Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Never over til it’s over…

Week two of the CFL schedule brought a few surprises, but one huge lesson, the final score is never official until the final whistle sounds.

But to start the review off there was the Ricky and Charles show, which was decidedly one, sided to the favor of Mr. Roberts. The Winnipeg Blue Bomber running back had a night to showcase the numbers as he rushed 32 times for 133 yards and one TD, to lead the Bombers onto victory over The Argos. The much watched over Ricky Williams had a rather light night as the Argos only gave him the ball eight times for 14 yards. Part of the strategy with Williams perhaps is the attention that he draws, the defence is so keyed in on his running that they double and sometimes triple fill the running holes. This of course should be leaving somebody uncovered, but on Friday the Argos couldn’t take advantage of that aspect of the Williams experience. The Bomber’s showed some good signs of progress for Coach Berry, who watched them, implode in last week’s opener against Montreal. This time they managed to carry the play through the half time and into the third and fourth quarters. The Bombers persevered to a 16-9 victory powered off the foot of Troy Westwood and the feet of Roberts. Noel Prefontaine accounted for all 9 of the Argo points, the offence sputtering as they try to adjust to a season start with Damon Allen.

Two games in and the season is already starting to seem long for the Hamilton Tiger Cats, for the second week in a row the Cats ended their sixty minutes of play without a victory, taking it on the chin 32-14 at the hands of Anthony Calvillo who completed 23 of 40 passes for 303 yards and two touchdown passes. Hamilton who have entered the 2006 season with high hopes have stumbled in their first two games, a frustrating start for Jason Maas who joined the Cats in the off season considered the missing ingredient for a Hamilton run for the Grey Cup, he’s still trying to get his footing with the Ti Cat offence. Montreal takes the week off with their next game to take place July 6th against the same Tiger Cats, who may or may not be in a better situation, they will either be 2-1 or 0-3 when they catch up with their friends from Montreal again. The Cats play Calgary this week on Thursday night, it’s still early but suddenly the Cats are heading into must win territory, if for not other reason than to build a little confidence inside that Tiger Cat dressing room and take some pressure off of head coach Greg Marshall.

Of course, a team hoping to sidetrack those plans is the Calgary Stampeders who just came off of a disappointing loss to the Edmonton Eskimos. The Stamps appeared to be ready to put the Eskimos away with a late game drive at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday night, only to see the chance slip away with a Shannon Garrett interception of a Henry Burris pass, this after the Stamps had marched down the field to put a scare into the over 40,000 in the stands. The game was filled with ebbs and flows with long drives and heart stopping action broken up by periods of sloppy play and untimely errors. Always a battle between to the two provincial rivals, it once again went down to the wire to keep everyone on the edge of their seat. The Stamps will try to rebound against Hamilton on Thursday while the Eskies will head for Winnipeg and a Canada Day match up with the Bombers.

The final game of week two was your typical barn burner finish for a CFL game as Dave Dickenson and Kerry Joseph exchanged long drives, long bombs and touchdown marches to set up a wild finish to the final game of the week. By the time the dust settled on the prairies the Lions had watched in shock as the Riders battled back to claim two points with a 32-34 victory at the newly named Mosaic Stadium. In the space of seventeen seconds, the Riders had gone from trailing to victory with 14 points in back to back fashion. Kerry Joseph began the march to victory with a pass to Jamel Richardson who took a short hitch pass from Joseph and rambled 49 yards for a touchdown, his remarkable run followed 17 seconds later by an interception and TD return by Eddie Davis. Dickenson had started this one the way he had left off at BC Place last season as he took the Lions down the field for a touchdown on their first possession. He followed that up later in the game with two more touchdown passes, but it was the running game that caused the Lions troubles as they just couldn’t generate any yardage nor control the flow of the game on the run. The win was a huge one for Danny Barrett, the Riders coach is certainly under the microscope this season as Rider fans are hoping for big things, last weeks embarrassment at BC Place didn’t do much to calm the fans down, winning the follow up game, most likely will buy him and GM Roy Shivers a bit of time as the folks in Riderville wait to see how things will shake out through the year. BC gets back to work on Friday night when the Argos come to town, a return to his former team by Argo QB Spurgen Wynn, who spent a number of years with the Leos before his one year of purgatory in Winnipeg. The Lions will be an ornery bunch having felt like they let a win get away in Regina last week, so it may not be happy reunion for Wynn and his Argos.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Results Week Two

June 25 SASKATCHEWAN 32, BC 24
June 24 EDMONTON 18, Calgary 14
June 24 MONTREAL 32, Hamilton 14
June 23 WINNIPEG 16, Toronto 9

Williams with Williams on Friday Night

TSN's latest acquisition Brian Williams will be front and center again on Friday Night football as he interviews Argo running back Ricky Williams, in what is described as a candid conversation. Williams (the Argonaut one) gives an indication of his philosophy about sport and life and the issues in the USA that brought him to an Argonaut uniform.

Previews of the interview have been put on the TSN website and are available for viewing, the Friday Night pre game show gets underway at 7:30 EST and 4:30 PST just prior to the Argonaut/Blue Bomber match from Winnipeg.

TSN added Williams to their Friday Night roster last week after he was cut loose by the CBC, Williams had signed a long term deal with CTV for their Olympic Broadcasts and the CBC decided that it would be better for all concerned if Williams took his leave sooner rather than later. His first assignment was an indepth interview with Tom Wright who is under the gun with his ownership groups over his handling of CFL issues.

His move to CTV means he's available to TSN for assignments and should fit in quite nicely with their well rounded football coverage each weekend.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Old Guns and new ones too, week one gives us lots to chew

Week One of the CFL season is safely in the books and there are a few things that seem pretty apparent right from the get go.


The BC Lions look to revisit last years climb to the far reaches of the CFL West riding the arm of Dave Dickenson who had an amazing regular season debut for the Leos at BC Place. The Lions totally destroyed the Saskatchewan Roughriders under the dome. Dickenson put together some impressive drives on the way to their 45-28 victory, the Riders picking up some points more by happenstance than by design. The much vaunted Rider defence was completely overwhelmed by the Lions, while Kerry Joseph suffered some growing pains with his new offence, which perhaps could have used Ti-Cat Corey Holmes in their backfield.

The quirky CFL schedule has the Riders and Leos meeting up three times in the first four weeks, which judging by Friday night’s performance doesn’t bode well for the Riders chances for a first place finish, and this after only a month of football!


Montreal took a half off in their match up with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, giving Bomber fans at least thirty minutes of hope to start the season off. From the opening kick off the Bombers looked like they had a Grey Cup in their sights as they marched the length of the field to pick up their first seven points of the new season. With a new head coach, a new defensive coordinator and a raft of refugees from the defunct Ottawa Renegades, the new look Bombers looked pretty good for the most part, but by the time the first half had come to an end some cracks had begun to show however, and in the second half the entire bottom dropped out for the Big Blue.

Montreal totally took over the game from the second half on, the Bombers incapable of putting yards let alone touchdowns on the stats sheets. There were far too many breakdowns on the Bomber side of the ball to keep a lead and the experience of Anthony Calvillo and his Montreal team mates showed through, once again providing an perfect example of why the Als have been the cream of the CFL east for so many years. There were many good signs for the Bombers, things to work on and no doubt they’ll get better. If coach Berry wants to stress one thing it should be that football is sixty minutes, half a game doesn’t count for much in the standings.


The Ricky Williams era in Toronto got off to a slow start as the Argos newest running back found the first half a gentle easing in period to life on the CFL battlefield. In fact it was Damon Allen who dominated the news in the first half and not in a way that he would have hoped. The veteran Argo QB was injured in his first set of downs for the double blue in 2006, a broken finger sending him to the sidelines and now out of the line up for the foreseeable future.

Spergon Wynn was thrown into the fray early on, the former BC Lion and Winnipeg Blue Bomber finally receiving the opportunity he’s been waiting for in the CFL for some five years, a chance to lead his team on to victory. It proved to be a chance he grabbed onto with both hands and took charge of. He made some sharp passes in the first half, helping to move the Argo offence into the Ti Cat side of the field. Ricky Williams would only get sporadic touches in the first half, but once the second half started Williams hit his stride.

As the second half moved along, the Argos gave the ball more and more to their new back, he powered his way through the Ti Cat line, by games end he was yards shy of the 100 yard mark and only two yards away from his first CFL touchdown. His play a preview of what CFL teams can get ready for once he’s in peak shape for the year.

The Cats had a few good signs in this game; their running game seems in fine shape with Corey Holmes and Josh Ranek, though Ranek was limited to a spectator’s status early on with an injury to his leg. Jason Maas seems to be relishing his role as starter for the Black and Yellow finding his receivers are going to come along just fine when he gets the ball to them. The only problem it seems is an age old one for Hamilton teams, too many penalties. Far too often in the game the Tabbies would find a drive snuffed out by a pointless penalty or one more chance given to the Argos when a Ti Cat defender lost his composure and took a dumb penalty. Once they get those kinks worked out the Cats should be in good shape for the rest of the year.


It wasn’t much to watch for Calgary fans in the first 45 minutes, as the Stamps and Eskies appeared to want to be watching the Oilers game with the rest of the country. The Eskimos a tad more inclined to put some points on the board, but still not put on too much of a dominating display. Ricky Ray had a decent day of it in the first half and into the third quarter, but his defensive mates left an opening for the Stamps in the fourth and they took full advantage of Edmonton’s gifts.

Things kicked in for Calgary in the fourth as they began to find their form and take the play to the Eskies Henry Burris turned it on late in the game as he took the Stamps down field in the dying moments of the game to steal away a victory from Rick Ray’s Edmonton Eskimos.

Interestingly enough it was after the Oilers telecast would have come to an end that the Stamps made their push to victory, so maybe they just wanted to wait til everyone migrated over from the CBC to TSN before they entertained the fans.

Of course if you had been sitting through the downpours and lightning shows at McMahon Stadium you might be wishing that Hank and the boys had turned it on a little earlier. It’s always a roller coaster of a ride when the two Alberta rivals match up, but this one didn’t have many sharp turns, nor deep drops until the very end.

All in all an ok debut week for the CFL, the Ricky Williams story will carry on fueled on by the endless rivalry of the Argos and Ticats. The Lions look ready to finish off what they had hoped to start last year, Calgary looks good in fifteen minutes bursts and the Bombers provided a bit of hope only to crash to earth once again.

Pretty well just another week in the life of the CFL…

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Battle of the network pre game shows

It’s a brave new world the CFL travels in these days, gone are the cheesy opening moments to a CFL game from the old days. This new CFL production on both TSN and CBC is pretty darn impressive, the last few years the competitive nature of the two networks has been showcased on their full broadcast packages.

The Friday Night brand on TSN as well as their other CFL broadcasts have become a huge success with the opening panel and the slick production values brought to the telecasts. The CBC suddenly aware of some slippage in the world of event presentation, turned their Saturday broadcast into an event on par with Hockey Night in Canada. Only the long life of the Edmonton Oilers kept the Argos and Ti Cats out of prime time this weekend, but the presentation was just as professional as last year’s successful Saturday night broadcasts.

Both TSN’s pre game show and the CBC one hour special on Saturday, brought a huge package of information for the CFL fan to devour. Both focused on the debut of Ricky Williams and both focused on the state of career health for Tom Wright as CFL Commissioner. The recently released Brian Williams has arrived at TSN part of a lend lease arrangement from CTV and yet another refugee from the Mother Corp that will no doubt come back to haunt the CBC when it comes to football presentation.

Williams looked a bit like the third wheel on a date in his TSN debut, but once they get the bugs worked out he’ll no doubt fit in seamlessly with the rest of the gang at TSN. One imagines that they must be making some good coin in advertising revenue considering the roster of announcers, analysts and other talking head types that have been brought to the football party. TSN has once again brought back Climie, Dunnigan and Schultz to torment Dave Randorf at the TSN desk.

Handing out the pay envelopes at TSN must be a rather lengthy affair judging by the amount of people involved in the game day presentation. It's a good show thouhg offering up much insight and commentary that should keep any CFL fanatic fully informed this season.

The CBC also has its panel in place, new host Elliot Friedman holding down the ringmaster duties with Tilman, Frers and Millington. Add into the mix the debut of Khari Jones on the sidelines and a rant from David Benefeld, plus a pretty cookin’ soundtrack from Linkin Park and you’ve got a high energy broadcast ready to take on the TSN guys word for word.

The play by play on both networks seems in good shape again this year as well, with TSN teaming up Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suter for the bulk of their main games, while Mark Lee and Chris Walby will be the key players on the CBC’s telecasts this year.

It’s a good sign for the CFL that both networks are dedicating such resources to their broadcasts, the fact that they’re spending money to make money bodes well for the CFL brand this year and on into the future.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Are the Lions on the market?

The story broke on Friday as the 2006 regular season of the CFL was about to get under way, David Naylor and Grant Kerr of the Globe and Mail with an inside scoop that the BC Lions have quietly been put on the market for sale.

It was a featured event on the season debut of Friday Night Football as the recently hired Brian Williams (yet another CBC refugee to find a home at TSN and CTV) slid into a spot in the pre game show with a tease for his interview with Naylor at half time.

The interview itself was a recap of the newspaper article earlier in the day, as well as with a bit of speculation as to motive. Is Braley angling for the job of Commissioner once Tom Wright is finally shown the door? Is he interested in doing for Ottawa, what he has done for BC, return a football team from the ashes of near bankruptcy to one of the showpieces of the league?

Regardless of the motive, it's an interesting story, one of the few franchises over the years that may actually bring in a significant dollar figure for an owner should he sell, mind you Braley has lost more than a few dollars over the years he nurtured the Leos back to fiscal responsibility, so it may take a few dollars to bring him back to where he started from.

As we try to read the tea leaves about where Braley and the Leos go from this point, here is the original article from the Globe and Mail.

Lions for sale, sources say
From Friday's Globe and Mail
The owner of the B.C. Lions, David Braley, has quietly put his Canadian Football League team up for sale, according to two league sources.

Braley, who brought the team out of receivership midway through the 1996 season when no one else locally was willing to step forward, is said to be seeking between $10-million and $15-million for the club. The Lions have experienced a tremendous resurgence during the past four seasons under president Bob Ackles.

Braley, who lives in Burlington, Ont., is in Vancouver for tonight's home opener against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Yesterday, he was not prepared to go public with what he has made known in limited CFL circles, saying his team was "unequivocally not for sale."

The timing of Braley's decision to sell, however, makes sense. While most CFL teams change hands in times of crisis, the Lions' story is all good news.

The club heads into this season with 19,000 season-ticket holders, roughly the same total as last season, when Vancouver played host to the Grey Cup game and hit a 14-year high with an average attendance of 32,615 a game.

During this past off-season, the club announced it had turned a profit on operations for the first time since Braley took over.

"David made money for the first time . . . and we didn't make much," Ackles told the Vancouver Sun in January. "We're not hemorrhaging any more. But he still has a huge nut that he's lost over nine years. His debts are substantial since he bought the franchise."

Being able to sell the club with Ackles and general manager and head coach Wally Buono on board is also a significant plus, ensuring competitiveness both on and off the field. Even so, Braley's notion that the team could be worth as much as $15-million is a stretch, given that the Calgary Stampeders sold for $6.5-million a year ago.

Braley, the owner of Hamilton-based Orlick Industries, a tool-and-die company, owned the Hamilton Tiger-Cats from 1989 to 1992 and was the CFL's interim commissioner during the 2002 season. Sources said he has had multiple inquiries about the Lions in recent years.
Braley's potential exit from the CFL could have a significant impact on the league at the board level.

Closely aligned with Montreal Alouettes owner Bob Wetenhall, Braley has often been at odds with the league office, including being strongly opposed to the past three commissioners. He has been recently critical of the league's new salary management system and commissioner Tom Wright.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Results Week One

June 17 CALGARY 24, Edmonton 14
June 17 TORONTO 27, Hamilton 17
June 16 BC 45, Saskatchewan 28
June 16 MONTREAL 27, Winnipeg 17

Tee it up and kick it off!

They’re down one franchise from last year, yet they’ve not been this popular in years! The Commissioner is walking on one part eggshells and another part broken glass, not sure if he’s going to be around by the time the Grey Cup is handed out in Winnipeg in November. Welcome to that bizarre Canadian tradition known as the CFL. A league that always seems to offer up just as many questions as it can provide answers.

The now eight team loop kicks off another season on Friday night with a televised double header on TSN's marquee program Friday Night Football, the first of all 72 games to be broadcast on either TSN or the CBC this year.

The usual amount of musical chairs has taken place, as familiar faces find new places to ply their trade. Looking for Jason Maas, head down the QEW and stop in at Hamilton he’s the next great hope for a Grey Cup parade in steel town. Kerry Joseph had just finished getting the nation’s capital’s football fans (yes there were some there you know) excited about the future, when the future, became the past and he was picked up like leftovers at a party in something called the dispersal draft. Joseph followed in the footsteps of a CFL legend when he moved from Ottawa to Saskatchewan, same as a guy named Lancaster, oh Rider fans can dare to dream can’t they?

The Argos once again grabbed their fair share of the headlines with a big name signing all be it a controversial one, when Ricky Williams was allowed to play out his NFL suspension year with the double blue, the ink had barely dried on the contract when the Ti-Cats growled and the Alouettes howled over the optics of it all, perhaps because they weren’t fast enough on Leigh Steinberg’s’ speed dial!

The Blue Bombers, back in the East again as the CFL tries to figure out how to keep a team in Ottawa, tried their own version of the refugee claim, as they picked up Onterrio Smith for training camp, but the owner of the Whizzinator couldn’t adjust to the CFL game and was cut from the roster as the regular season beckoned.

The Lions and Stampeders refined their product in the off season, BC losing QB Casey Printers to the NFL and then having to soothe the ego of Dave Dickenson, who they had slighted by trying to secure Printers talents to a longer contract with the promise of the starter’s job. If nothing else, at least now there won’t be a QB controversy in BC, as neither of the back ups is quite ready to challenge Dickenson for the big job. However, with his injury record of late, it will be interesting to see if the relievers end up the starters by the season’s end. The Stamps improved the little things and refined an already solid line up; destined to continue the path they left off at when they bowed out in the playoffs last year.

And then there are the defending Grey Cup champs, Ricky Ray is now the man in charge, without a doubt, but he’s looking at a whole new Offensive line after key retirements in the off season. He had best hope the newcomers are up to the challenge, as it’s his health in their mitts. The Eskies are an older crew this year, which will be cause for concern for a chance to repeat as Grey Cup champs in 2006.

There will be many twists and turns once again in this CFL season, many sitting by waiting to see if the Ricky Williams show is a highlight reel showcase or a train wreck waiting to be filmed. And of course the always verbose Don Matthews will no doubt have a thing or two to say about the state of the CFL as the season progresses, he's already in the CFL head office doghouse over his thoughts on the Williams signing, so don't expect him to keep to himself through the year.

In the end, though it’s a great Canadian tradition that once again takes centre stage across the land. A slightly eccentric friend at times, who makes you nuts with his slightly kooky ways, but in the end is someone you just want to spend some time with,. We all get the chance to get reacquainted Friday night. A chance to begin to share the good times, from Canada Day BBQ’s to Labour Day picnics, over the Thanksgiving Day weekend and right through til the end of November and that party of all parties the Grey Cup.

Football’s back, tee it up and let’s kick it off!

The fearless forecast






BC brings the Grey Cup west from its pedestal at Portage and Main!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Board room maneuvers could see Wright exit

The already shaky status of Tom Wright as Commissioner of the CFL seems to be wobbling more than ever today. Earlier Friday, reports came out that Wright had been told that his contract would not be renewed and the 2006 season would be his last as head of the eight team loop.

By late Friday Wright was refusing to comment on unsubstantiated rumours from un-named sources speculating on his fate. What is known is that Wright as no fans in two key CFL cities Montreal and Vancouver, both of the owners in those locations have been less than impressed with his handling of a number of issues and were thought to be behind the current speculation on his fate.

Wright was seemingly asleep at the switch when the Ottawa Renegades franchise blew up two months before the start of this season, he was out of the country as the Gliebermen clan turned the keys over to the league and took their leave of Canadian football for the second time. Many felt that Wright should have been on top of that situation as early as last year when rumblings came out about a lack of progress in planning for the Renegades 2006 season.

Recently Wright seemed to be caught flat footed again as the Ricky Williams saga dragged out over the month of May, two teams namely the Alouettes and the Tiger Cats were outspoken in their feelings regarding Williams signing on with the Argos while still under a contract with the Miami Dolphins.

Perhaps his lack of a clear decision on that issue and who knows how many others, caused the league’s Board of Governors to inform him his contract won’t be renewed. Mind you this is a Board of Governors that seems to interfere far too much in the daily governance of the league by its commissioners, surely one of the most thankless jobs in the country.

Akin to herding cats, keeping the eight (sometimes nine) different styles of management and mercurial egos pulling together would test surely the sageness of a Solomon. The CFL is becoming known as a graveyard for senior executives as they seem to go through Commissioners at an alarming rate. Perhaps as Wright ponders his options for an anticipated answer to the board on Tuesday, he can exact a nice little exit package to just walk away from his responsibilities, inquisitors and detractors.

One thing is certain, there’s been no expression of great support coming from those same governors, no dismissal of the rumours nor offering up of the proverbial vote of confidence. Once again the CFL manages to find a negative just as a positive is about to take place. With the regular season set to start next week, Canadians were once again thinking football. Now while they read the boxes cores of the action on the field, they can check out the business and obituary sections to see if the Commissioner is a living entity or yet another CFL corpse.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Don echoes Joe

It wasn’t quite as dramatic a reading as good Ole Joe Theisman threw at the CFL, but Montreal Alouettes head coach Don Matthews isn’t being shy with his comments on the Ricky Williams signing by the Argonauts.

Matthews who of course once upon a time was the Don of Toronto with the Argos, ripped into his former team on Tuesday suggesting that he was embarrassed by the CFL’s handling of the Dolphin’s signing with the Argos for a year.

Matthews claims that the CFL created a problem that did not exist before by ignoring paragraph 22 of the CFL charter which says “you cannot sign in our league if you are under contract to another league.” Matthews went on to say he had no problem with Williams as a player nor as a person, his concern is purely with the rather casual interpretation of the rules that seems to pop up from time to time in the CFL.

While he and his GM Jim Popp are of the same thought regarding the Williams issue, they probably can stop pulling their hair out. The Alouettes owner, Bob Wettenhall wrote an e mail to the Argos ownership group supporting them in their bid to acquire the services of Williams, Wettenhall said in his e mail that the presence of Williams in the CFL would be good for the gate and good for exposure in the USA.

There is also some conjecture going around that the Alouettes were exploring the prospect of signing Williams themselves before the Argos beat everyone to the punch.

One thing is certain with the Ti-Cats and now the Alouettes speaking out against the Argos on the Williams issue, the East division match ups are going to carry just a little more tension as the season meanders down towards the Grey Cup.

Update: For his troubles Matthews has been fined $5,000 by the CFL for his comments on the Williams signing, it's not the first time that the Don has had to pony up some cash for his tendency to be outspoken .

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Ricky must walk before he runs

As far as explosive debuts on the CFL stage go, the opening night of the Ricky Williams show was a rather pedestrian affair. Pedestrian, as in a light walk as opposed to a full gallop. The newest Argonaut and refugee from the NFL drug laws had a rather humble introduction to his new employment, as Williams appeared in Argo blues for the first time and put up some rather low key first numbers.

Williams carried the ball all of four times, reaching a grand total of 7 yards, as the Ti Cat defensive corps keyed in on the double blue uniform with a number of 27. His appearance was a brief one; he took to the field with five seconds to go in the first quarter, played the bulk of the second quarter and had the rest of the night to himself on the sidelines, as the Argos try to ease their newest and most reported acquisition into the scheme of things.

It’s not surprising that his first night in the CFL would find his output rather low, once he took to the field it was expected that every Ti Cat defender would be thinking of making the big hit that would guarantee them the highlight reel moment. The problem with being hailed as the go to guy is, everyone will be going to you as well. Williams one must also remember has only been in the Argo camp for less than a week, to expect much more from him this early on seems a bit folly.

While his on field work was rather underwhelming on night number one, the fact he had a night number one is still causing some ripples across the CFL and beyond. There are many that don’t think the Argos should have signed the Dolphin’s star, while he serves out his NFL suspension. The most oafish of the week was Joe Theisman, who took histrionics to a new level with his declaration of shame over having ever been an Argo. Few people tend to take much of what Theisman says these days overly seriously, he tends to be a tad indulgent self promotion and even a bit hypocritical with his last batch of hyperbole.

But beyond Joe’s over the top proclamations, there are those that point out some serious flaws in the Argonaut approach to community service and football recruiting. A suspension is a suspension is the line; one league should respect another’s suspension list, lest all sorts of anarchy break out over a year.

Added to that is the secretive way that he has ended up on an Argo roster, is there a secret agreement that will see him clear waivers next year? Many CFL contracts are for a year and then an option year; the understanding is that the option phase is not in place for Williams who will return to the Fish of Miami at the end of the season.

It all once again calls into question the way that CFL teams abide (or most often than not) by the rules in place. Over the years funny accounting, secret stashes of players and a rather discarded salary structure has all made the CFL an interesting bit of sporting theatre. It’s the nudge, nudge, wink, wink league at times, not always for the benefit of the game as a whole.

Even the CFL's Commisioner suggested that it's wrong for a player on suspension in the NFL to find a home in the CFL, but as with many things about the CFL what the Commisioner says and what actually happen sometimes are on different pages.

But for this season, any questions of Williams place in the league will be put aside it seems. He’s in double blue for the duration (barring injury we guess) and should provide a spark to each game he plays. The big names have come and gone through the years in the CFL, many were quick to fade from sight, others provided many great moments for the Canadian game.

He’s off to a slow start, but one gets the feeling once he gets back into the groove Ricky Williams will make his one season of exile in the CFL an interesting six month period.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in!

Well I was going to show a singular lack of interest in the CFL this year, my little protest at the shabby handling of the football fans of Ottawa. The way the league let that situation fester and then just carved up the carcass, leaving the football fans of the capital to twist in the wind was a particular bit of small mindedness that at times comes to define the league.

However, like an old friend that sometimes does something stupid, the CFL still has a bit of pull on me. They infuriate me sometimes with their selfish ways, never seeming to look any further long term that the end of the day, but in the end they are all we have in the summer time, so hey I’ll keep an eye on them.

Like that friend, I won’t be afraid to say they’re out of line, I’ll occasionally take a break when they do something really dumb (Hello Gleibermen follies), but they have a good heart so we’ll cut them some slack and lend a hand when times get particualry dire.

My postings may not be as frequent, nor in depth as in the past, but if something strikes me as interesting I’ll comment. I’ll also try to keep the opening kick off and final snap features as up to date as possible.

Two weeks until the regular season, down a team but certainly still making news (hello Ricky Williams!) it’s our little bit of Canadiana ready for another five months of thrills and occasionally bizarre situations.

Tee it up, it’s almost game time!

Friday, June 02, 2006

2005 Housekeeping

We'll archive our opening kickoffs and final snaps from 2005 here.

Opening Kickoffs

June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005

June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004

The Final Snaps

June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005

June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004

The Final Snaps of June

June 29 "That's a question mark for us"
June 28 "When the offence struggles, as a defence we have to step it up"
June 27 "I don't know what happened"
June 25 "It was a routine play, but a big man like that, running that fast, he's hard to bring down"
June 24 "I don't recall that I touched it,"
June 23 "They did pound us a couple of times in high school"
June 22 "I realize I didn't have the best game last week"
June 21 "We're about achieving victories and that's the bottom line"
June 19 "He needed a change and got one "
June 18 "We've come to expect that from the Argos"
June 17 "Ricky did his job very well"
June 16 "It's a complete shock"
June 15 "It's in everybody's best interests to do so"
June 14 "In the CFL, the quarterback is, and will always be, the most important position"
June 13 "I think we're going to be pretty good this year"
June 10 “It wasn’t pretty, that’s for sure,”
June 9 "The commissioner continues to focus on preparations for the start of the 2006 season"
June 8 "nobody wins"
June 6 "Hey, this is what Islam is about, it has nothing to do with what's going on" June 5 "OK, but it wasn't great"
June 4 "It took a minute for me to realize where I was, but I finally came back to my senses"
June 3 "This game was what it is: It's information"
June 2 "Joe was a phoney back then and he's a phoney now"

The opening Kick Off's of June

June 29 Into the Green Zone
June 29 A Winning Winnipeg combo
June 29 Maas looking for a spark
June 28 Gass is back
June 28 Montford still hoping for another shot
June 28 More depth on the Bomber D
June 27 Marshall making a difference in the Peg
June 27 Temper, Temper in Cowtown
June 27 Practice once, pratice twice, Pinball's advice
June 25 Kudos for Kevin
June 25 Struggling Cats
June 25 Argos taking time to adjust
June 24 Alouettes tame the Cats
June 24 Eskimos dodge disaster
June 24 A sluggish start in Edmonton
June 23 Welcome to Mosaic Field?
June 23 Esks look forward to return match
June 23 Roberts was the Friday Night Light!
June 22 New Look Loop
June 22 Stegall rates the coaches
June 22 They like to hit
June 21 Eskies to pay for careless penalties
June 21 Argos rushing to change the gameplan
June 21 Brady dropped from Eskies
June 19 Just Win, or leave town
June 19 Clermont out indefinitely
June 19 Spergon in the spotlight
June 18 The Tao of Ricky
June 18 Berry shares the blame load
June 18 Riders ripped
June 17 Ricky cares
June 17 Stamps counter Eskimo punches
June 17 Allen's quest for passing glory sidetracked
June 16 No Lame Duck
June 16 Ricky at the Ready
June 16 Where have all the Gades gone?
June 15 Riders ready to challenge
June 15 Is Hank ready to lead the Stamps to the next level?
June 15 Eskies have their own Ricky!
June 14 All eyes on Ricky
June 14 The Wright guy!
June 14 Return of the ReneRiders?
June 13 Jason and the Tiger-Cats
June 13 Renovation plans in Montreal
June 13 Under further review, we'll take the reviews
June 10 Sideline Joe Standing by
June 10 Thinking big in Hamilton
June 10 The Original Whizzinator is back in the bag an on its way home
June 9 Kenton's back
June 9 Unlucky 16 in Montreal
June 9 Ricky, Ricky, Ricky
June 8 Keep your pushing limited to the field
June 8 The Greybeard of 26
June 8 Survey says
June 6 Musical chairs in Winnipeg
June 6 Khari wants redemption
June 6 Familiarity breeds contempt
June 5 Bombers send 14 home
June 5 Ti Cats vow fans will behave
June 5 Northern Exposure
June 4 Instant Replay gets a test drive
June 4 Argos punt the rugby player
June 4 QB job up for grabs with Blue
June 3 Plenty of room for Blue to improve
June 3 Stamps save best for last
June 3 Butler steps up for Riders
June 2 Ti-Cat's spoil Ricky's debut
June 2 Alouette's edge Bombers
June 2 CFL, players say yes

It's a brand new year


June 9 Hamilton 21 - Toronto 11
June 9 Saskatchewan 22 - Edmonton 7
June 8 BC 57 - Calgary 13
June 8 Montreal 30 -Winnipeg 15
June 3 Saskatchewan 14 Edmonton 8
June 2 Hamilton 33 - Toronto 3
June 2 Montreal 25 - Winnipeg 24
June 2 Calgary 26 - BC 23