Sunday, November 21, 2004

In praise of Pinball

There is a special bond between the Argonaut coach and his players, one that seems to go deeper than the normal give and take of player and coach. You only had to watch the opening moments of Sunday’s Grey Cup to understand just how much the Argonaut players would do for their guiding force in Double Blue.

There in the tunnel as the players were being introduced was Mike "Pinball" Clemons, a word for each starter as he headed out the tunnel, a slap on the pads, a laugh, a hug and always that smile. It’s the smile that makes you realize that playing football for Clemons may not just be a job or a sport, perhaps it’s a mission.

His enthusiasm is legendary, his eloquence obvious. There are many that say the Argos should tape his pre game speeches and sell them, such are they the definition of motivation. And if the results are any indication they should double the press run.

While there may be many across Canada who probably have no great love lost for anything Toronto, there can’t be many, if any who don’t have the highest regard for Clemons. He seems to be the embodiment of the can do ethic. He approached his season this year in an always moving forward mode, never looking back.

Having taken his football team from the Bankruptcy court a year ago, the stadium on Bank Street on Sunday, the reason for this team’s success can safely be attributed to the head coach. He delegates the responsibility and the praise to his coaches and both Rich Stubler on defence and Kent Austin on offence have done an amazing job with a young Argo team this year. But the glue of the franchise is the humble man from Florida, who has become much larger than a team, a league or even the game of football.

The success of his team on Sunday will only go to cement his relationship with his adopted home (and soon his new country). Toronto has frequently had heroes over the years only to watch them disappear with nary a glance from the faithful. For Clemons that will never happen, he has become as much of that city as any original settler family from the days of Upper Canada and a town called York.

He’s a tireless volunteer, a publicity shy visitor to countless children’s causes and the go to guy when somebody needs a name for a fund raising drive or a spokesperson for a cause. And besides all those good works, he’s obviously a pretty good football coach. A roster of players wearing double blue are holding onto a Cup and will soon get some rings, testimony that treating your workers with respect and honesty still counts for something in an era of greed and me first personalities.

You saw it in the tunnel before the game, on the sidelines as the game progressed and on the field at the end as they gave out a trophy. Respect both given and received, one of the keys to a hard earned victory by a team featuring a classy coach.

The fear of Bashir!

Field position is a most important aspect of Canadian football. With a wider field, a longer field and far reaching end zones to work with every foot, every inch is important.

With that the BC Lions continually put their defence in a hole time and time again on Sunday. The Lions kicking game was a confusing amalgam of pooch kicks, shanked kicks and mis directed kicks all one suspects designed to keep the ball from Bashir Levingston, Arland Bruce and the much vaunted Argo special teams.

But by frequently turning the ball over to Damon Allen on his own fourty five yard line or in BC territory, the Lions made Allen's job that much easier on Grey Cup Sunday. In fact by refusing to challenge the possibly explosive duo of Levingston and Bruce deep in the Argo zone, the Lions may have signaled a subtle sign of disrespect to the Argo quarterback. Instead of hammering the Argos deep into their own end, the Lions would spot Allen the forty yards and dare him to make them pay. Suggesting an arrogance that they believed they could stop him from anywhere on the field.

The payback began in the second and third quarters when the veteran Argo QB took control of the game and took his team to the Lions house in three consecutive possessions. Twenty one points later, the Lions began to kick the ball deep into the Argo end, successfully corralling Levingston and Bruce, but having surrendered too many points early on to overtake the Double Blue.

The strategy no doubt looked good on paper, the Lions defence for most of the season has been a dominant group, frequently invading the offensive zone and disrupting the flow of their opposition. But on this Sunday, the Argos much maligned O line held their own, giving Allen the time to set up the passes that would bring victory to Toronto for the fifteenth time.

The safe play was to avoid Levingston and not tempt the fates of the special teams, but when you play safe you lose your edge. And when you give up field position as much as the Lions did on Sunday you lose football games.


For the fifteenth time a Toronto Argonaut has hoisted Lord Grey's Cup in celebration. And Sunday night there was no more deserving person than Damon Allen to hold the fabled Chalice high into the Ottawa night sky.

The ageless wonder, at 41 turned in another one of his dominant Grey Cup performances to lead his band of double blue brothers on to a convincing 27-19 victory over a stunned BC Lion squad.

Turning the game around in the latter stages of the second Quarter, Allen controlled the play and led his team down the field at Frank Clair stadium, time and time again. After an initial phase of testing the Lion defence, Allen began to take the play into the Lion secondary and found the success that would lead him to his fourth Grey Cup win in five tries. With the Offensive line controlling the usually swarming Lion defence all night, Allen had not only time to throw the ball but could pick out the holes created and run the ball himself.

With a 17-10 lead at the half, Allen picked up where he left off in the third quarter taking his Double Blue down field once again, running in another touchdown and propelling the Argos to a 24-10 lead before Duncan O'Mahony could reply with a field goal in the third quarter.

Noel Prefontaine would add the final three points for the Argos, while Dave Dickenson would engineer one more touchdown drive for the Leos, only walk away with nothing for extra points after consecutive time count violations. The miscommunication on the extra point an indication as to how the small things would cost the Lions on this Grey Cup Sunday. The Lions made too many errors on the field, too many mental errors and surrendered far too much of the field in a kicking game that never seemed to get untracked. With the defence mired in a game long malaise and a offence that could only perform in spurts the day was long and the flight home will seem longer for the Lions.

Controversy will flow through the Vancouver airwaves this week as the talk shows rehash the decision to not use Casey Printers in the season finale. To be fair to Dave Dickenson his numbers were not too bad, he was close to turning the tide but a pass too far, an untimely fumble or the inability to shut the Argos down contributed to the shortfall from a Lion point of view.

This night belonged to Allen, who has wandered from CFL outpost to outpost for these twenty years, a solid workmanlike performer who never has achieved all star status, yet seems to the guy you want in control when the Cup is there to be taken. Named the Grey Cup MVP on Sunday night, there could not be any argument with the selection he had that much influence on the outcome of this game.

For Argo coach Mike Clemons the season ending success is a much deserved reward for yeoman like work on behalf of the Double Blue. The always emotional Clemons must have felt huge pride in the play of his players, the respect offered up to his coaching and the sense of team that they called upon in this pivotal game.

In a league that has seen almost everything go right this year, there probably is no better result than Sundays final. The folks in BC will have some disappointment with the so near and now so far ending. But a new year beckons, they host the 2005 Grey Cup in Vancouver and despite the end result in 2004 this is a team that will be heard again come next May.

But for tonight, tomorrow and the off season this year belongs to the Argos! From bankruptcy to champions in 365 days, that smile on Pinball's face couldn't possibly get any wider but one suspects he'll give it his best chance for the next little while.

And finally it’s about the game

The build up is complete, the press conferences done, the practices and game plan routes finished, the Commissioner has spoken and those wild Grey Cup partiers will have probably just wrapped up before kick off. And finally for Grey Cup 92 it will be in the hands of the players.

Two teams with their own strengths will take to the field at Frank Clair as 51,000 cheer them on in what hopefully be another CFL classic. The game will feature an Argo team with the steady hand of Damon Allen and a list of young but talented receivers against a hard hitting and devastating BC Lion front line. The Argo special teams featuring the talents of Bashir Levingston have propelled the Argos to success all year long; the Lions will need to contain Levingston to keep the Argos in check.

The Lions have yet to signal who will start at QB for them on Sunday, most observers are checking Casey Printers name in their programs for the start, a remarkable year capped off by the outstanding player of the year award may just be rewarded with a Grey Cup start. But how does one go against the veteran service and calm of Dave Dickenson, the starting QB may be Wally Buono’s biggest decision of the year. Regardless of whom starts the Lions perform well with either Printers or Dickenson. Thelwell, Cutollo, Brazell, Simon and Clermont equally at home with whoever can get them the ball. Antonio Warren is ready to burst through the Argo line and roll up some yardage. Rich Stubler’s defence of course will be hoping to keep up their ability to keep the competition out of the end zone.

The Lions defensive line is the toughest in the league, regularly inflicting punishment on those fool hardy enough to travel through their zones, can they get into the backfield and sack Allen? Will they hold off the Argo running game, forcing the Argos to punt early and often, it makes for one of the many keys to watch as the Grey Cup plays out its drama on Sunday.

One team will taste the elixir of success, the other the bitters of defeat. The winner though is the league and its fans that have rallied around a grand old league this year as never before. The 92nd Grey Cup with any luck will follow the course of many of those before it, a close, entertaining affair with much drama.

When the final whistle blows and the historic Lord Grey’s Cup is awarded it shall be the team from the West. Phone your bookies, the Lions will win 27-24. The veteran squad that presents that entertaining brand of Wallyball will find a way to defeat the soldiers of the Pinball. While both coaches and indeed both teams probably deserve to win, someone will have to lose. Prepare for another beauty, the great old game is preparing to entertain us again!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

It’s a Feel Good Finale

Sunday’s Grey Cup Championship signals more than just the end of another football season, this year more than any in recent memory it signals the return of the CFL to the national psyche.

Throughout the year the signs had been there of a return of the game to its roots, the rebuilding of a national brand that had suffered a few lean years, but now seems poised to once again capture our imaginations, hearts and if we may be so crass even our wallets.

With steady growth in three key cities, Hamilton, Toronto and Vancouver the death watch can be suspended if not outright dismissed. For as the 2004 season closes its books Sunday the excitement over Canadian football seems to have come back to a level once remembered by the loyalist of CFL fans.

With no real fires to put out this year Commissioner Tom Wright could address a few football issues for a change, something novel and most welcome for the CFL. Last year at this time the rejuvenation began anew in Toronto and Hamilton as new owners were introduced with new plans, new ideas and new hope. But unlike past years where the sizzle never matched the steak, this year has been different. Toronto and Hamilton, both fielded entertaining squads giving fans there a hope of much better to come. The Ti-Cats the most remarkable of turn around stories in years, providing winning football and packed stadiums, Hamilton has shown that if there is a reason to attend the fans will come back

The Argos as well have slowly found the faithful returning to the Skydome in numbers large, fully entertained by an energetic squad that seems to find ways to win. This season the team was finally able to overtake the Alouettes to represent the East in this years Grey Cup, a wonderful thank you present for owners who seem to finally have a handle on how to make the CFL sell in Toronto.

Their counterparts in this years Grey Cup the BC Lions are merely the most entertaining team in the CFL this year, the culmination of a master plan from Bob Ackles and Wally Buono, finally giving owner David Braley some reward for his early days in Vancouver, days when saner minds may have questioned his commitment. Braley watched as Ackles quietly put some key players on the roster, brought the business community back on side and began to restore a Roar long silenced in Vancouver. Wally Buono who must be considered one of the most successful coaches ever in Canadian football, once again has sold his brand of Wallyball to a new and eager group of disciples. Featuring a wily veteran who has done it all in the CFL and the rising star that has had just an amazing debut in the CFL, the Lions never say die when things look their bleakest. Whether it’s Dickenson or Printers this team is going make a game of it wherever the ball lands.

On the other side of the sidelines Sunday is an ageless wonder, who battles on bringing a sense of calm to a youthful squad, some young enough to be his own kids. Damon Allen has been around so many CFL teams that he’s managed to last longer than a few of the teams he has toiled for. Sunday’s game brings him back to the Grey Cup against a team that effectively told him he was no longer wanted. What better finish could a player hope for; if this indeed is the year that Allen decides to hang up his cleats then there is no greater way to exit than in the biggest game of the year. Win or Lose Sunday, Allen will be given his due, his impact on the CFL has been immense, and his talent frequently on display and the results speak for themselves.

The field bosses in this much anticipated match up seem like candidates for the nicest guys in the world award. Their players speak highly of their preparation, their motivation and the ability to get the best out of each and every player. They rarely have a negative word to speak and both seem to be a template for how a coach should approach the game. Both Pinball Clemons and Wally Buono have taken over their respective teams at a vital crossing in the clubs history, both have taken their teams to safer shores, stronger for the journey and bringing many bystanders back onboard for the ride.

As the Game approaches the stadium is sold out, as fans from across Canada have made the trek to view the 92nd edition of Lord Grey’s contest for football supremacy. The country seems awash in Grey Cup interest again, house parties have been planned, the bars ready to welcome the fan of the three down game back for the show. The expected television audience may be a CFL record by 9 pm Sunday night. With ad availability long since sold out, the CBC can look at Grey Cup Sunday as one of its biggest telecasts of the year. This one day celebration of Canadianna features none of the political overtones of other events. It’s the ultimate celebration for the people, of the people and by the people!

Sit back and enjoy the show, and raise your beer in a salute to the little game that keeps on rolling along. For those that are just joining the long lasting faithful, welcome aboard glad you found us. You’ll find the entertainment supreme and the atmosphere infective. For those that are returning after an absence, glad your back, you’ve been missed, but we kept a seat warm for you!

But for us old timers, it’s a chance to revel in the attention our game is finally getting again. Many have hollered into the wilderness for years about the entertainment of the game, the accessibility of the players and pride of something that is just plain our own. To see the CFL find all its stars aligned this year has been a welcome development. Now that it’s back on the radar again, its time to build on the momentum. The game has always had the strength to survive the tough times; now that its most definitely turned its corner the time is here to entrench the brand across the land. The once again brave talk of Canadian expansion, a sign that better days are on the horizon.

But we’ll leave that job to the suits in the various team offices for Sunday, we’ll just sit back and enjoy the football which Features two most deserving teams. Each brings their strengths and players that can change their destiny. In the end it’s about the game and as any long time CFL fan will tell you, the game never, ever lets us down!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Glieberman blowback!

The thought of the Glieberman's bringing their father and son ownership show back to the Nation's Capital is causing a bit of discomfort amongst the football fans there.

The story which broke a couple of days ago, suggested that Lonnie and Bernie were inclined to invest once again in the CFL and would like nothing better to take a fifteen percent share of the team in the city they once spent time in.

But in this case abscence apparently does not make the heart grow fonder. From the bars, to the coffee shops, in print and on the air. For many in Ottawa it will be a case of nice to see ya, too bad you can't stay here's your hat what can we say!

The Renegades of course busy with putting on a Grey Cup week full of activities haven't had a chance to speak out on the matter. But some uncomfortable happenings of the week seem to lend a miniscule amount of credence to the Glieberman rumour. There is no secret that the Rens at the moment are in the midst of a power struggle in the back rooms of the Nations capital's football team.

Twisting in the wind while all of this sideshow activity goes on are Eric Tillman, Joe Paopao and his coaching staff, who all wait patiently for developments to give them some kind of path to follow in the next little while.

Tillman apparently telegraphing his expectations by spending Grey Cup week in Mississippi golfing, suggesting that his days as GM of the Renegades are now short and getting shorter.

While the parties and celebrations rage on about them, the Rens look to solidify their financials, settle down their ownership questions and get back to putting some football onto the field. Judging by the reaction in Ottawa, they might be best off doing all of the above with the help of the Glieberman's.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Lock up your Cheerleaders!

Let the snickering begin anew in the Capital. Word leaked out on Tuesday that a name partially associated with the demise of the Ottawa Rough Rider franchise is back and making some noise. With a simple declaration that "we love the CFL", memories some good, some bad, flooded back to football fans in the Capital. The Glieberman's Bernie and Lonnie, are still fans of 3 down football, despite their heavy losses as owners of not one but two franchises in the CFL.

For those that have lost track, the Glieberman's were owners of the Rough Rider Franchise in the early 90's. Part of a string of owners, who in a short period of time who watched the once proud franchise spin into oblivion. Bernie and son Lonnie are best known for bringing the Dexter Manley sideshow to Ottawa and whispering the name of Mike Ditka into the ears of Capital football fans. Manley eventually disappeared much like the Rough Riders did and the only Iron Mike that Rider fans would recognize was that of Mike Keenan. But the Glieberman years were at least exciting, detrimental at times yes, but exciting none the less. Known for interfering with their coaches and the youngest Glieberman for his dating of cheerleaders, the jury is still out on whether they helped or hindered the CFL team in it's declining years.

The Michigan millionaires eventually took their act down to the Bayou, purchasing the Shreveport franchise during the ill fated American expansion years of the mid nineties, leaving the Riders to the likes of Bruce Firestone and a list of managers who eventually surrendered the franchise to the league.

Despite the lack of success both on the field and at the box office, the Glieberman's still have fond those fond memories of the game and say they wouldn't mind getting back into an ownership situation perhaps with the Ottawa Renegades, a team currently involved in a backroom power struggle for control. And the news of the Glieberman's resurfacing, is making a few ripples in the Ottawa area, with many remembering the side show atmosphere that seemed to permeate the Riders offices in those crazy days.

Yet there are some that claim the Glieberman's got a bad rap, they poured their own money into the team, tried to make some changes that obviously didn't work, but on the whole seemed to have the teams best interests at heart. They even managed to successfully win a lawsuit against the City Of Ottawa, so hey they can't be all bad right?

At any rate as the Big Show plays out in the bars, exhibition halls and field at Frank Clair some intriguing machinations are taking place inside the Renegades backrooms. Ottawa fans patiently await the resolution to the current problems and wonder aloud if the two Michigan money men might yet get another chance to run the Capital's CFL franchise!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

A Nation shamed!

There are many good qualities about the fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the much vaunted Rider Nation. However, in one pointless act of immaturity, stupidity and wanton disregard for one’s privacy the Rider Nation today isn’t quite as boastful a lot. After Sunday’s shocking loss to the BC Lions in Vancouver, some intelligence challenged idiots decided to toss eggs at kicker Paul McCallum’s house, make threatening phone calls to his family and in a supreme example of moronic behaviour dump manure on his lawn (only to pick the wrong lawn in their haste to show their class). Needless to say the behaviour of the idiots has gained far more mileage than all of the good deeds of Rider fans over the years. And that is a shame, for the Rider Nation normally stands for what is great about Canadian Football.

Stories of the love between Rider fan and their team are legendary, in days of yore it was said that farmers paid for their tickets with bushels of wheat legend or fact it tells the tale of affection between team and resident. The province responds year after year with fundraising events across the prairie bingos, 50/50’s, dinners and dances all send money to the Riders to retire debts, improve the team and share in the joy of Canadian football.

Rider fans can be found in every province, usually the most colourful, the loudest and generally the most fun. Somehow after Sunday night’s little bout of stupidity one senses the green shirts, pom poms and wigs have gone deep into the closet.

The Riders have responded with understandable disgust at the treatment of McCallum’s family by a small and obviously moronic bunch. McCallum’s off-season employer Sask Energy is putting together a card for the McCallum’s to show that not all Saskatchewanians have their brains locked in stupid mode. Rider management has vowed to not let the matter rest until the offenders have been punished.

The Rider Nation can take a bit of solace that more than likely the group that caused the trouble on Sunday most likely aren’t much in the way of football fans anyways. But for now they will have to take their collective lumps. No doubt most understand that it really is only a game, their team had a rather remarkable season, taking them close to the Great Canadian prize. They came up short get ready for next year!

Regina police have arrested the moron that threatened McCallum’s family, who apparently a man of no class or courage, threatened to burn the house down with McCallum’s family inside. For him if and when found guilty, time in jail will not doubt do wonders for his disposition. Providing him with ample time to reflect on how just how moronic he really was on Sunday. Threatening to kill someone is a very serious charge; sending fear into anyone’s home is something that must be addressed with the full punishment of the law applied.

For the egg throwers and manure dumpers vandalism regulations should be followed to their maximum as well. Community service and a full heart felt apology to the McCallum’s should also be provided without delay (cleaning up the property would be a nice start!).

For the Rider Nation what is needed is a thorough examination of the extent of fanaticism in their group. The Nation has brought a lot of joy to the CFL over the years, fighting against the odds to succeed, living and dying with their team through thick and thin. They obviously would have neither truck nor trade with the likes of the idiots of Sunday night, but they do have to guard against that kind of mind set among their own.

It’s unfortunate that the behaviour of a miniscule number has tarnished the reputation of a majority of great football fans. Perhaps the Rider Nation will take time to reassure the McCallum’s that while disappointed in the loss they hold neither malice nor responsibility to the man or his family. The beauty of Saskatchewan has always been its ability to pull together in times of struggle. For the Rider Nation it’s time to start pulling!

Lord Grey's Mug

The hoopla and news of Grey Cup Week!

20-Nov-04 Martin to watch game from Chile
20-Nov-04 The Banner year
20-Nov-04 All that's left is the football
20-Nov-04 Argos/Lions ready to do battle
20-Nov-04 Tickets, Tickets thee are no tickets!
20-Nov-04 The Commish has his plans
20-Nov-04 Bombers already planning Grey Cup 2005
20-nov-04 It's all about the kids
20-Nov-04 The party never ends
20-Nov-04 The Beauty of the League has always been the players
19-Nov-04 The faithful arrive
19-Nov-04 Walby anxious to get to work
18-Nov-04 So much to do, so little time
18-Nov-04 Tickets sold and maybe you can even sit there
18-Nov-04 No Superstition for Printers
18-Nov-04 And the winner is!
18-Nov-04 Accessibility is the Charm of the league
17-Nov-04 If you're in the neigbhourhood
17-Nov-04 Lets get this party started
17-Nov-04 Zebras on the spot for Sunday
17-Nov-04 Awards night preview
17-Nov-04 Deliver them from temptation
17-Nov-04 The Gliebermans are back!
16-Nov-04 Harper votes for the Double Blue
16-Nov-04 An advertising destination
16-Nov-04 Advertising sold out for Grey Cup Game
16-Nov-04 Hearing some buzz
16-Nov-04 Records are made to be broken
15-Nov-04 All that's missing is the home team
15-Nov-04 Someone's gonna have a hell of a BBQ
15-Nov-04 Tickets, Tickets, who needs tickets?
12-Nov-04 The Whole world is ready to watch
12-Nov-04 Showing off his city

The Roar of the Lion

We follow developments in the Lions camp
in this space for the entire Grey Cup week.

21-Nov-04 Clermont top Canadian, but not in mood for celebrating
21-Nov-04 Printers but a spectator
21-Nov-04 A roar no more this year
20-Nov-04 Dickenson or Printers?
20-Nov-04 Give Leos the edge
20-Nov-04 Doing their talking on the field
20-Nov-04 Fastest Dash may be for the airport
20-Nov-04 Feeding time nears
20-Nov-04 Clermont stands on guard
20-Nov-04 Leos to face test against Argos defence
19-Nov-04 Printers journey
18-Nov-04 O'Mahony ready for the challenge
18-Nov-04 Talking trash with the king of lip
18-Nov-04 Let Antonio have the ball
18-Nov-04 Wally thankful for his path
18-Nov-04 Printer's is the Man
17-Nov-04 Lions get back to work
17-Nov-04 Flying Air Campbell
17-Nov-04 Dueling QB's to re run in 2005
17-Nov-04 Printers to start?
17-Nov-04 Mama Crumb's dilemma
16-Nov-04 Dickenson's inspiration
16-Nov-04 Lions to test Argos Wheaton
16-Nov-04 Lions fans plan for Ottawa trip
16-Nov-04 Decisions, Decisions
16-Nov-04 Printers says he'll be ready
16-Nov-04 It's good to be Wally
16-Nov-04 Lions Can do
16-Nov-04 Thelwell at peace
16-Nov-04 Lions key is their depth
16-Nov-04 Lions quietly arrive in the Capital
15-Nov-04 The Best Game Ever!
15-Nov-04 O'Mahony the Man

Everything Argo

We track all the developments and stories of
the Argos as during Grey Cup Week.

21-Nov-04 The Family came to play21-Nov-04 The Love of a coach
21-Nov-04 A sense of respect
21-Nov-04 A brother's pride
21-Nov-04 Mr. MVP
21-Nov-04 All hail Allen
20-Nov-04 Damon's not done yet
20-nov-04 Bruce is the key
20-Nov-04 Argos ready to chase the Lions
20-Nov-04 Tough task ahead
20-Nov-04 Rison to sit out Grey Cup
19-Nov-04 Mihelic anxious to play
19-Nov-04 Double Blue Bash a hit
19-Nov-04 JC selects the Double Blue
18-Nov-04 Argos motivation tilts towards Pinball
18-Nov-04 Pinball's legend grows by the day
18-Nov-04 Hey Jude
18-Nov-04 Baker's path to redemption
18-Nov-04 Allen's final snaps?
18-Nov-04 Pinball unplugged
18-Nov-04 Prefontaine key for Argos
18-Nov-04 Cashing in on the buzz
17-Nov-04 Not your usual Agros
17-Nov-04 Pinball wins the press conference
17-Nov-04 Stubler's option
17-nov-04 Do the Argos really want to win?
17-Nov-04 A special time for Allen
17-Nov-04 Prefontaine's perspective
17-Nov-04 An Argo voice of the past
17-Nov-04 Clemon's deflects the historical angle
17-Nov-04 Pinball stays out of the bedroom
16-Nov-04 Ageless Allen still the key
16-Nov-04 Allen all fired up
16-Nov-04 New owners on Cloud 9
16-Nov-04 Argo success still sinking in
16-Nov-04 Argos not talking trash
16-Nov-04 Damon has some memories
16-Nov-04 Pinball has the answer for Buono
16-Nov-04 Pinball a big picture kind of guy
16-Nov-04 Avery's unfinished business
16-nov-04 McGuinty eyes BC Beef
16-Nov-04 Room for all on the Argo bandwagon
15-Nov-04 Lock up the family, the Argo fans are coming
15-Nov-04 Argos rule the Eastern waves
15-nov-04 Third time lucky

A Crushing Blow

Montréalers aren’t used to losing in the Eastern final, less than 24 hours after their Alouettes were eliminated from the Grey Cup derby the fifth quarter commentators were being heard from. From an Unprepared Back up to a coach who is to stubborn to change his battle plans, the Alouette’s faithful digested the horror of losing to the Argonauts.

The Als season ended as surely as Anthony Calvillo’s shoulder suddenly stopped working in the third quarter. Crushed to the ground a telltale “pop” signalled the end of the Alouettes bid to return to the Grey Cup and some unfinished business.

With Calvillo trundling off to the Alouette dressing room for some pain relief, the assembled 51,000 quickly began to realize that despite the best record in the CFL this year, the season was about to come to a sudden end. With the generally untested Ted White in the line up the Als could not generate enough offence to lay claim to the Eastern title. With the clock ticking down in the fourth the Argos would find themselves 26-18 victors and making plans to inflict more Torontonians on the fine people of Ottawa. Somehow you get the feeling that Damon Allen relishes the chance to meet his old team mates in a winner takes all Championship game. Discarded by the Lions when Dave Dickenson became available the old warhorse Allen is ready to leave it all on the field next Sunday.

For Pinball Clemons the win finally puts him into the Grey Cup as a head coach, taking his team from bankruptcy a year ago to a bankable franchise 365 days later it’s a story that gives all CFL fans a reason to cheer. Universally respected by all football people across the country, Clemons is the embodiment of the players coach, you really do get the feeling that his players would do whatever they had to for their coach. Fortunately Pinball uses his powers for good and not evil.

Back in Montreal the role of Dr. Evil will be played by Don Matthews, who has consistently built up powerful Montreal teams only to see things go awry late in the season. Last year it was a loss to the Eskimos in the Grey Cup, this year an early exit at the hands of Toronto. This will make for a long season for the Don, never one to be on the best of terms with the media he will be under the glare of their spotlight for a longer period this time.

The Toronto win is certainly a win for the league, a reward for the new ownership and a major chance to recapture the vital Southern Ontario market. Their talking football in Toronto again, the Argo buzz getting louder day by day. The team a collection of players dedicated to their coach and starting to realize they’re sitting at the start of what could be great run in the city.

The match up next week should bring yet another great sixty minutes of football to the nations television sets, the 51,000 gathered at Frank Clair to see two teams hungry to prove to their fans that their affections are warranted.

Two of the most popular coaches in the league, two teams that have been battling back from the big city apathy that plagued them the last few seasons. And most importantly two teams that match up well on the field. For the CFL it couldn’t be a better marquee match up, the two largest markets possible for the Grey Cup, two teams with lots of drama on their own sidelines to keep the writers busy all week.

For a league that has put out more than its fair share of fires, this should be one of the most rewarding Grey Cup weeks in a long time. The attendance has been magnificent, the TV ratings astounding and the product on the field never better. Most importantly this week all the talk will be about football, the teams, the coaches and the players. No floundering franchises threatening to expire at midnight, no nightmarish stories of bouncing cheques.

Instead we’ll hear about QB controversies, coaching strategies, player match ups, special team preparations and who is favoured to take home Lord Grey’s mug. It’s been a long time coming, but the CFL sees a lot of open field now, the goal line is just in sight and those goalposts aren’t moving. Bring on the fans and bring on the Football, its Grey Cup week and the league looks pretty good right now!

Monday, November 15, 2004

From Moosimin to Moose Jaw it’s the one that got away! From Fort St. John to Port Alberni they’re talking about a Cup that’s Grey!

The best advertising a league could provide has to be the way the CFL looks at Sunday’s western final. The Lions and the Riders battled like heavyweights throughout the sixty plus minutes of the Western final, a lead changing hands five times, big plays and big mistakes the tale of this wild finale for the Western division.

And while a field goal kicker has been given the goats horns for a missed field goal, there is probably more than enough blame to go around. The Green Riders had the chance to put this final away (or as close as you ever get to away in a Western final) when Kenton Keith fumbled on the Lions five yard line. Seven points slipping away, a penalty call nullified another Saskatchewan touchdown on a Henry Burris pass, seven more points gone, gone, gone. And while we don’t want to pile on Paul McCallum, he certainly has had better days kicking field goals.

Perhaps GM Roy Shivers will review the tape and reassess his harsh criticism of McCallum, when in the heat of the post game disappointment he singled out McCallum as the reason for the loss. The Rider Nation may share in that decision, but on the whole McCallum can make some room on the guilt bench. One hopes they’ve run out of manure in Saskatchewan, or at least sobered up enough to leave the game behind. There are a few acres of hurt on the flatlands today, as the Green Riders and their legion of fans came oh so close, only to let a shot at the Grey Cup slip away, bouncing on the five yard line or drifting wide left. Once again it will be next year country in Saskatchewan.

Then there’s the never say die BC Lions, a team that seems to make last minute comebacks part of the game plan each week. The finish was a sense of Déjà vu for the Leos who are getting used to snatching victory from jaws of teams in Green. Starting QB Casey Printers was struggling in the first half of the final, gaining some yardage but not finishing the deal finding the end zone to be an elusive place to put a football. Just as the CBC commentators were getting ready to banish him to the sidelines he caught fire, leading the Lions down the field in a major offensive.

With Printers finally hitting his stride, the Lions began to roll up the yardage and make the plays that the 55,000 plus had come to expect game in and game out this year. Hardly breaking a stride they picked up the pace when Printers was forced to the sidelines in a huge hit, Dave Dickenson hardly a back up QB stepped in and promptly completed five consecutive receptions taking the Lions downfield once again and into the end zone. He then led the Leos down the field again, setting up the tying field goal with six seconds to go a 47 yard boot by O'Mahony.

A 24-24 tie game after sixty, the unusual CFL Overtime project once again got a look see. With a game like this one would have preferred that they treat the play like another quarter, a kick-off, chance to use the punt and such. But instead the three downs till you score plan was in place and looking good for Saskatchewan as they marched the ball down to the eighteen yard line, leaving the ball a little off the line for McCallum but surely an easy chip shot? As the fates will write a chip shot it was not, drifting wide for a single and leaving McCallum flat on the field to ponder the wisdom of keeping his off season job with Saskatchewan Hydro. The Leos took advantage of their stumbled upon fortune, taking the ball down to the Saskatchewan end of the field setting up Duncan O’Mahony’s 40 yard kick to win the game 27-25 and send the Leos packing for Ottawa and the Rider nation simply packing.

The game will be one of those that people talk about for years, the BC Place attendance suddenly 100,000 instead of 55,000 as countless thousands recount the day they think they were there. In Saskatchewan they’ll be talking as well, frustrated words that show the depth of the respect the Riders have in that province. Perhaps the Rider Nation deserved a better fate Sunday, but if any province is used to the concept of fate, chance and luck its Saskatchewan. They’ll be back, both players and fans because in Saskatchewan it’s much more than just a game, it’s a way of life.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Déjà vu all over again

Championship Sunday is going to bring back some memories of the halcyon days of Canadian football. With two highly anticipated matchups in two of the nations largest cities, the attendance for Sundays Eastern and Western Final will easily top the 100,000 mark.

The early game featuring the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the BC Lions kicks off at 1 pm PST (4pm EST) and will see nearly 60,000 fans packing BC Place for the first time since 1994’s Grey Cup Game. The buzz about the Lions and the attraction of the Roughriders has made this Sunday’s game the hot ticket of the year in BC. Ticket brokers are reportedly asking for double the face value of a ticket such is the demand for ducats for the Western Showdown. Some of that demand is coming from the amazingly loyal Saskatchewan Rider nation, who are making the pilgrimage to Vancouver in record numbers.

Back east the Alouettes and the Argos take to the field at 7 pm EST (4 pm PST) and it’s expected more than 50,000 will once again renew their acquaintances with the Big O, Alouette officials suspect that the late start for the game so as to give it prime time TV exposure will cost them a few seats in the stands as folks from Quebec City, Shawinigan, Trois Rivieres, Sherbrooke and points east and west choose to stay home and not make the four to five hour trek to Canada’s second largest city. Regardless, even with that minor shortfall it will prove to be a splendid day for football in Canada. And a most rewarding sight for Commissioner Tom Wright who has watched attendance and ratings climb this year as Canadians rediscover the gem that is the CFL.

The success at the gate this year has proven to be an exclamation point on an amazing rebirth for the league and a chance for Canadians to renew their affection for three down football with all its glory of the past.

Two solid matchups, four excellent teams, packed stadiums and over six hours for the CBC to make some money broadcasting a long standing Canadian tradition.

Best of all for the CFL it will prove to be just the appetizer for next weeks Grey Cup from Ottawa. No matter which of these teams advance, it’s a no lose situation for the CFL. Their three largest markets all have a chance to represent their cities for the right to compete for Lord Grey’s mug and the fourth is the team of all Canada.

Next Sunday another 50,000 or so will jam Frank Clair Stadium to take part in Canada’s longest running National festival. Canadians will sit down from coast to coast next Sunday and in the millions will watch East meet West, rebuilding upon a ritual that once defined Canadians very core. And now others are starting to notice that Canadian football is a most entertaining product! Hundreds of millions more around the world will have the chance to watch it on television from England to Saudi Arabia and points beyond.

Not bad for a league many said was on its last legs a short six or seven years ago. It’s been said that Canadian Football must be a truly great game to survive its various perils over the years. An Amazing season is carrying through right into the playoffs and leading us to the Grey Cup. Finally this frequently dismissed game is receiving some of the respect it so richly deserves.

Rebirth on the Pacific

Much has been made of the turn around on the field by the BC Lions, a stable coaching situation and a bounty of quarterbacks seems to have made the Lions the team on the rise in the West if not in the entire CFL.

But there has been more to the success of the Leos than just the on field performance, in the background where the day to day franchise rebuilding has taken place is a former waterboy, Bob Ackles. Returning to the Lions three years ago Ackles began the process of returning the Lions to their former place of honour in Vancouver's sporting circles.

There must have been many days it must have seemed like a lost cause, sparse attendance, rundown facilities and a general malaise about the team in the province, gave Ackles a larger challenge than he may have wished to take on. But tackle it he did and Sunday afternoon somewhere between 55,000 and 60,000 fans will trek down to BC Place to restore the Roar! A sure sign that Ackles has put the team back on the right course with the BC sports fan!

The Vancouver Sun's Gary Mason provides this fascinating profile of the Lions Go To and Can Do man. From a team barely mentioned above a whisper a few years ago, the Lions have become THE TEAM of the town this year and with an exciting never say die kind of spirit they may find many of their new found friends back again in May of next year, ready to roar when a Grey Cup Banner is raised to the top of BC Place. When it comes time to take some bows, the guy at the front of the line should be the Old Lion himself Bobby Ackles!

Friday, November 12, 2004

Lapointe to carry the Load

Sunday night’s Alouette/Argo clash will see Eric Lapointe set up on his own in the Alouette backfield. The pride of Montreal by way of Mt. Alison University, will finally have reached that rare place of honour for Canadian running backs, the main carrier of the mail in a winner take all game.

In a league that more often than not gives it’s running back spots over to highly prized and anticipated imports, Montreal has slowly developed Lapointe to the point where head coach Don Matthews will call his number out for the starting assignment in the Eastern Division final.

Lapointe has always been just on the verge of success, only to have injury send him back a few steps. He passed through, Edmonton, Hamilton and Toronto before finally landing in Montreal ironically back to the coach who first put him through his paces. Don Matthews watched Lapointe in the Eskimo training camp of 1999, but released him then as he “didn’t fit into the Eskimo plans”, interestingly enough Matthews would suffer the same fate with the Eskimos shortly thereafter.

Lapointe picked himself up, dusted himself off and landed in Hamilton as a free agent. From there it was on to Toronto and then Montreal where he has remained. Replacing Autry Denson in the Als backfield for the Eastern Final, this very well may be Lapointe’s best chance to finally establish himself as a premier CFL back.

One person who thinks that Matthews is on the right track is someone that will have to try and stop Lapointe’s run on Sunday. Argo defensive coordinator Rich Stubler describes Lapointe as the Als best back. He’ll no doubt be trying his best to make sure that Lapointe’s step into the spotlight features lots of shades of double blue.

It’s going to be a heck of a coming out party for the native of Montreal, 50,000 fans in the stands and a huge prime time TV audience following every run. So far Lapointe has met every challenge; Sunday night should not be any different!

Higgins ties the can; Hughie kicks it down the road!

Was he pushed, or did he jump. Whatever the real story may be, the reality is that the Edmonton Eskimos once again are looking for a head coach, from Jackie Parker, to Ron Lancaster, through Don Matthews and now Higgins, failure can bring out the Green and Gold executioner, then again even succeeding doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of job security.

Higgins’s downfall was a misguided fake punt that turned into seven Saskatchewan points and the dismissal of the Eskimos from further playoff contention. Everyone seems to be saying that the “play” had no bearing on events, but absolutely no one is buying that brand of soap. Campbell was stressing that Tom had decided to quit, Tom himself said as much in his post resignation press conference. Higgins was apparently allowed to spin events as he wished, as long as the football fans of Edmonton were relieved of their ornery mood which had been festering since Sunday’s stunner.

From the sound of the final gun media observers and more importantly season ticket holding fans were clamouring about the lack of offence, the poor play of the special teams and of course about the “fake punt”. Indeed the end for Higgins probably came shortly after the game, when during press scrums far too many of his players expressed surprise and disappointment in the fake punt call, indirectly suggesting that they had lost faith in their coach, a sure fire way to find your coach down at Canada Employment first thing in the morning.

Probably realizing that the knives were out for him, Higgins chose his own blindfold and last meal, ending his four year coaching tour prior to that he had served as assistant GM in the Eskimo organization and nine years before that with the Stampeders. Higgins assumed the Eskimo coaching job, when Don Matthews was mysteriously dismissed as Eskies head coach by Campbell. One suspects that a card of condolence won’t be in the mail from Matthews. In that time Higgins had a rather decent record including last years Grey cup victory, but all of those accomplishments carried no weight with the increasingly annoyed fans who consider nothing short of a Grey Cup parade down Jasper Avenue to be a failed season.

The position is now open and resume are being accepted, inside track might go to Eskimo offensive co-ordinator Danny Maciocia or Defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall. The trademark of the Higgins era was that he would let his assitant coaches do the coaching. In the strange world of pro football the designer of the offence that sputtered (and possibly cost Higgins his job) may be the best candidate to appear on the top of the pile.

Perhaps a general aptitude test might help Campbell out to find just the right candidate. First question should be a multiple choice one, Q- You have a third down situation in your own end, you a) run Pringle up the middle, b) toss long to Ed Hervey, c) punt the ball as far down the field as the wind will let you d) run a high risk fake punt and pass play that will come up short!

If choosing D please put down your pencil and turn your page over, the exam is now over!

Both Maciocia and Marshall were recommended by Higgins to his former boss. The only question is do they want the job, considering the risks of coaching in Edmonton and being made subject to the short term memory loss of the fans who hold so much influence!

Monday, November 08, 2004

The only numbers that count are those on the scoreboard!

It was all Henry Burris could dream of a return to the playoffs in the CFL as he led his Saskatchewan Roughriders across the frozen plain of Commonwealth Stadium; Burris threw for two touchdowns as the Green Giants claimed the right to challenge BC for the Western Division title next Sunday.

In a low scoring affair that seemed to take a long time to get untracked, the Riders put fourteen points on the board, more than enough to move on in the CFL West and continue their quest for a berth in the Grey Cup in two weeks.

Close to 37,500 fans sat in the snow and wind of Commonwealth watching two team’s batter each other to the frozen turf time and time again. A defensive battle for most of the first half, the momentum first began to shift after a questionable play by the Esks in the waning minutes of the second quarter. Edmonton’s kicker Sean Fleming faked a third down punt and tossed a ball just out of the reach of Mike Bradley. The turnover on downs was turned around into a touchdown strike and seven points that the Eskies never got back, going on to lose 14-6 to the lads from Regina.

Tom Higgins took the heat for the controversial call and uttered some famous words that will probably become his epitaph in Green and Gold “when it works its great, when it doesn’t work it falls on my shoulders”. A high risk move like that early in the game ended up costing his team a trip to Vancouver, Eskimo fans will be lighting up the open line shows for weeks with comments on that move. He may also find a bit of heated discussion on a late game decision to punt rather than attempt a field goal to take the lead, though to be fair the swirling wind was playing havoc with the kicking game all day long, so perhaps that was a wise if disrespected call. Regardless with the loss will come change in the land of Green and Gold as loyal Eskimo fans won't sit still to a near miss of the playoffs and then an early exit from them.

The game resumed its struggle in the second half, the Eskimos amassing huge amounts of yardage, mostly in the sure hands of Ed Hervey, yet never found the way to the endzone to capitalize on their ball control and field position. The Eskies completed 33 of 38 passes for 351 yards yet never could break over the goal line; all of their scoring came off the foot of Sean Fleming. The Eskies ran up close to 400 yards of total offence and only could come up with 6 points.

Saskatchewan used Kenton Keith in the run and in the pass to move the ball down the field, Keith scoring the second touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter with reception in which he just barely got his feet down in the endzone, but perhaps justice as he was denied an explosive touchdown run just minutes before in a questionable out of bounds call by the officials. Keith controlled the running game as he carried seventeen times for 97 yards, crashing through the Eskimo line at will in the late stages of the game.

The Riders defence palyed huge, keeping Jason Maas on his toes with frequent incursions in the Eskimo backfield, resulting in 49 yards in losses through the afternoon. David Benefield had a particularly impressive day at the office in Rider Green.

Having knocked off the Defending Grey Cup champs the Riders now prepare for a return engagement in Vancouver to take on the first place Lions at BC Place. Last week the Riders lost a chance to host the Western semi final with a last minute loss to the Lions, expect that to be among some of the motivation for the Riders as they prepare for the Western final.

At the start of the season many CFL observers had the Green Giants pegged to represent the West in Ottawa at the Grey Cup. A Few stumbles during the regular season quieted that kind of talk, but the last six weeks of Rider football have the homefolk thinking big again. One hurdle has been jumped and now another is quickly approaching as Danny Barrett prepares to lead his team to BC. Saskatchewan should give the Lions all that they can handle in the Western Final; setting up what should be a most entertaining battle to represent the West in the Grey Cup in two weeks.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Boatmen chart course for up the St. Lawrence

The Argos are packed and ready for the trip to Montreal. With a convincing 24-6 victory over the Hamilton Tiger Cats, Pinball Clemons can claim vindication for his decision of seven days earlier to rest his players for the “big game”.

The Argos were fully dominant over the Cats in Friday night’s 24-6 victory helped out by dedicated attempt by the Cats to put themselves in the hole frequently. The Tiger Cats were their own worst enemy on Friday night, taking far too many penalties at the wrong time. Bringing back key plays and giving up valuable field position throughout the Eastern semi final contest.

The Argos responded well to the largest crowd in Skydome for many years as the two teams provided hard nosed, smash mouth football to entertain the almost 38,000 in attendance. Great defence, special team achievements and points when required set the tone for the game. The Cats did not score their points until the very late stages, avoiding the fate of being shut out in the Eastern semi final.

The Argo defence boxed in Danny McManus nicely sacking him twice, rushing his passes frequently and intercepting him twice, one from Kenny Wheaton that went back for a CFL playoff record return of 116 yards for a touchdown. That TD, effectively closed the season for the Cats with a huge exclamation point. Marcus Brady then entered the game for the final three minutes and engineered the drive that broke the goose egg keeping the Cats away from trivia time answers for this season at any rate.

Noel Prefontaine was a one man wrecking crew for the Argos, pinning the Ti Cats deep in their own end time after time, and leaving them with little to know field position. He also converted two touchdowns, kicked three of four field goals and even punted a single for good measure accounting for half of the Argo offensive output in the defensive struggle.

Described as a war by Damon Allen, the Argos managed to turn back the crushing Tiger Cat defence at key times to keep possession of the ball and set up the Prefontaine kicks. There was much extra curricular pushing and shoving as the two long time rivals refused to back down even after the whistle had gone. In fact it was some of that extra curricular animosity that put the Ti Cats into a hole from which they eventually could not get out of.

In the end the game ended up as most thought it would, the Argos advancing and the Ti Cats celebrating what has actually been a remarkable season that came up just a little bit short. Greg Marshall can’t be too distraught over the result, his team played it’s traditional hard hitting style of ball, but offensively they couldn’t move the ball and that cost them in the end. But it certainly gives them a solid foundation to build on for next year. Having rebuilt their fan base, they will be expected to improve even more next year and challenge even further into the playoffs. With a possible sea change in the CFL East next year as Montreal and Toronto get older, the Cats can look back fondly on 2004 and with great anticipation for 2005!

Off the field, the win helps to continue the path of rebuilding launched by its new local owners, the huge crowd and renewed interest a wonderful trend for the two locals who took a chance on a Canadian tradition. The successful season can keep going for a couple of weeks, should the Argonauts keep up their momentum. For the Argos there is much work to do, the Alouettes will be facing them for the third consecutive Eastern final in Montreal in front of a huge, loud and intimidating Big O crowd. The Als have had the Argos number the last few years, Pinball will have to hope that his players are prepared to leave it all on the field next Sunday afternoon.

It’s a much anticipated match up that brings two of the largest CFL markets into a winner take all game to advance to the Grey Cup. The CBC ad reps must be thanking their lucky stars for a match up like that, in addition to the Saskatchewan/BC match up in the evening, the day should be guaranteed to bring huge numbers to the network and show just how far from the brink the CFL has come in a very short period of time.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Ego thy name is Rison!

Well there you go; the Toronto Argonauts apparently don’t appreciate the talents of one Andre Rison. Rison, who has been attempting a return to football through the offices of the double blue, has been benched for tonight’s Eastern semi-final match up between the Argos and the Ti-Cats.

And that’s not sitting well with the self described “greatest receiver in the world”; Rison compares his benching to the concept of the Chicago Bulls sitting down Michael Jordan during an NBA championship!

The benching of Rison signals a crossroads for the mercurial receiver, who insists that he will still play football next year, somewhere. Rison is willing to tell anyone who asks and even those that don’t, that he’s still got the chops to excel at the pro game.

For now he’s upset, but doesn’t want to become the story, yet has now done just that.

Whether the sideshow atmosphere affects the Argos as they head into their most important game of the season will be interesting to see. Distractions they don't need as they prepare to make a run for the Frey Cup. The Tiger Cats will no doubt hope that Hurricane Andre will blow through the dressing room just before game time, leaving nothing but open field in its wake!

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Ricky Ray ready to return?

The Fan in Toronto had former CFL star Ricky Ray on the air with Chuck Swirsky on Monday for a wide ranging discussion on football and Ray's current status in the NFL. If you're a CFL General Manager it might be worth your while to get his agent on speed dial and your bean counters into the office as there might be something to track here! Ray sounded very much like a kid at summer camp longing to come home, his voice expressing a sense of disappointment with his current situation in pro foootball.

With the New York Jets rather deep at the Quarterback position these days, not to mention winning quite handily as well, Ray has found himself relegated to the clip board squad. Basically being used as a practice roster body, Ray gave some less than subtle hints that he wouldn't necessarilly be against a return to the CFL and a chance to get some playing time in real game situatiions.

The former Edmonton Eskimo pivot has had an educational if somewhat limiting experience in New York, feels he has fine tuned his game off the field but would definitely like to get back to the days of running an offence for real and leading his team on to a championship. He made some interesting observations about the differences between the CFL and NFL game and seems to have made the best of his non playing moments in the Jets camp.

But players want to play and Ray sounds very much like a frustrated fellow, realizing that the Jets won't be calling him onto the field short of a disaster in the ranks. He doesn't sound like someone inclined to spend two or three years carrying clipboards and running the alternate offence in practice. Which may be good news for CFL fans, as his exciting brand of football certainly caught the imagination of the country in last years Eskimo march to the Grey Cup.

It's a bit early yet, but he's thinking about his future but the signs are not to far from the surface. You never know, Ricky Ray may be making a run to the border come next May!

November Quotables

Recounting the great quotes of November in the CFL!

1-Nov-04 "I want to beat Hamilton every time I play them"
2-Nov-04 "Now is the time for Jason Maas"
3-Nov-04 "shotgun"
4-Nov-04 "I am what I am"
5-Nov-04 "I was willing to bide my tme"
6-Nov-04 It was a war out there
7-Nov-04 "That was my call, when it works, it's great, when it doesn't work it falls on my shoulders"
8-Nov-04 "Football is a game of opportunities. The team that takes advantage of theirs wins"
9-Nov-04 "We’re due, period. You could say that we're overdue"
10-Nov-04 "Tom is a first rate person who has served the Eskimos with dedication and class for 11 years."
11-Nov-04 "We're not going to hear too many boos"
12-Nov-04 "Noise matters"
13-Nov-04 "hopefully we can all put it together on the field"
14-Nov-04 "they all come out here to retire"
15-Nov-04 "You can't put it in Paul's hands"
16-Nov-04 "The CFL is a great league, I watch it every week"
17-Nov-04 "Pinball was right, he's here"

November remembrances

Recapping the Opening kick off entries for November!

1-Nov-04 Tillman free to talk
1-Nov-04 Ready to make some noise in Edmonton
1-Nov-04 Pinball sticks to his guns
2-Nov-04 Speaking out for Pinball
2-Nov-04 Coe loves Cowtown
2-Nov-04 Paopao plays the waiting game
3-Nov-04 Tillman's toast? Obie on the way?
3-Nov-04 Eskie's snubbed at all star time
3-Nov-04 Jason Maas to shake a ghost
4-Nov-04 Risin' sittin!
4-Nov-04 They were many things, but the owners say they weren't cheap!
4-Nov-04 BC's triad of talent
5-Nov-04 Saving souls one sack at a time
5-Nov-04 Holmes is on the case
5-Nov-04 Bulletin board material
6-Nov-04 Is this the year of reversing curses?
6-Nov-04 Cats saw their enemy and it was them
6-Nov-04 Enough of the talk, talk time to walk the walk
7-Nov-04 Green and Gold and feeling Blue
7-Nov-04 Locals put in bid for Stampeder franchise
7-Nov-04 Attendance continues its upward trend
8-Nov-04 Higgin's in goat horns
8-Nov-04 Rider fans scramble for tickets
8-Nov-04 Als seeking their threepeat
9-Nov-04 Is his wish, Hugh's command?
9-Nov-04 The waiting game in Calgary
9-Nov-04 First things First, get first downs!
10-Nov-04 Higgin's falls on his sword
10-Nov-04 Nine years and waiting
10-Nov-04 Pringle's Farewell?
11-Nov-04 Stadium envy in Winnipeg
11-Nov-04 Mastermind of the Montreal ritual
11-Nov-04 Silence is Golden, or at least Grey
12-Nov-04 What more must AC do?
12-Nov-04 Many Burris backers in green
12-Nov-04 Preparing to report from Pa-a-a-a-a-rty Central
13-Nov-04 A tale of two coaches
13-Nov-04 Withdrawl Alberta style
13-Nov-04 Big Blue Boosters have their say
14-Nov-04 The costliest "pop"
14-Nov-04 Roaring on to Ottawa
14-Nov-04 Breaking records in the stands
15-Nov-04 Special teams lead the way
15-Nov-04 Bruce Back for unfinished business
15-Nov-04 Rider Nation ashamed of fool
16-Nov-04 Damon returns to Ottawa
16-Nov-04 Argos in the spotlight
16-Nov-04 The cursed franchise?
17-Nov-04 Printers is primed
17-Nov-04 Burris gets a consolation prize
17-Nov-04 Stamps sale on the horizon?