Monday, November 26, 2007

She wasn't pretty, but in Saskatchewan it looked ok!








To borrow and rework a line from those sons of Saskatchewan The Northern Pikes, Sunday's Grey Cup final, wasn't the prettiest game you'll ever see, but that's probably ok with the residents of Riderville, no doubt still celebrating their 23-19 victory wherever they may call home.
.
Normally it's common belief (and usually fact) that the Canadian Championship is always more exciting and more watchable than its American counterpart, but perhaps this year the NFL won't have as much of a step to make to enthrall the masses.
.
Turnovers decided the 95th Grey Cup, as Ryan Dinwiddie the much discussed rookie quarterback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, committed three mortal football sins on Grey Cup Sunday, all of which ended up in the hands of Saskatchewan corner back James Johnson. For his three picks, Johnson was justifiably named the games most outstanding player.
.
Dinwiddie who was an unknown commodity heading into the championship, wasn't as terrible as many thought. While probably nervous he was doing a relatively decent job of filling in for the injured Kevin Glenn and if not for the miscues going deep, he very well may have been fitted for that Cinderella slipper at the end of the game.
.
As it turned out his final interception of the day, on a last gasp Bomber drive would seal the fate of the Blue for 2007, allowing the riders to run out the clock and set the party train in motion all the way back to Saskatchewan.
.
It was at times a tedious affair to watch, as drives would come to an abrupt end, passes would fly to unknown destinations and offensive plays and play makers stumbled out of the huddle. When the play was lacking on the field, fans were treated to the prospect of a challenge fest, where the Bombers challenged the ruling on a Rider challenge, something not allowed in the rules and provided for the same kind of entertainment that could be found in your average civil trial at your local court house. Football as if played by lawyers, we suspect it won't be something that ever takes off.
.
Once the flags were put away for awhile they got back to the on field action, where the Riders managed to win despite giving up three safeties, surely a record one would think. Spotting the Bombers six points, simply by not being able to move up the field. Their first half of football was more akin to the dark days of Riders football where defeat was there to grabbed from the jaws of victory.

If not for the hard working and hitting efforts of the Rider defence, Mr. Dinwiddie could very well have been the talking point for many a sports broadcast on Sunday night. However, he would eventually find himself under frequent attack from the Rider front four, who hurried and sacked him through out the game.

The Riders finally got untracked in their offensive game in the second half when Kerry Joseph found Andy Fantuz down field and the Rider receiver carried his tacklers to the end zone for the Riders six points. That sudden and uncommon burst of offensive prowess on this day by the Riders was good enough to claim the most outstanding Canadian award for the Chatham, Ontario resident.

It was enough of a spark to get the Rider faithful up on their feet and pondering the possibility of a parade route, though there would still be a few nail biting moments in the interim as the Bombers made their last gasp moves to try and steal away the Rider victory.

It was a defensive struggle for the most part, with full credit to a Bombers defense that managed to shut down the Riders for a fair portion of the game, allowing their offence to try and grab some points. They reduced the leagues outstanding player this yer to just plain normal status and probably caused a few moments of heartburn for the Rider Nation.

But in the end, next year country finally arrived for the legions of Green and White fans, who probably are still celebrating in every corner of the province and most of the others wherever Rider fans can be found.

It wasn't pretty, but they'll take it and in twenty years they'll probably list it with those other two Rider celebrations for the ages.

The Globe and Mail--Not exactly a classic
The Globe and Mail--Grey Cup goes Green
The Globe and Mail--Roughrider fans party like it's 1989
The National Post-- Green glory: Riders win sloppy Grey Cup
The Toronto Star--Is Grey Cup Austin's swan song?
The Toronto Star--Not a classic by any stretch.
Regina Leader Post--Riders win cup
Regina Leader Post--Riders give fans an unforgettable year
Regina Leader Post--Johnson steps up game and makes history
CBC Sports--Roughriders end Grey Cup drought
Canada.com--As Grey Cups go this one was a stinker
The Toronto Star--Dinwiddie ponders a lost opportunity
The Canadian Press--Bomber fans feeling blue after Saskatchewan's Grey Cup win
The Winnipeg Sun--Despite great effort, Bombers defence laments its inability to score
The Winnipeg Sun--Gave it his all
The Winnipeg Sun--Empty feeling
Winnipeg Free Press--Blue-green with envy
Winnipeg Free Press--Dinwiddie done in by picks
Winnipeg Free Press--Close but no cigar


And now, the new official theme song for Sasktachewans 2007 Grey Cup Victory...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Holding their breath in the heartland




The football crazies of Saskatchewan have been waiting for this moment for a few years now, since as far back as 1989, the last time that a representative wearing the legendary Green and White made a successful pilgrimmage to the Grey Cup.

On Grey Cup Sunday, the Roughriders will enter Rogers Skydome as the favourites to complete a remarkable season and claim Lord Grey's Championship Cup. It's not often that the Riders find themselves listed as a favourite and that could be perhaps the most worrisome thing for Kent Austin and his coaching staff.

It's much easier to motivate when everyone suggests you don't have a chance to win, the US against the world approach always seems to provide for helpful results.

But with Winnipeg sending their back up quarterback into battle on Sunday, quite a few of the pundits have already run up the white flag for the Bombers and all but handed the Riders the Cup.

As always it will depend on what happens on the field not in the newspapers, and Saskatchewan which has played solid football for most of the year, rightfully should be held in high esteem for what they have accomplished thus far.

Kerry Jospeh this years most outstanding player, will have this final chance for 2007 to showcase his skills, a combination deep passing threat and a rumbling running back all rolled into one package.

He faces a strong Winnipeg defence, one that has made an impression on CFL fans all year for their ability to bend but not break, to wreak havoc with a teams offensive plan and to cause misery for opposing quarterbacks.

They will be more than aware that most observers have decided that their team does not have a chance and they will most likely be ready to show that football is not all about offence, that defense can do its share to shut down an attack.

The two long time CFL rivals frequently put on an entertaining show, and though this is the first time that they will meet in the Grey Cup, they'll no doubt bring much of the Labour Day and Banjo Bowl intensity with them with a championship on the line.

Saskatchewan is going to be a pretty vibtant place today, Grey Cup parties will rule the day and the anticipation of a deliverance from their Grey Cup demons will be watched with care.

If all goes as planned in Toronto on Sunday, the province wide giant celebration party will be in full throttle by the time the Riders and Bombers strip off their gear.

If it doesn't go as planned, well Saskatchewan will be a very quiet place for a few days.
National Post--Twice as nice
Saskatoon Star Phoenix--Riders have the right stuff
Regina Leader Post--What a party it would be!

It’s D-Day: Dinwiddie’s Day



Two weeks ago Ryan Dinwiddie probably didn’t think he would be the centre of the Canadian Football leagues attention; such is the lot of the back up quarterback. He probably was banking on soaking up the Grey Cup atmosphere, should his Winnipeg Blue Bombers prove victorious, a chance to study, learn and enjoy the great festival that Grey Cup can be.

But in the amount of time that it takes to rush through an offensive line, Dinwiddie’s future became a whole lot more interesting.

As has been chronicled repeatedly over the last seven days, Kevin Glenn’s stellar year came to a sudden stop during last Sunday’s eastern final, when Kevin Eiben landed on Glenn’s left arm and knocked him not only out of the Eastern final but out of today’s Grey Cup.

From that point on, Dinwiddie, an unknown quantity to all but his team mates suddenly became the subject of the greatest obsession in recent CFL years, an examination of his less than prolific CFL career thus far and a non stop questioning of whether he has what it takes to bring a Grey Cup to Winnipeg.

It must be a bit overwhelming for him, having gone from no interviews to the subject of the media spotlight in the most important week in Canadian football.

His team mates, and coaches have done their best to insulate him from all the hoopla and background noise of the Grey Cup, Kevin Glenn has done his part, offering support, guidance and a bit of deflection for the media hordes.

But in the end, it will be what Dinwiddie can do between the lines on Sunday afternoon; he has the same arsenal that Glenn used all year, Roberts, Stegall and a host of others ready and willing to share the load of a rookie Quarterback thrust into the biggest game of the year.

There’s precious little film for the Riders to watch in preparation, instead they will have to concentrate on stopping the usual suspects of the Winnipeg attack. And of course pressuring the Bombers QB will be a priority for a rather intense rider front line.

In any sport, but especially in football the dream of every kid growing up is to be the one player that can make a difference to lead your team to victory, to throw the winning pass, score the winning touchdown.

Ryan Dinwiddie gets to live that dream on Sunday, an opportunity that has presented itself in a most remarkable fashion, should the Bombers leave Rogers Skydome victorious on Sunday night, the legend of Ryan Dinwiddie may be yet another chapter in a colourful CFL history.

One week ago nodbody knew who Ryan Dinwiddie was, in less than twelve hours he can do an awful lot to change that forever.

Winnipeg Sun--The Daily Dinwiddie

24 participants in the 95th Grey Cup share a common bond


When the ball is kicked off for the Grey Cup this year, there will be a number of fans watching and wondering if only….

Across Eastern Ontario the long suffering fans of the capital region and the Ottawa Valley as well as across the river in Gatineau, will be rattling off the names, players that once began their journey to today’s Grey Cup match from Frank Clair Stadium.

Matthew Seekers of the National Post put together an interesting article for Saturday’s paper, examining the 24 players, coaches and managers that served in the early days of the Renegades experiment, a testimony to what could have been if only a few more dollars had been found in the cushions and if a league did not let a commitment to the capital blow away like a cold northern wind swooping across the Ottawa river.

The Renegades introduced Canadian football fans to Kerry Joseph, Josh Ranek and a host of other now veteran names on the CFL scene. They made mistakes in those early days, but were always exciting and provided hope for a long suffering football base that has been abused by successive owners over the years.

Eric Tilman and Kent Austin both were there to help launch the Renegades, but as the situation in Ottawa deteriorated they sought out other options, leaving behind a knowledgeable football town, disappointed and betrayed.

There’s talk again, as there always seems to be at Grey Cup time of yet another rebirth for the CFL in the nation’s capital, this time rumoured to be a little more locally based and with a solid marketing plan.

However, it now depends on the state of Frank Clair Stadium at Lansdowne Park, which recently had the Lower south side stands condemned of sorts due to problems with the south side seating.

It was home for the legendary south siders of Lansdowne Park a hearty band of followers who frequently mocked their more sophisticated (and drier) compatriots across the field.

The Southsiders would be justifiably proud of the 24 that take to the field on Sunday for the 95th Grey Cup; they have all the traits that Southsiders held dear, hard work, talent and a love of the Canadian game. They will cheer them on most likely from the comfort of their television rooms, hopeful of one day once again having a team of their own, but regretting the loss of the nucleus of what it would seem would have been a pretty good football team today.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Survey says: We love our game


It's quirky at times, frequently dashes to the edge of a cliff and threatens to jump, has had two teams with the same name in its past, and has left and returned ane left cities over the years; yet the CFL still carries a special place in our hearts. A love affair that has endured over the decades of the last century and with a bit of luck and continued hard work should carry forth long into this century.

The Strategic counsel has released its findings into a survey conducted for the Globe and Mail, nineteen questions that examined the state of Canadian football and its importance to this vast land of ours.

There is a definite age gap that the league needs to address, where those over 55 are more likely to watch a CFL game, those under 24 have found the glitz and hype of the NFL hard to resist. Overall it's a slight advantage to the CFL for television viewing with close to 60% saying that they would rather watch a CFL game than an NFL one on TV.

The fate of the league is apparently high on our minds as well, with 89% of the West, 84% in Quebec and 76% in Ontario saying that they feel that the CFL's survival is of importance.

As a unifying factor, there may be no better symbol. It would seem that no Canada Council grants or special measures from Parliament are needed to enshrine the CFL in the consciousness of the nation.

The league to no surprise is strongest in Western Canada, where the games traditions and legends are still etched in the minds of generations of Canadian football fans. Where the teams have always had a place of prominence in their communities, a long time part of the nations make up. The recent renaissance of football in Quebec, has also created a breeding ground for the three down game, a prospect that the Strategic Counsels suggests is one of the few things that Quebec and the rest of Canada can share with a true passion.

Reflective of the current debate, the threat of an American invasion doesn't seem to worry the vast majority of the respondents, many of whom welcome the prospect of an NFL team for Toronto all the while insisting that the two leagues can co-exist.

That remains to be seen in the future, but in the here and now, on the last weekend for football in Canada for 2007, the game is strong and the game is ours. The numbers provide an interesting look at the game and perhaps offer some clues as to how to increase the league's visibility and relevance to the nation.

The Globe and Mail's David Naylor examined some of the findings of the survey and how they impact on our image of the game today.

Cohon turns his attention towards the wildlife in the room






They loom over the border not more than a few hours away, a football team that has had more than its fair share of heartbreak, frequently leaving its fans silent in wonderment at another taste of failure (hmm, sound familiar? Maybe they belong after all) and now they cast a covetous eye at the largest television market in Canada, hoping to make it theirs.

They are the Buffalo Bills, they of the NFL and while not official guests at this Grey Cup festival they seem to be on the mind of a good number of those celebrating all that Canadian football can be. Whether they are a gorilla, an elephant or any other large hard to ignore animal, they have been the topic of many an unofficial conversation this week.

And on Friday, the NFL with its glitz, glamour and mega millions or billions, was the main talking point for CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon. Holding his first of the annual examinations of the state of the league seminars, Cohon did not shirk or spin the prospect of an NFL franchise in the CFL office’s hometown. Nor did he however, offer up any kind of battle plan for what he feels may lie ahead.

The Bills are coming to Rogers Skydome for two games next season that is a fact, it's the beginning of what is expected to be a gradually increasing presence on the northern frontier and one that could eventually place an NFL franchise in Toronto as a regular presence.

It’s a possible scorched earth scenario for the CFL, one that Cohon at least seems to be trying to avoid with his tentative steps into finding some common ground with the would be owners of a Toronto franchise, the NFL itself and even some of his more hot headed CFL owners who may be inclined to just ignore the vacuum cleaner as it crosses the border.

It wouldn’t be the CFL without a crisis of sorts to deal with, the short term visiting team scenario, is not as dire as the potential troubles that any long term relocation might provide.

There are still quite a number of pieces that would have to fall into place before the CFL would have to launch into a crisis management session, but it’s best to be as prepared for any possibility.

Cohon has been pro-active on that front; to the degree that he's at least not sticking his head in the sand and pretending that there's nothing to worry about. The league will still have to come up with a plan however to deal with all the possibilities and one that will ensure that the CFL remains a strong brand and a continued part of the Canadian landscape.
.
The league has had a remarkable year in both game attendance and television ratings, so the brand still resonates with the nation. It’s how this latest development is handled that will show us if the CFL has learned from its past mistakes and can bring together a collective approach to solving what could be a very large problem.
.
.

Globe and Mail--Cohon faces NFL threat head-on

Winnipeg Sun--Elephant on parade

London Free Press--Cohon refreshingly honest on NFL

Toronto Star--NFL coming to Toronto, CFL commissioner believes

USA Today-- CFL: NFL in Toronto is a threat

CBC Sports--CFL boss sees NFL coming to Toronto


Bisons become Beasts of the CIS


It's one for two for Manitoba so far this weekend, as the University of Manitoba Bisons collected their first Vanier Cup in 37 years, with a convincing 28-14 championship run at Rogers Skydome on Friday night.

The Bisons who last ran into the St. Mary's Huskies in 2001, would not make the same mistakes as they did on that occasion when they allowed the Maritimers to claim the national title. From the midway point of the first quarter, through to the final gun, the Bisons never appeared to be at risk of letting this championship escape their clutches.

St. Mary's problems began with untimely turnovers, which the Bisons capitalized on Huskies miscues to build up a sizable lead and keep the Halifax university team in the rear view mirror for the entire game.

Defensive back Mike Howard, proved to be a one man collection agency, as he hauled in three interceptions on the course of the night. St. Mary's backup quarterback Ted Abraham was handed the ball at the start of the game after the Huskies starting quarterback was injured in last weeks Uteck Bowl. Erik Glavic suffered tears in his knee ligaments and was lost for the championship game and while Abraham gave it all he had, the unfortunate picks proved to be the undoing of the Huskies dream of another CIS championship.

Manitoba quarterback John Makie controlled the play through the final three quarters of the game, leading his Bisons downfield to victory as he has 22 of his 23 CIS games in his university career.

When he wasn't directing the attack he was resting on the sidelines as the Bisons defence, one of the best in the university game in Canada held the Huskies out of the end zone. St. Mary's scored the first touchdown of the game early on in the first, but that would be the last they would see of the zone for a long time as the Bisons clamped down and limited the Huskies to field goals on offence for the remainder of the night.

The game was marred by a horrific injury to Manitoba's Matt Henry, who left the game on a stretcher with what was diagnosed later on as a broken femur. The only dark moment on an otherwise shiny moment for Manitoba football. A game that rewarded Manitoba head coach Brian Dobie, who took the oldest university football team into battle at the start of the season and ran the field for a perfect 12 and 0 record.

The Vanier Cup became part of the official Grey cup weekend festivities this year, tied in with Sunday's Grey Cup and with that affiliation came a respectable crowd for the championship game. Over 26,000 fans watched the game at Rogers Skydome, that from a reported 39,000 that bought tickets as part of a Grey Cup ticket package. The attendance on Friday was the best the game had attracted in the last 12 years.

The game was broadcast across Canada on The Score, which produced a fairly high quality football package for the home viewer, perhaps introducing more than a few new arrivals to the quality of play of the Canadian university game.

The game was also played on a Friday night, change from the traditional Saturday afternoon schedule, but a wise choice, providing it with its own stand alone night at the weekend festival of football. The night after the CFL awards and two days before the Grey Cup. Also Canadians are conditioned to watching football on Friday's thanks to TSN"s Friday Night Football during the regular CFL season, so it just seemed like a natural night to celebrate the university games championship moment.

Next years Grey Cup is in Montreal, so it would seem to make sense to continue the practice of including the Vanier Cup as part of the celebration of football at the end of November. With any luck the University of Montreal, Bishops, McGill, Concordia, Sherbrooke or Laval Rouge er Or may become the home side representative. Football has taken off in Quebec, as can be seen by the success of the University programs of the province, put one of their teams in next years Vanier Cup and attendance records could be at peril.

Full credit to the CFL for involving the University game in the week long festival that has become Grey Cup week, it's the grass roots for many Canadian players who one day aspire to join a CFL team.

The CIS's involvement this week has added to what was already an iconic moment of Canadianna, Friday night was their moment in the spotlight and for Manitoba it was the beginning of what that provinces football fans hope will be a football sweep!

Winnipeg Free Press--U of M Bisons win Vanier Cup
Winnipeg Sun--Bisons win Grey Cup

Friday, November 23, 2007

Making the visitors feel right at home


Always willing to extend a hand, Ontario provided a reminder of home for the fans of the Blue Bombers and Roughriders on Thursday morning.

Southern Ontario received the first significant storm of the season, providing snow, freezing rain and windy conditions for the thousands of prairie dwellers who have migrated to the Big Smoke for the National celebration of Football.

Outdoor events were move indoors, much to the chagrin of the heartier prairie folk, who most likely found the dusting of snow that landed on Toronto more of an annoyance than any kind of hindrance to commerce or partying. One was even cancelled, the ever popular Stampeder pancake breakfast, although there is some debate as to who pulled the plug and why.

The city of Toronto took the unusual step yesterday of issuing an extreme cold weather alert, which probably seemed a tad humorous to the folks that regularly consider -15 to be a warm winters day.

The OPP responded to more than 700 accidents, the most serious were two that closed the southbound Highway 400 at Finch Ave. W. and the northbound 400 south of Highway 7 throughout the afternoon rush hour.

Should the inclement conditions continue, we offer this word of advice to the residents of the GTA, just hand the keys over to the folks from Regina, Winnipeg, Brandon, Saskatoon or anywhere that the louder of your visitors hail from. You provide the directions and they’ll provide the driving, after all, if you come from the prairies then driving in the snow is second nature.

The wheels will make for a nice trade off for the warm comfy climes that the Rogers Centre will offer on Sunday. The irony of traveling to Ontario for a typically cold Grey Cup Sunday weather forecast will no doubt not be lost on those that traveled from the West in the last few days.

They'll be heading home on Monday, trading tales of football celebrations and transportation headaches, with Toronto the centre of discussion for both.

Western sweep at CFL Awards




Like the snowstorm that blew into Southern Ontario on Thursday, the wind from the West brought a blizzard of acclaim to all the Western finalists for the 2007 CFL Player Awards.

And it was a wind that crossed over the Rockies that for the most part ruled the CFL trophy count on Thursday night. Five of the six awards handed out at Roy Thompson Hall went to members of the BC Lions, who won’t be playing in Sunday’s Grey Cup, but will have plenty of items to take back with them to British Columbia after this weekend.

Cam Wake, was a two time winner. He picked up the award for outstanding Defensive Player as well as the award for Rookie of the Year.

Also from the Lions Den in the line for an award was Rob Murphy as the leagues best offensive lineman, Ian Smart collected the trophy for the leagues top special teams player and Jason Clermont who was voted the leagues top Canadian this year.

Kerry Joseph played interloper to the Lions reunion on the stage on Wednesday, as he collected the trophy for Most Outstanding Player for 2007, a well deserved award for the Riders on field leader. By claiming the MVP for 2007 Joseph joins some elite company in Saskatchewan, now placing his name in the ranks of Ron Lancaster and George Reed the twin legends of Canadian football in Saskatchewan.

And while the Lions were well represented on awards night, there’s one trophy that Joseph still has a chance to hold, one that the Lions would gladly have traded all that hardware tonight for a chance at.

Sunday night, when that fourth quarter gun sounds, they’ll be handing out the main attraction, the Grey Cup. A long sought after treasure for Saskatchewan football fans and one that Joseph could have a great deal to say about on Sunday afternoon.

For the Lions that shared the spotlight tonight, the memories of awards night will now begin to fade, for Joseph sixty minutes of football are left to play, sixty minutes to add one more trophy to the collective case, sixty minutes to create one more lasting memory for Saskatchewan and for his CFL career.
.
There were three awards of recognition handed out as well at Thursday's gala event.
Winnipeg slotback Milt Stegall won the Tom Pate Memorial Award for his contributions to his team and community.
.
Blue Bombers tailback Charles Roberts, was chosen player-of-the-game six times in on-line balloting and had the most votes in the Rogers Fans Choice Award.
.
While Outgoing Argos president Keith Pelley was given the Commissioner's Award by commissioner Mark Cohon, for his dedicated work in reviving the Argonaut brand in Toronto.

National Post--Joseph comes up big
Regina Leader Post--Joseph wins

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Lions have met the enemy and they were them!


Full value to the Saskatchewan Roughriders they put the requisite number of points on the board when opportunity arose to dash the dreams of Lions fans of a remarkable season topped off with a Grey Cup berth.

The Riders, who apparently only attend the Grey Cup about every twenty years, secured an invitation to the final show with a convincing 26-17 victory of a stunned BC Lions squad.

Turnovers sealed the fate of the Leos on Sunday afternoon, an astounding amount of miscues that provided the Saskatchewan Roughriders with more than enough opportunities to make the residents of the gap of land between Alberta and Manitoba believers once again.

In the province that lives and breathes football, their provincial heroes provided a long cherished return to Canada’s greatest national celebration. Despite some fluttering misdirected passes by the usually reliable Kerry Joseph, the Riders took full advantage of the Lions miscues, gaining 16 of their 26 points thanks to the Lions mistakes.

Defensively the Riders were dominant, a force that caused havoc in the Lions game plan all day. They were often in the face of Jarious Jackson who struggled with his first CFL playoff start, the pass rush hurried his passes, the front line stopped the run and frequently brought Lions quarterbacks to the field. By the time Jackson had been replaced by Dave Dickenson in the waning minutes of the fist half, the Riders had already built up their confidence, frustrating the once potent Lions attack at every turn.

The Lions had a brief glimpse of hope with a 78 yard punt return by Ian Smart, which set up a Geroy Simon touchdown, but it was to be but a tantalizing tease as to what could have been for the Lions fans today.

The Saskatchewan secondary was painted as the weakest link in the Riders defence for most of the year, but on this Sunday the secondary rose to the challenge on more than one occasion. They kept Paris Jackson, Geroy Simon and Jason Clermont at bay for a good portion of the game. Refusing to give up the big play, limiting the Lions to the short pass and run game. It would be a game plan that frequently resulted in the Lions Paul McCallum to return to the field to send the ball back to his once former team mates.

The Lions who dominated the season like few teams have in recent years, were the favourites to become the Western representative for Lord Grey’s Cup, that was the consensus of the media types and the almost 60,000 fans at BC Place most of whom wore Orange, (except for those crazy folks that insist on wearing Green).

The normally noisy Thunder dome of football became rather quiet as the final quarter wore down, an uneasy realization settling over the west coast that this year theGrey Cup trophy would not be making a trek quite as far west as many had hoped.

Instead, it’s everybody’s second choice heading off to do battle with a suddenly battle scarred Blue Bomber team. A dream match that was first suggested as a Grey Cup match up back in week ten with the Labour Day Classic and the followed by the Banjo Bowl, the two most important dates on either a Blue Bomber or Roughrider calendar .

It’s a long hoped for match for the heartland of Canadian football, ever since the Bombers were transplanted to the East (not once but twice) there has been the flicker of hope that perhaps two of the fiercest rivals in the league would meet for more than just bragging rights of the neighborhood.

Next Sunday they will shut down the prairies for the weekend, the ranchers, farmers and oil field workers of Saskatchewan will join those perceived prairie city slickers of Winnipeg and the like minded farmers of Western Manitoba in a joint communion of Canadian Football.

The Lions and Argos and their fans, the real city slickers of the CFL will be left on the sidelines to ponder what could have been. Reduced to mere spectators as the heart of Canadian football takes to the streets of Toronto to celebrate the game where it’s played with the most emotion.

On the week before the final football celebration of the year, those that wanted the invitation more, picked it up over those that felt that it was theirs for the taking.

We guess that’s why we play the games after all.


The Globe and Mail--Revenge is sweet
Vancouver Sun--Lions lose

Winning the battle! But will the war be in peril?


It is a time for celebration in Winnipeg and then a time for concern. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers played the role of Grey Cup Party Poopers on Sunday afternoon as they eliminated the hometown Toronto Argonauts from further competition for this year’s Grey Cup.

The Bombers led for most of the game by Quarterback Kevin Glenn provided just enough offence and some stellar defensive play to claim the Eastern Division’s spot at the Grey Cup game next week right back at the Rogers Skydome.

The win sets up a banjo pickin’ reunion for prairie folk, as the Blue will meet the other surprising winner on Sunday (though true Rider fans will tell you that ain’t no surprise thank you very much) in the first head to head contest for the Grey cup between the two rivals of the flatlands.

The only dark cloud on an otherwise clear sky day for the Bombers was the loss of Glenn who suffered what appeared to be a broken shoulder or arm in the third quarter. A hit that took place while Glenn was scrambling for a lost ball in the backfield, his arm crushed into the Skydome field resulted in Glenn struggling to the sidelines in visible pain.

The injury quickly made Ryan Dinwiddie the household name from Winnipeg to Kenora Ontario, along the Trans Canada from Portage to Brandon and north to Churchill and even to the US and Saskatchewan borders.

For the Bomber faithful his reps this week will be among the most closely watched set of practice downs in the history of the Blue and Gold. While he looked tentative at times in his relief appearance, he managed to get the job done and did so while a charged up Toronto Defence tried to make the best use of the sudden change of momentum.

Dinwiddie handled the ball with enough calm to navigate the Bombers to the 19-9 victory, a game that was highlighted by Keith Stokes 81 yard punt return for a touchdown and the reappearance of Milt Stegall as an offensive threat and a reintroduction of Charles Roberts to lead the running game.

As it has all season long, the Bombers defence came up large for their coaches, taking away any kind of deep game from the Argos, who found their starting quarterback Michael Bishop struggling with any passes over thirty yards or so, while they had some success with a short pass game any long home run balls were largely incomplete, leading to far too many two and outs for a team to win a football game.

Inconsistent for most of the first three quarters, the Argonauts never seemed to get untracked and were unable to live up to the much ballyhooed hype about this game. Toronto’s fans (and maybe a player of two), as hosts of the Grey Cup had been almost counting their touchdowns before they were played this week, bold predictions of a dominating rout, a definitive declaration that fewer than ten points would cross an Argonaut goal line all made for a heavy case of hubris by the end of sixty minutes, complete with an almost maple leaf like crowd rendition of booing for the double boo at times.

In the end, the Bombers executed perfectly, their starting quarterback and now head cheerleader was on a pace for a pretty remarkable game, their strong point all year the Defense showed why they have been the steady constant in Blue and gold all year.

The Argos reverted to the team that struggled during the dog days of summer only able to turn it on after Labour day, in Sunday’s case their inability to put the nose to the grindstone made the Bombers job much easier.

Instead of a giddy celebration at the end of the game, with cheers for the toast of the town, instead the plaintive cry of tickets who wants tickets probably could be heard. Fortunately for Argo fans holding tickets to a game they may no longer wish to attend, there will be no shortage of folks from the flatlands arriving in town this week, anxious for a chance to sample the night life and pick up a few spare tickets.

Toronto’s dreams may be dashed, but the party will still go on. All be it with a decidedly western flavour to the week long festival.

The Canadian Press--Bishop comes up short

CFL Divisional Finals--Sunday, November 18

Eastern Final-- 1 pm ET, 10 am PT--Winnipeg 19 @ Toronto 9

Western Final--1:30 pm PT, 4:30 pm ET--Saskatchewan 26 @ BC 17

CFL Playoff web page



Saturday, November 17, 2007

The under card for a football celebration is set







Grey Cup Weekend has already had one of the dances on next weekend's dance card filled, as the Canadian University Football season is now but one game away from complete.

In two conference finals on Saturday, the final seeds for the Desjardin’s Vanier Cup have been decided with two University teams making their travel arrangements for next weekend in Toronto and Friday night’s University final.

The CIS will go almost as far east as it could go to send a team off to do battle with a rival from the west this year, as Halifax's, St. Mary’s University Huskies showing some dominant defence and a very effective offensive attack, surprised many by their easy handling of the Laval Rouge et Or, the powerhouse squad out of Quebec City that has been a fixture atop the Canadian football rankings in recent years. The Huskies claimed the Uteck Bowl on Saturday with a convincing 21-2 win over their Quebec conference contemporaries.

The Rouge et Or have been the most impressive team in Eastern University football these last few seasons, so it was a bit of a shock for those watching to see their much vaunted offense shut down completely. The Huskies forced five turn overs and allowed little in the way of opportunity for Laval to get untracked, setting the scene for the Quebec City university to suffer its first loss of the year. The game was a testimony to the Huskie's ability to stick to St. Mary’s head coach Steve Sumarah’s game plan. The Huskies having learned from a tightly played game earlier in the year, which saw Laval top them 29-22.

Saturday there was no question on the field about which team was the better one, Laval coach Glen Constantin acknowledging the impressive performance by the St. Mary’s defence.

The Huskies will now get ready for an encounter with the Bison’s of the University of Manitoba. The Winnipeg based university made quick work of the University of Western Ontario Mustangs on Saturday, taking charge from the early going and rolling the points along through the day. Manitoba punched their ticket eastbound for Toronto as they manhandled the Mustangs 52-20.

Ranked number three heading into the Mitchell Bowl, the Bisons controlled play on both sides of the ball. On offence they were a juggernaut hard to stop once under way, while defensively, they provided a smothering blanket which shut down most of the Western offence for a good portion of the game.

Manitoba was up 31-5 by the half, which must have given Western head coach Greg Marshall some flashbacks to his days as head coach with the Tiger Cats in Hamilton. The explosion of offence in the first, left little room for Western to launch a comeback, a short lived spurt saw the Mustangs put another fifteen points on the board, but it was too little too late, as Manitoba celebrated sending another football team off to Ontario.

The Bison’s last won a national championship back in 1970, while St. Mary’s has been a rather regular competitor from the late nineties and early years of this century.
The two teams will take the field as part of a festival of Canadian football, part of a bookend of Football games that will declare champions in two leagues of the three down game.

There are a few that feel that becoming part of the Grey Cup festival may detract from the importance of the University game, but realistically moving the game onto Grey Cup weekend seems like a natural move.

The players will find that the pressure to perform is even more pronounced than the Vanier Cups of the past, with thousands of football fans in Toronto for Grey Cup weekend, it seems that if properly marketed and made a part of the festivities and not just a sideline activity, than the interest in this final will begin to grow to a level that the game deserves.

Some fear that the Vanier Cup may get lost in the shuffle of all the Grey Cup excitement, but if handled in the right way, it could very well become one of the key elements of a great celebration of Canadian football.

We’ll have a better idea by next Friday night, but regardless of the hoopla and concerns, two pretty good football teams will set forward to do battle for the 43rd edition of the Vanier Cup.

Here’s hoping that Toronto and its visitors take a few hours out on Friday to see how the young up and coming class of football players are doing.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Reflections of a gun slinger


Matt Dunigan is making the rounds of the talk shows these days, offering up some samples of his latest project a comprehensive look at his days as a CFL quarterback, coach and broadcaster.

The long time CFL pivot and now broadcaster teamed up with Jim Taylor, one of Canada's best sports writers and a long time observer of the Canadian football League to bring his memories to life in print, not an easy task when you've suffered as many concussions as he has over the years.

Their combined effort is called Goin' Deep: The Life and Times of a CFL Quarterback, a timely look at the world of Canadian football and the nature of the game. Dunigan holds nothing back in his remembrances, including details on the one thing that eventually drove him from the game, a number of concussions throughout his career.

Thursday's stop was the Bill Good radio show on CKNW in Vancouver, Dunigan and Taylor sat in with Good and traded quips and quotes about how the project came to be, the process of putting it together and what Dunigan hopes will be the reaction from football fans looking for a bit of inside information about the workings of the CFL and his career in it.

You can check out the interview by going to the CKNW Audio Vault, click on the Thursday, November 15th selection and then select the 11 to 12 noon hour for a refreshing look at some CFL lore.

Harbour Publishing--Goin Deep

CFL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK, SEMI FINAL WEEKEND


On Wednesday, the CFL announced their Roger's player of the week awards for the semi finals of last weekend.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
KERRY JOSEPH--QB--SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS
Unanimous selection

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
BARRIN SIMPSON--LB--WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS
Runner Up: Eddie Davis, Saskatchewan

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
LUCA CONGI--K--SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS
Runner Up: Troy Westwood, Winnipeg

CANADIAN PLAYER OF THE WEEK
ANDY FANTUZ--SB--SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS
Unanimous selection

Monday, November 12, 2007

Deuces Wild on Semi Final Sunday


The CFL is legendary for its wild finishes in the playoffs, the game never over until the final whistle. And that axiom was once again never truer, this semi final Sunday. In both playoff matches played on the outdoor prairie this Sunday the margin of victory was two points...

Both the Eastern and Western semi finals were bitterly contested right up to the very end, though in both cases in reality they should have been over long before they produced those anxiety producing final moments.

By a curious twist of match ups to come, all three remaining CFL games this playoff season will be played in an indoor facility. So alas, there will be no famous Canadian winter like scenes to come this year, iconic Canadian celebrations for the ages, just climate controlled football with perfect field conditions.

We look back at two highly entertaining games that set the stage for the Eastern and Western finals next Sunday afternoon.


SECOND CHANCE FOR WESTWOOD, SECOND CHANCE TO SAVE A SEASON FOR THE BOMBERS

The Montreal Alouettes led by Marcus Brady were looking every bit as the team that was Eastern final bound as Brady played perhaps the game of his career, taking on both the Bombers and a swirling wind. For most of the game the Montreal Quarterback was an offensive force to his own, scrambling for yardage, throwing pinpoint passing and defying the elements with accurate passes into a strong Manitoba wind. His Alouettes held a four point lead going into the second half, mainly on the strength of Brady’s arm and legs.

Defensively the Alouettes held the Bombers in check for the first half having given up an early Kevin Glenn drive down the field, but Winnipeg managed to stay within striking distance. What went on display in the second half was a textbook example of hard hitting football, one that featured an astounding late game third and short stand that is sure to be talked about in Montreal for most of the off season.

Jim Popp concerned at the way the wind was knocking the ball around, chose instead to gamble, serving up the scene for Barrin Simpson to do what he does so well, shut down an offense and change a game. Simpson stuffed Brady before he could get near the line of scrimmage, knocking him short of the first down and setting the stage for a last second Troy Westwood field goal for the win.

For Westwood it was a much desired second chance, the notorious winds of CanadInn Stadium played havoc with an earlier attempt at a field goal that would have put the Bombers in the lead. His last gasp chance to make amends went through the uprights, sending the Bombers on to Toronto for next weeks Eastern final with a 24-22 cliffhanger of a victory.

The game was in a way a mini review of the season for these two teams. A season that has been an agonizing one for the Bombers and their fans, reflected in the surprisingly small crowd in attendance on Sunday. After a fast start which saw them run off to lead the division, they began to suffer stretches of frustration, as they stumbled their way into the final part of the season. Sunday they went two and out, or saw the wind lay their best thought out plans shut down. Daring risks went unrewarded and in the end, the fate of the game was left to the one player who was never really sure if he was going to finish the season in Gold and Blue.

The weight of an entire season must have been pressing down on Westwood in the dying seconds of the game, for most of this season as the Bombers went from favourites to just barely surviving the season, Westwood seemed to be perpetually on the bubble, one final kick away from dismissal.

As things turned out, Doug Berry kept him around, a move that certainly paid dividends on a windy afternoon in Winnipeg.

The Bombers will have to adjust their game plan significantly for a successful result next week, the Alouettes came close to ending the Bombers season, the Argos will have made their notes and will study their film this week, ready to take advantage of the cracks put on display Sunday.

SURVIVAL OF THE GREENEST

By the time the first ten minutes of the Western Final were complete, it for all intents and purposes looked like an epic thrashing was about to unfold on the plains of old Pile o Bones.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders and some 28,800 of their closest would be General Managers were celebrating a remarkable start to long awaited return of playoff football to Regina.

With an opening drive touchdown display that put seven points on the board before Gainer the gopher had a chance to look up, the Riders appeared ready to not only exorcise the playoff demons of years gone by, but to transfer them to a Calgary Stampeder squad that looked quite fragile and on the verge of a surrender.

The Stampeders could not have started a game off if it had been designed by the opposing coaches, defensive schemes were blown and fumbles were gifts for a Saskatchewan team that accepted them quickly and without mercy.

The first half was all Saskatchewan, complete ball control, dominating defensive play and a sense of destiny seemingly hanging on every play. Yet for all of that domination, one worrisome trend kept trotting out onto the field, place kicker Luca Congi frequently found himself called to duty after a Saskatchewan drive would get bogged down, leaving the Riders to settle for three when seven was well within their grasp.

By rights this game should have been over at the half, the Riders left too many points on the field and untimely turnovers continued to provide the Stamps with life. A game that should very well have been 20-0 after thirty minutes instead was just 13-7.

A favour that the Stamps would capitalize on in the second half. Henry Burris, a former favourite son of Saskatchewan but now the Darth Vader of flatland football, had mixed results on this semi final Sunday.

When he was on he was remarkable, his passes pin point, his ability to move the team downfield impressive. But, the untimely errors of fumbles and interceptions served to sabotage their efforts.

This has been a most unsettling week for the Stamps, besides having to practice under the glare of unfilled expectations this season, the unwanted distraction of managerial turmoil arrived just in time for their biggest game of the year. All week the rumour that Tom Higgins would be dismissed were making the rounds, with an unsuccessful result despite the never say die attitude expressed it would seem that indeed, Higgins’ career with the Stamps will be done.

As the Stamps launched a last gasp on side kick attempt to try and get the ball back one more time, the Rider Nation’s faithful held their breath. A first successful attempt was called back because of an offside call.

The second attempt was recovered by the Riders, leaving them with the 26-24 victory and snuffing out any further thoughts of playing football this year for the Stamps.

The Riders storybook season will continue for one more week at least, but unless the Riders can gain better results from their hard work it may fall one game short. The Lions, rested and now anxious to get back to work will be waiting for the Riders and their traveling circus of fanatics. Thankful for the extra box office push that a Saskatchewan match up will offer, mindful that a team that has so much faith invested in it by an entire province will be a dangerous opponent.

It will all come down to execution and follow through next week. If Saskatchewan can’t finish the deal on Sunday, the Lions will take full advantage. Wally Buono will make quick work of any weakness shown by his opposition, Kent Austin will be making that point frequently over the next six days, a lesson that probably won’t be hard to share with his squad who came oh so close to letting success slip away for a province that bleeds green game in and game out.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Semi Final Sunday, November 11

Eastern Semi Final--Montreal 22 @ Winnipeg 24
Winnipeg advances to Eastern Final
Sunday, November 18 @ Toronto 1 pm ET, Noon CT, 10 am PT

Western Semi Final--Calgary 24 @ Saskatchewan 26
Saskatchewan advances to Western Final
Sunday, November 18 @ Vancouver 1:30 PT, 2:30 CT, 4:30 ET

CFL Playoff web page

Lest We Forget







IN FLANDERS FIELDS

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.
Short days agoWe lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Divine Intervention?


The Winnipeg Free Press has the picture of the playoffs, a smiling Dalai Lama holding some Blue Bomber gear that he has just autographed.

Would be Bomber owner David Asper, was invited to a dinner in Ottawa in honour of the Dalai Lama and accompanied him on the flight to Ottawa, using his charms and sharpie pen to get perhaps the most famous autograph to ever end up on a piece of Blue Bomber equipment.

Victory to the Blue Bombers, is the inscription that the Dalai Lama scribbled onto the helmet in Tibetan, a sentiment that no doubt more than a few Manitoban's may find common ground with.

Where this leaves the Alouettes in the great booster club debate remains to be seen, perhaps a quickly placed call to the Vatican might provide some comfort for the team as they prepare for Sunday's eastern semi final, though it's doubtful that working on a Sunday will gain them much favour with His Holiness.

CFL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK, NUMBER NINETEEN

Week number nineteen saw the CFL hand out it's final Roger's player of the week awards for the 2007 regular season .

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
GEROY SIMON--SB--BC LIONS
Runner Up: Michael Bishop, Toronto

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
HOWARD HODGES--DL--HAMILTON TIGER CATS
Runner Up: Kevin Eiben, Toronto, Jonathon Brown, Toronto, Ricky Foley, BC

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JO JO WALKER--WR--HAMILTON TIGER CATS
Runner Up: Nick Setta, Hamilton

CANADIAN PLAYER OF THE WEEK
ANDRE TALBOT--SB--TORONTO ARGONAUTS
Runner Up: Ray Mariuz, Hamilton Tiger Cats

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A sign from the football Gods?

The CFL has announced that the 2007 Grey Cup will be a green event, as the league tries its best to reduce the environmental impact of Grey Cup festivities later this month.

Included in the green agenda, will be a fleet of hybrid vehicles to shepherd the CFL VIP's to their many duties (parties we suspect), the league will try to improve on the way garbage is handled at the big game at Rogers Centre on Nov. 25, and the league is joining in with school children across Canada to work on a number of green projects.

All of which must be music to the ears of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their legion of fans, after all if this is a Green Year, no better team to win a Grey Cup that the Green Riders of Saskatchewan eh!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Semi Final Sunday

The first of the CFL's elimination rounds gets under way this weekend, with the Eastern and Western Semi finals set for Winnipeg and Regina on Sunday afternoon.

With Sunday also commemorating Remembrance Day, the CFL and CBC have modified the starting times of the two games to avoid conflicts with Remembrance ceremonies across the country.

The Eastern Semi-Final will get underway at 1 pm CST (2 pm EST) as the Montreal Alouettes take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The winner will travel to Toronto on November 18th for the Eastern Final against the Argonauts at Rogers Skydome.

Three hours later at 4 pm CST (5 PM EST) the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders will tee it up from Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field. The winner will then travel to Vancouver for the Western Final against the BC Lions at BC Place on November 18th.

November 11--Montreal @ Winnipeg
November 11--Calgary @ Saskatchewan

Saturday, November 03, 2007

CFL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK, NUMBER EIGHTEEN

Week number eighteen saw the CFL hand out it's Roger's player of the week awards.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
STEFAN LEFORS--QB--EDMONTON ESKIMOS
Runner Up: Jason Clermont, BC

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
RANDEE DREW--DB--MONTREAL ALOUETTES
Runner Up: Kenny Wheaton, Toronto, Tristan Clovis, Saskatcehwan

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
RAYMOND FONTAINE--DE--TORONTO ARGONAUTS
Runner Up: Damon Duval, Montreal

CANADIAN PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JASON CLERMONT--SB--BC LIONS
Unanimous selection

Week Nineteen (November 2 and 3)

The final week of the regular season, two games of importance for placements highlight the schedule. Winnipeg's bid to wrestle first place from Toronto gets underway on Friday night, while the Argos can claim the prize as their own on Saturday. While the remaining two games provide a rest for key players or an audition for next season.


November 2- Montreal 17 @ Winnipeg 20
November 3- Calgary 24 @ BC 25
November 3- Edmonton 18 @ Hamilton 21
November 3- Toronto 41 @ Saskatchewan 13

The Final snaps of November 2007

November 28-- "It needed to be done this way,"
November 27-- "You don't have to wait 18 and 23 or whatever amount of years between Grey Cups. You don't"
November 26-- "I am freezing. I can't even say how cold I am right now"
November 25-- "That play's going to sit with me all off-season, man"
November 24-- "'My greatest sadness is for a fan base that has been mistreated by this league"
November 23-- "And I had to explain that, 'No, there's another guy out there"
November 22-- "That's when my dad knew Ryan was meant to be a quarterback,"
November 21-- "Other than getting married and the birth of my daughter, this is the biggest thing that's ever happened to me."
November 20-- "I hope they have some extra infrastructure funds to rebuild Toronto"
November 19-- "I'm elated for them"
November 18-- "It’s unfortunate, but we’ve got to play with the cards we’re dealt"
November 17-- "It's hard for me to imagine why anyone would need motivation or inspiration right now"
November 16- "I believe the decision is right to start Jarious"
November 15- "It's the attitude I take into the playoffs"
November 14- "There's a little bit of bad blood"
November 13- "I'm definitely not a quitter"
November 12- "We'll be giving it everything we've got, but we'd be doing that anyway regardless of whether the game was here or in Nunavut"
November 11- "It was the game"
November 10- "We like it that way"
November 9- "Let people think what they want to think"
November 8- "I have a great idea what it's like there"
November 7- "But I also know that, in my heart of hearts, that someday I'll do something else. "
November 6- "It kind of feels like they've lost faith in you"
November 5- "The new general manager coming in has to understand that winning is the only option"
November 4- "I think the owner's a moron, myself"
November 3- "We should have blown them cats out"
November 2- "He has done what was asked and has been patient"
November 1- "We've been in one extreme or the other"

Opening kick offs November 2007

November 28-- Riders looking forward to an excuse-free CFL off-season
November 28-- Grey Cup a financial success
November 28-- Getzlaf family earns another championship
November 27-- Time to follow the bouncing plot lines
November 27-- Popp out as Alouettes head coach
November 27-- Dickenson keeping his options open
November 26-- Wasn't that a party!
November 26-- Lions feel salary-cap squeeze and cut Dickenson
November 26-- Riders get warm reception in chilly weather
November 25-- Riders win Cup
November 25-- 'We love 'em anyway'
November 25-- Green glory: Riders win sloppy Grey Cup
November 24-- If Roughriders win, look out
November 24-- Blue Bombers hoping for fairy-tale ending to season
November 24-- Ray looks for early Christmas gift from Esks
November 23-- The Prairie Classic: Banjos not required
November 23-- Head Lion roars hearty approval of Hufnagel
November 23-- Health scare makes Grey Cup sweeter for Tillman
November 22-- Riders QB Joseph chosen as CFL's top player
November 22-- Austin could make history with a Grey Cup win
November 22-- Clemons to step down as Argos coach: reports
November 21-- Former outcast welcomed back to the congregation
November 21-- Backstage to centre stage
November 21-- Candy never stopped caring
November 20-- Riders arrive in Big Smoke
November 20-- Glenn has faith in back up
November 20-- Grey Cup lands in Toronto
November 19-- Dinwiddie to make first start in Grey Cup
November 19-- Airport greeting was just awesome
November 19-- Lions wrap up season
November 18-- Riding on
November 18-- A Prairie Grey Cup
November 18-- Blue Bombers get their big break
November 17-- Fading Dickenson supports decision to start Jackson
November 17-- Grey Cup needs Argos and Riders
November 17-- Braley shows the way
November 16-- The Most loved man in sports
November 16-- Arbitrator rules Lions' Jimenez can play
November 16-- Coach of the year?
November 15-- 'Riders lineman ready for fearsome five
November 15-- Stampeders fire Higgins
November 15-- A quarterback controversy likely to emerge in Montreal
November 14-- Cohon lays down the law
November 14-- Riders hope next Grey Cup they see will be real thing
November 14-- "Huff" takes the reins
November 13-- Kicking the cobwebs
November 13-- Jimenez to appeal one-game suspension
November 13-- Eskimos retain Maciocia
November 12-- Players could have input on Popp's future
November 12-- It was home sweet home for the Roughriders
November 12-- League we love to laugh about has fumbled this one
November 11-- Green Glory
November 11-- Blue do just enough
November 11-- Simpson makes stand when it counts most
November 10--Embattled Higgins shows character
November 10--Can't escape the Rider pride
November 10--Bombers want to send Stegall out in style
November 9-- Final farewell for CBC
November 9-- Calvillo's wife battles cancer
November 9-- First doesn't always guarantee success
November 8-- 'Riders on the rise
November 8-- All not well with Alouettes
November 8-- Clemons hasn't decided whether he'll retire
November 7-- Higgins out, Hufnagel in as Stamps head coach
November 7-- Hamilton after O'Billovich?
November 7-- CFL commissioner vows to make Grey Cup a greener event
November 6-- On hallowed ground
November 6-- Eskimos in need of a complete house cleaning
November 6-- Ticats' moves will ripple across CFL
November 5-- CFL and CBC change start times for Rembrance Day semi-finals
November 5-- Ray comes to defence of Eskimos coach
November 5-- CFL admits gaffe and gives DeAngelis his due
November 4-- Ticats fire general manager Desjardins
November 4-- Alouettes sign kick return specialist Levingston
November 4-- Robertson finds home and all-star spot in Toronto
November 3-- Argos clinch East Division crown
November 3-- Walker's punt return TD sparks Ticats victory
November 3-- Lions beat Stampeders 25-24 to carry momentum into playoffs
November 2-- Bombers back in first
November 2-- Riders on a roll as season winds down
November 2-- Hitchcock at peace with ending versus Ticats
November 1-- Dickenson's future a question mark
November 1-- Lions have 15 West All-Stars; Bombers have 10 East stars
November 1-- Even Stamps stars stumped they're left at home