Saturday, July 30, 2005

Rens on a Roll

The Ottawa Renegades are starting to make believers among the CFL aficionado, the Rens who got off to a horrible start Friday night, turned things around in the second half and took two points out of Taylor Field, something that hasn't happened for an Ottawa football club for a number of years.

Korey Banks made a timely interception as time was winding down in the first half to deny the Roughriders a touchdown, setting the stage for the Ottawa comeback of the second half. A frustrated Rider team went into the dressing room at half time in complete control of the football game in every facet but the scoreboard. Ball control the Riders ruled, yards gained the Riders dominated, score on the board well seven points does not a steamroller make.

The Renegades came out in the second half and turned on their offence and got things in gear, helped along by a number of Saskatchewan miscues the Renegades began to put some points on the board. Kerry Joseph put the Rens first TD on the board with a 20 yard run to take an 11-9 lead, that was expanded to 18-9 with a remarkable interception return that featured a lateral from Anthony Collier to Kyries Hebert who took the ball into the endzone for the major.

Marcus Crandell replaced the frustrated Nealon Greene in the fourth quarter and took the Rider downfield for a touchdown as the clock was winding down, but in the end the Riders came up a tad short as the Renegades took the victory 21-16.

The game was very much lost by Saskatchewan who seemed to find different ways to give the ball away or blow key drives all night long. Last week an irate Danny Barrett cancelled the Riders day off and sent them back to the basics in practice. It would appear the lessons were lost and the Riders can expect more of the same as August gets under way. For the Rens a 3-3 record keeps them high in the hunt in the CFL East as they continue to find ways to win key games. The Rens sit tied for first place in the Eastern Division with the Toronto Argonauts, a situation not many would have pondered at the start of the season.

It will be interesting to see if the Renegades newfound success on the field will finally translate into some increased attendance at Frank Clair Stadium. The Renegades are showing that they play for the whole sixty minutes, it would be nice to see some more fans show up to go for the ride!

Friday, July 29, 2005

.500 not charted territory for Montreal

The Montreal Alouettes don't know what to make of this, for the first time since 1996 they sport only a .500 record five weeks into a CFL season. The Als who are used to dominating the competition in the regular season have sputtered so far this season, surprising (for Als fans anyways) losses to Ottawa and Winnipeg and a close call to the Ti Cats have the Als faithful wondering if the wonder years may be done.

Thursday night Damon Allen brought his injury riddled Argonaut squad into Molson stadium and took the first regular season win for a Toronto team in Montreal in five years. Allen threw for four touchdown passes on the way to the Argos 36-24 victory over the Als. Tony Miles, John Avery, Robert Baker and Byron Parker stepped over the goal line after an Allen pass as the Argos took sole possession of the CFL's east with the win.

The Als attempted a rally of sorts in the fourth quarter as running back Eric Lapointe took the ball into the endzone for the Als first TD of the game, shortly after that Lapointe would leave the game with a suspected hamstring injury. Injuries continued to take their toll on the Als through the game, defensively Darren Crutchfield left the field injured as did Reggie Durden giving Don Matthews cause to scramble to fill positions late in the game.

While no one is panicking yet in Montreal, the locals are not used to their team having to struggle early on in a season, normally the Als have a playoff spot sewn up by the Labour Day weekend and spend the last half of the season re-tooling, the way things seem to be going this year they'll be scratching and clawing their way for a playoff spot all season long.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Khari joins the Cats

Five weeks into the new CFL season and Khari Jones finally has a place to rest his helmet. The one time CFL star who had his most memorable years as a Blue Bomber signed on with the Hamilton Tiger Cats on Tuesday, as the struggling 0-4 Cats try to spark a fire under their under performing squad.

Jones became the odd man out in Edmonton this year when Ricky Ray returned to the CFL and Edmonton chose to keep the Ray/Maas tandem that led them to a Grey Cup a few years ago. So Khari packed his bags and headed back home to Calgary, to regroup, watch some football on TV and wait for a phone call.

It really was only a matter of time before he landed another job on a CFL roster, his knowledge of the Canadian game, rifle of an arm and intelligent approach to each game was bound to place him on a roster sooner or later. Rumours of a return to Winnipeg or a trip to Montreal to back up Anthony Calvillo were early favoured possibilities, especially with the horrendous Blue Bomber start and memories of last years playoff disaster in Montreal. But in the end it was the Tiger Cats who made the call, bringing Jones into camp on Tuesday.

It's expected that with the Jones signing, Marcus Brady will find himself looking for a new job shortly. For the time being it's understood that Jones will be backing up incumbent Danny McManus who has been bedeviled by receivers with the dropsies all season long. A situation many observers point out won't change with a new QB. However, as the Cats have struggle so far this season the fans at Ivor Wynne have grown impatient, a few more negative returns in the standings may find Jones starting a game sooner than everyone expects.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

He'll stay Wright where he is!

The guessing game is over for another year as CFL Commissioner Tom Wright, signed on for a one year extension to his contract. Having presided over a rather unusual bout of stability for the normally stormy league, Wright chose to accept the terms offered and stay on the job for a little while longer. With his contract set to expire with this years Grey Cup game in Vancouver, Wright decided that he'd like to continue his work on through the 2006 season.

The terms were not particularly as Wright may have wished for, he basically has taken on his job for another year without an increase in pay. But at a reported 400,000 dollars a year it's not like he's going to be selling off old autographed footballs to get by.

Three teams are reported to have been against a longer term deal (originally Wright wanted a two year deal and a pay raise) and that will give him cause for thought. As it stands at the moment 1/3 of his owners group aren't showing complete support for his efforts. Rumored to be Montreal, BC and Hamilton it will be interesting to watch how Wright handles the three malcontents over the next two years. He has big plans he'd like to put in place and enforceable salary cap and expansion eastward with a fifth franchise for the East division. The nine CFL owners rarely can agree on what to have for lunch, so it will take all of his diplomacy to get everyone on the same page on these issues and more.

Since Wright took over the television ratings have rebounded nicely, the marketing of the league seems to have finally found some success and of course troubled franchises have all been placed into the hands of those with a more progressive way of thinking.

But this being the CFL, old habits die hard and Wright can look forward to a few more battles along the way as he carries on with his duties. If nothing else it may be shrewd move by Wright to collect one more year of salary and prepare a soft landing for himself should the band of three grow to a majority of five!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Turnovers take their toll on the Ti-Cats

An inopportune Interception and some sloppy play seemed to spell doom once again for the Hamilton Tiger Cats as they dropped a 32-13 decision to the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Taylor Field Sunday.

The Riders took advantage of their chances including an amazing two man inteception return for 105 yards to seal the Ti-Cats fate. The exciting return took place late in the fourth quarter and pretty well put the exclamation point on the game as Omarr Morgan and David Bush combined to bring the ball in for a touchdown with five minutes to go. More importantly the turnover snuffed out an impressive Tiger Cat drive that had the Tabbies on the verge of cutting down the Rider lead and making a charge for the final minutes.

With the tandem touchdown the air went out of the Tiger Cats and the remaining part of the game went through the motions on the way to the Rider win. Hamilton has struggled through the early portions of the season, with Danny McManus finding himself frequently at the end of the what's wrong with..... sentences. The Cats remain winless thus far and hold down last place in the CFL East.

Saskatchewan finally rewarded coach Danny Barret with some solid play in a third quarter, which has become a period of each game that seems to cause them trouble. Third quarter collapses have caused much distress on the sidelines this year as the Riders try their best to let their opponent back into a game that should be well in hand. Sunday there never seemed to be much doubt that the Riders were going to win, but the fourth quarter stand by the Cats made things interesting until the turning point touchdown interception.

Greg Marshall must be wondering what it is he has to do get his players on the same page. The Ti-Cats return home with hopes for a win on Saturday but that won't be an easy task with the BC Lions coming to town, the Lions are firing on all cylinders this year while the Cats seem to have some serious fuel injection and transmission problems.

Saskatchewan puts their 3-1 record up for scrutiny in Calgary against the Stamps. Should the Riders keep their momentum going from Sunday's effort, their hold on first place in the West should remain strong for another seven days.

The skies parted and the lightning flashed!

Perhaps divine intervention or perhaps just a sense of a football team coming together, but under stormy skies the Ottawa Renegades convincingly dispatched the Calgary Stampeders from Frank Clair Stadium on Saturday night.

The game was delayed by about half an hour as a violent thunderstorm rumbled its way across the Ottawa Valley bringing bursts of lightning, torrents or rain and resonating thunder to Lansdowne Park. Once the players took to the field the energy from the skies seemed to be transferred to the Renegade part of the south side sidelines.

The Renegades led by Kerry Joseph controlled the bulk of the play through the game, Yo Murphy caught two touchdown passes while Josh Ranek ran the Stamps defence up and down the field for 164 yards, as the Renegades stormed their way to a 33-18 victory.

Calgary seemed to come out cold after the delay and could not control Ranek's running, nor Murphy's pass patterns. The Stamps never seemed to be capable of pulling close and continued to stumble at key points in the game. Stamps fans still wait for Henry Burris to get untracked and show some of the magic they thought was on its way before training camp. Tom Higgins was not impressed with his teams performance, stating that there was really only one good football team on the field Saturday and that team was not the Stamps. Ouch, two a days for everyone?

The win gives the Rens a .500 record and puts them into a tie for first place in the Eastern Division. But more importantly the solid play of all components gives the team some added confidence early in the season. Confidence that will gain a major test on Thursday night when the Edmonton Eskimos come into town to play the Rens.

The announced crowd on Saturday was a paltry 16,303 a signal that the team has yet to win back many of the dis-satisfied fans of the last few years. However, another solid effort like Saturdays and the solid work ethic that these Rens are showing should begin to turn those turnstiles a little quicker and a little more often as the season progresses.

This is a team that doesn't seem to have any quit, a trait that should be rewarded by football fans. The Rens are starting to hold up their end of the bargain on the field, the time has come for the Ottawa sports fan to do their part in the stands!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Squeaker for the Green and Gold

It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. That seems to be the approach i Winnipeg, but its much better to win one assumes is the credo in the Eskimo dressing room. The Eskimos handed Winnipeg its fourth loss of the season, but it really shouldn't have been. As it took a last second field goal by Sean Fleming to secure an ugly 14-12 victory for the Eskimos.

Heavily favored going into the game, the Esks came up flat and faced a rather spirited defence from the Blue as Jim Daley's team tried to turn around what so far has been a dreadful season. But once again offensive production was not there and the Bombers could not put sufficient numbers on the board to take away a win at Commonwealth Stadium

Tee Martin continued to struggle at the Bomber controls and the inability to convert a first down late in the game gave the Eskimos enough of a life to steal one away from the frustrated Blue Bomber squad. The panic button apparently hasn't been pushed yet in Winnipeg, but one wonders if Bomber GM, Lyle Bauer has one hand hovering over the control panel while the other one speed dials available quarterbacks. Would the Bombers have the courage to give Khari Jones a call and bring him back to the Peg? Would Khari want to go back? Just how long is it til those NFL camps make their first cuts? So many questions, so few answers, so few wins.

Winnipeg regroups and prepares for next weeks contest a Friday night football feature showcasing the Montreal Alouettes at CanadInn stadium. It's going to be a long week for Coach Daley, who is must be running out of ways to keep his team motivated and optimistic for game day. 0-4 is a huge hole to try and dig yourself out of in the West, a few more weeks of winless football and the entire season may be lost.

Back to the fundamentals for the bye week`

Pinball Clemons knows exactly what needs to be done over the next seven days, Football 101 for his Double Blue. The Argos made too many mistakes and did not take advantage of opportunities when they presented themselves Friday night, as they dropped a 30-22 loss to the BC Lions.

Argo QB Damon Allen put it best when he stated that the Argos simply made too many mistakes in Friday's game, a trend that has unfortunately occurred in each game so far this season. Friday night saw the Argos have a horrendous first half spotting the Lions 21 points, but then turning it around and outplaying the Lions in the second half. But the Argos would come up short in their comeback, that despite the fact the Lions tried to hand them the ball late in the fourth quarter. An Argo interception with 50 seconds to go put them on the Lions 49 yard line, however on the very next play the Argos turned the ball back over to the Leos putting a wrap on the loss.

The Leos improved their record to 3-0 on the season, impressing the 29,000 fans with their domination of the Argos. Though there are some warning signs of complacency for Leo fans, the fact that Toronto was able to battle their way back through the second half shows a bit of a concentration problem for the defence. Coming to within 8 points after trailing by 21 should not happen, especially to a team as strong as Vancouver. Wally Buono and Dave Ritchie will no doubt be focusing on that breakdown as they get ready to head for Hamilton on the 23rd.

For the Double Blue its back to the basics, controlling the ball and playing a full 60 minutes will be the focus for practice over the next week or so, the next test won't be an easy one. Toronto had best have all the bugs worked out by July 28th, they travel to Montreal, who won't show them any mercy should they continue to only play half a game.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Don't set the VCR.

For Ontario and points east football fans, there will be no need to set the VCR or PVR to record those Argo moments you may nod off on. For some unexplained reason the a check of the CFL schedule shows that a Grey Cup rematch between Toronto and BC will not be televised this Friday night. The much anticipated game between the Argos and the Leos will be strictly a radio affair, as TSN will only cover the Winnipeg - Edmonton match up with a 6:00 start in Central Canada.

No offense to the eskies and the Bombers, but somehow one thinks that the Argo-Lion rematch might provide some entertaining Friday night Football action for the CFL fan, especially considering the Blue's struggle out of the gate this year so far.

It's unknown if this was a miscue by the CFL Schedule maker, a warped CFL league office decision, a TSN decision or a BC Lions monetary decision (the Leos probably won't be saddened with the idea of the game not being available on cable or satellite systems in the Lower mainland). But for sheer marketing potential, this is a miss for both the CFL and TSN.

The two largest markets in the league take to the field and the result will be limited to the days of Fessenden. We at the Twelve don't often criticize the CFL of late, finding that most times they have been making the right calls on most issues. But in this instance a subtle shift of the broadcast choices might have been the better option.

Your best game of the weekend, should not be the one that has little to no exposure, that seems like a strange way to promote your product!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Is the CFL in danger of not getting it Wright?

CFL Commissioner Tom Wright has been given the terms of his one year extension and he should know them very well, they're the exact terms of the contract he's been serving under since taking on the job. Wright is apparently to decide this week whether he will accept the offer from the CFL's Board of Governors, but apparently there are a few who are hoping he tells the CFL to take a hike. From day one Wright has been under a microscope and in fact was almost not hired in a Grey Cup week mess that detracted from the leagues showpiece game.

Wright who has overseen a rebirth of sorts of the CFL has come under pressure from a number of sides for his desire to have an enforceable salary cap in place on all nine franchises. It seems that BC Lions owner David Braley and Montreal Alouettes owner David Wettenhall are both firmly on the side of those wishing to see the Commish vamoose.

Despite solid television numbers, increasing attendance figures and some intriguing sponsorship deals the always fractious CFL owners club continue to find ways to shoot themselves in the foot. Many of the CFL's current sponsors are suggesting they may review their investment plans with the CFL should the execution squad get ready to stand in line.

So far the only group to come out in favour of Wright retaining his job and growing with it are the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who seemed to find some time while wondering what's wrong with their club to offer up support to the embattled commish.

The rest of the six are somewhere in the middle neither overly enamored of Wright, nor really willing to put the league through another search for a Commissioner, seeing as Wright replaced Michael Lysko as Commissioner in one of the bloodier of CFL coups.

The sage editor of this Twelve Men blog, suggests that the owners group take a good hard look at their present situation and find a way to make peace with Wright and lock him up for a couple of years more. He's done a pretty impressive job of returning the league to a semblance of respectability and most of his mis-steps seem to stem from conflicting messages from the gang of nine that think they have the right to dictate their own terms of operation.

The CFL which has returned to the sports fan radar after a number of rudderless years should not do anything to mess up it's current rebirth. Dismissing Wright with the smell of interference and duplicity wafting through the air, will only highlight for fans that it may be a new wrapping, but inside maybe that old CFL mindset still exists. The gang of nine should do all they can to show that forward momentum includes Wright as commissioner, to do otherwise tempts the fickle fates that may lead them back down the same side of the mountain they just climbed!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Football's alive and well in Alberta!

With week three in the books, a quick look at the CFL attendance lists shows that if you're a true CFL fan you must live in Alberta.

Both Alberta franchises had healthy crowds for their home dates in the last three weeks.
While each have only played one game thus far, a crowd of 36,912 leads the league so far. Not too far behind are the suddenly hot Calgary Stampeders, who with new management in place are bringing the fans back to McMahon, the home opener last week attracted 34,102 of the Stamp faithful.

The former wasteland of Southern Ontario is now a solid home of CFL fans, The Ti Cats home opener pulled in 29,032 to Ivor Wynn Stadium, down the 401 the two Argo games thus far have averaged 28,465.

The contender status of the BC Lions has the fans lining up again for tickets to BC Place, with Vancouver hosting the 2005 Grey Cup the smart Leos fan is getting his season ticket packages set up for the Grey Cup tickets to come. First game in the Dome at BC Place found 27,506 fans in their seats to watch the Leos take on the Renegades, with Toronto coming in on Friday many are anticipating the upper sections to be opened to the public pushing the crowd totals towards 40,000 or more.

The prairies continue to be fertile soil for the Canadian game, both Saskatchewan and Winnipeg had decent crowds for the opening weeks of the season. Two home dates for the Bombers gave them an average crowd of 22,661, while over in Regina, Rider Pride brought 23.067 to Taylor field for the season opener.

Montreal continues to play before sell out crowds at Percival Molson stadium, the usual 20,202 suspects taking to their seats at the McGill campus to cheer on their Als. If Larry Smith could wish his upper deck dream he'd have those seats in place yesterday. The always competitive Alouettes continue to be the hot ticket in Montreal, if Smith had the room he probably could sell another 10,000 seats per game.

And then there's the Renegades, mired in an off season of controversy and absentee ownership the Rens did nothing to sell season tickets, nothing to promote the team and nothing to create a sense of event a Frank Clair stadium. With the Gliebermen boys now in charge that should change, but it may take a bit of time to woo back the already snake bitten Rens fan. Fortunately for Lonnie and Bernie the Rens appear to be far more competitive than many had suspected at the start of the season. A few more efforts like that against Montreal and BC and a few more souls than the opening night crowd of 18,889 may wander down to the best little stadium in the CFL

Three weeks in and the football has been exciting and with attendance trending upwards in most cities, it may be a rewarding year for Tom Wright and the league office. With the major rivalries of Labour Day and Thanksgiving yet to come, not to mention the final weeks of the season and the divisional semis and finals, this may be a stellar year for attendance in the CFL!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Special Deliveries rule in week three

How can Canada Post be missing out on this marketing opportunity, with special teams figuring heavily in CFL action this past weekend, there surely must be a place for Canada's Postal Service. Maybe a Special Teams player of the week award, or a year end award for Special Deliveries (Returns) might be a worthwhile adventure.

In Winnipeg special teams play resulted in the only touchdown of the game as the Calgary Stampeders topped the Blue Bombers 21-15. Nik Lewis knocked down a Jon Ryan punt taking it ten yards into the endzone, opening up the scoring at CanadInn stadium on Thursday night. Sandro DeAngelis accounted for all the remaining Stampeder points with four consecutive field goals giving him a perfect 7 for 7 record thus far in the season. Troy Westwood kicked three field goals and a single and Ryan connected for singles of his own to wrap up the Bomber scoring. For Calgary it was the first win of the new season and a sign that last years Stamps are definitely gone, of course in Winnipeg the fanbase may be wondering if the bumbling Stamps of last year somehow morphed into Blue and Gold, such is the state of Blue Bomber football early in the season.

The Special teams domination of the games continued on Friday night when TSN's Friday Night football became the Ezra Landry show, the diminutive kick return specialist in Red White and blue left the Eskies green with envy and anger at what got away from their camp. Landry who used to be an Eskimo before that evil genius Don Matthews lassoed him for his Als put on the display of the week, returning not one but two kicks for touchdowns. The first one a wide field goal attempt by Sean Fleming that was taken all the way back to the Edmonton endzone after a 125 yard return, a quick recharge during halftime and Landry was ready to roll again in the third quarter and Fleming accommodated him with a punt that Landry took back 74 yards for another touchdown. Landry's first return was a Montreal record and the fourth longest return in CFL history as he carves out a hunk of the record books for his own.

Not to be outdone, the Eskimos return specialist Tony Tompkins took his own punt return to the Montreal endzone after a 93 yard of his own, but the high stepping excitement was overshadowed as the Als eked out a 32-29 victory in the last play of the game.

We moved on to Vancouver as the BC Lions prepared to take on the Ottawa Renegades and Special teams factored into this match up as well. A rather enthusiastic Renegade squad held their own against the defending Grey Cup finalists but in the end could not match the power and drive of the Lions. Aaron Lockett took a punt 75 yards for a touchdown to add to the Lions scoring and making the third quarter a miserable experience for the Rens. In the end the Leos took control and dismissed the Renegades with a 37-29 victory, but the signs for the Renegades are all good. Kerry Joseph had another excellent outing and if his front line can ever give him just a few more seconds in the pocket on each play the Rens may not be on the short end of many more games.

Saturday night the Riders and Argos got together at Rogers Centre and special teams would not be as dominant in this one but did factor in at times, all be it in a negative facet. A breakdown on the Argos special teams led to them losing the ball on downs after taking a time out that they did not have. A blunder that led to a Saskatchewan touchdown, however with Damon Allen in control the Argos overcame the miscues and went on to defeat the Riders 27-26 in a muddled but thrilling affair.

Four games all of which somehow turned on special plays. It should make practices a lot more intense over the next few weeks. In the CFL every play can make a difference, none more so that those of the Special Teams.

Monday, July 04, 2005

The final snaps of July

The quotes that made us take notice through July, we'll track them here and keep you informed on the colourful moments of the CFL.

July 29 "Moral victories only count for so much"
July 28 "That's how it's always going to be between us"
July 26 "Dave Yule has never been a fan of the Riders when he's calling our games"
July 19 "It means I have work to do"
July 18 "a step backwards"
July 17 "I think the score was flattering for the Calgary Stampeders"
July 14 "If you're down on your money, bet on us"
July 12 "It wasn't so much what they did to us, it's what we did to ourselves"
July 10 "We just stuck together as a family"
July 8 "It's an attitude"
July 4 "My irrational actions do not reflect my love and my passion for the game."

The opening kick offs of July

We bring you the highlights of our Opening kick off feature for the month of July.

July 29 Esks face another desperate team
July 29 Winnipeg's Odd Couple
July 29 42 and still not through
July 28 Swaggering Stamps
July 28 Tough time ahead for Rens at Taylor Field
July 28 Talking momentum on Maroons Road
July 26 Khari Kat
July 26 Day to Day Bruce
July 26 Cowardly Kickers or Prescient Punters?
July 19 Wright stays his course
July 19 Joseph is ready to cash in large
July 19 Glenn good to go
July 18 Wright to decide by this week
July 18 Rens find a bird dog for the south
July 18 Stickin' with Tee
July 17 Ti-Cats get rough ride in Regina
July 17 And the Rain came down
July 17 Daley on the defensive
July 14 Avery gets an unwanted week off
July 14 Ricky Ray's comfort factor
July 14 Stamps kicker remembers his lessons
July 12 A taste for the back up!
July 12 It's the Crazy Football League
July 12 A profit for the Stampeder prophets
July 10 Commander Daley stays the course at Bomber command!
July 10 Determined, not Discouraged
July 10 Als shake off slow start
July 8 Lonely Days, Lonley Nights how can I stand up in the huddle?
July 8 Running back to South of Saskatoon
July 8 Too much time on their hands
July 4 Troublesome times for the Tabbies
July 4 The walk no player wants to make
July 4 Getting his kicks in Ottawa

An architect passes on

This doesn't have anything to do with Canadian Football really, though in a way perhaps the football stylings of Hank Stram certainly had a resemblance to some of the finer points of the Canadian game. Stram the coach best known for his days on the sidelines with the Kansas City Chiefs, passed away today at the age of 82.

Stram joined the fledgling AFL in the sixties and crafted a football team that provided many a thrilling moment as football came into its own in America. His Chiefs changed some of the dynamics of the game providing for much more offence and some stellar defensive schemes.

In 1966 Stram took his Chiefs into battle in Super Bowl I taking on the legendary Green Bay Packers, the Chiefs lost that one but gained some grudging respect from the more established NFL His 1970 Chiefs brought the AFL brand to a higher plain. by winning the Super Bowl with a convincing 23-7 victory over Minnesota in the fourth inter league championship match up, giving the upstart AFL the credibility it needed. In fact Strams teams of the late sixties were awesome machines to watch, mixing traditional football ideas with some revolutionary plans that thrilled crowds across North America.

Len Dawson the Hall of fame QB who found success with the Chiefs credited Stram with many of the innovations that we enjoy in football today. While many rightfully point to Lombardi and Landry as pillars of the NFL, one should never forget the name of Stram, a guy that brought much to the table. His foundation of skills in the sixties has carried through over forty years and the success of the NFL owes a lot to the love of the game that Stram gave game in and game out!

Just one more reason why I like Pinball Clemons!

Does this guy ever make a mistake? Faced with the vision of his receiver and place kicker going toe to toe on the Calgary sidelines from Canada Day, Michael Clemons today laid down the law and laid it down just right. During Friday's Argo-Stampeder match Argo receiver Robert Baker got into a puchup with Argo kicker Noel Prefonatine. Prefontaine and a number of other Argos had tried to corral Baker who had been in an on field altercation with Stampeder Rahim Abdullah, Baker feeling that he had been spat upon during the fracus. Prefontaine and Baker came to blows as Prefontaine spoke to Baker as he came off the field.

Clemons addressed the issue quickly and correctly when he suspended the Argo wide receiver for one game and insisted that he phone the Calgary president and apologize for his actions. Baker will also have to sit down and apologize to his fellow teammates and offer up and explanation as to the whys and wherefores to his meltdown. And in true Pinball fashion, Baker will give back to the fans, assisting minor football in Toronto this year as a volunteer.

By far it is more than most teams would ask of their players and will serve to remind Baker and all the other Argos that no player is larger than the team he plays on. It also is an example as to how important Michael Clemons is to the Argonauts and to Canadian Football. We can only hope that the Gliebermans in Ottawa start to pay attention to football the Clemons way, a lot less topless and a lot more top down, might go a long way to saving football in Ottawa. In Toronto the game is in the very capable hands of Michael Clemons.