durant was inconsistent with the cards he was playing.  He is known to respect coach Miller, and this alone will bring him out of his funk.  His discontent with past coaching staff was obvious.  It was also obvious that he was struggling with the new system.

The 3rd thing that will help is the return of Andy Fantuz, cut this week by the Chicago Bears.  Although he is not eligible for Sunday’s Labour Day Classic, last season’s leading receiver will be available the following week for the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg.  He will make an immediate impact on both the clubhouse and on the field.  A quarterback hates to lose his favourite target, so one can only imagine how Durant will feel about getting him back.

Now it is time for baby steps.  There are 10 games left.  This week’s game against league leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers will, or should be, an emotional game in reaction to the recent news and changes.  If I were the Bombers, I would tread carefully.  The giant may be awakened.  The next step is to stop sucking more than the Toronto Argonauts.  This should not be terribly difficult.  Once we catch them, then we look to the next target.

CFL After 6 Weeks

Andy Fantuz during a Saskatchewan Roughriders ...
Andy Fantuz - Image via Wikipedia

A third of the season and it is time to take a look at what is shaking out in the league this year.  I would like to be able to say that The Saskatchewan Roughriders are blowing away the rest of the league, but, in what can only be called a major surprise, they are languishing last place in the West with a 1-5 record, and, frankly, suck more than BC.  This is just one surprise.  Every team except the Calgary Stampeders, the Montreal Alouettes and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are  playing in the surprise category.  Lets examine who is surprising and why.

1. Saskatchewan Roughriders

Shocking.  Grey Cup finalists the past two years, the Riders are playing way below their potential.  From what I have seen there are 3 main reasons.  First, a new coach, with a different way of doing things.  To me, the team was built by the old coach and they are not adapting.  Second, the loss of Andy Fantuz has not been compensated for, and third, the defence is not working.  Time for an airlift and then back to the basics.  All is not lost, but it is getting close

2. BC Lions

They were expected to compete this year for a playoff spot.  They are not, and it appears they won’t.  Travis Lulay is performing as expected, but their running game is non-existent and their receiving corps has lost a step.  Gerot Simon is still a great receiver, but has lost the breakaway speed he once had.

3. Edmonton Eskimos

Wow, undefeated over the first 5 weeks, they are the biggest surprise.  The O-line is protecting Rick Ray, who is delivering strike after strike to a terrific receiving group, led by Fred Stamps.  Can they keep it up, I believe so.

4. Winnipeg Blue Bombers

First in the East, ahead of Montreal, not believable, but true.  The defence is the big reason for the turnaround.  They have 29 sacks in the first 6 games, most in the league, Hamilton and BC are second with 13.  The have allowed only 113 points as well.  Outstanding!  The offense, not so much.  They should have more points, but are struggling.  Their hold on first, or even a playoff spot is still tenuous and will depend on staying healthy and maintaining the pressure from the defence.

5. Toronto Argonauts

Who cares, it is the Argos and last is where they should be.

Lots of great football ahead.

Riders – That Was Embarrassing – CFL Week 1

Saskatchewan Roughriders Logo
Image via Wikipedia

Embarrassing is the right word, for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Calgary Stampeders.  Opening game for each, against supposedly inferior opponents.  Saskatchewan and Calgary were even playing at home.  They now join the BC Lions in losing the dream of an undefeated season.  Week 1 and everything is already upside down.  Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers in first with Montreal Alouettes?  The Edmonton Eskimos alone in first in the Western Conference and all 3 still dreaming of an undefeated season.  But it is the CFL after all.  These teams may not win another one all year.

The Riders showed a distinct weakness against the pass.  Ricky Ray dissected their defence and did so with little pressure on him at all.  The Riders offence looked good, but were prone to turnovers time and again.  The Bomber game, what a yawn, same with Toronto and Calgary.  Calgary does need a kicker though.  Lose by 2 and miss 3, not very good.

BC Lions Perfect Season Ends

BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes

The perfect season for the BC Lions ended with a thump on Friday evening as the Montreal Alouettes defeated them 30 – 26. This drops BC to 0-1 and last place in the West. All humour aside, a good game, which adds a couple of early footnotes to the new season.

Travis Lulay of BC appears to be the real thing. 26 of 45 for 366 yds and a TD, with 0 interceptions is not a stat line that BC quarterbacks have been putting up in recent years. If this is indicative of his talent, then the West is instantly a 3 team race.

Geroy Simon is the new Milt Stegall, ageless. He is 35 and had a great game. He had 5 grabs for 115 yards. He may not be as quick, but is every bit as efficient.

BC needs a running back to complete the deal on offence.

Montreal will be capable of defending their Grey Cup. Anthony Calvillo is unbelievable. He turns 39 in August and put up amazing numbers. He was 22/30 for 312 yds, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions. CFL, look out. If they protect him, they might repeat.

Jamel Richardson is turning into the premier receiver in the CFL. After his outstanding season last year, he appears to have turned it up yet again.

All in all, an entertaining game bewteen 2 good teams. As usual, the CFL will be exciting again this year.

Best hit of the night at the link.


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