Monday, December 3, 2018

11th Annual Rider Prophet Awards

These awards are fairly unique in terms of their set-up. While most sports awards recognize the best in their field (outstanding achievement in the field of excellence if you will), these awards recognize the rest in their field as well as things that I find generally entertaining. While most sports awards are voted on by a large contingent including media (only about half of whom actually know what the hell they are talking about), these awards are quite arbitrarily awarded based on my own whims with the exception of one award which is voted on by the fans. Lastly, while most sports awards are something recipients are proud to receive, these awards are something that most recipients would avoid acknowledging publicly.

Let’s get to the awards. This year’s winners will receive the chance to host the 2026 Olympics… since no one else seems to want to.

Best Player Name
Honourable mentions to Wil Likely and Boobie Hobbs but this year’s winner is Montreal DB Armagedon Draughns. Seriously, how cool a name is Armagedon? With a name like that he pretty much had to go into professional sports or security. I just can’t see a guy named Armegedon doing my taxes attending to my medical needs.

Previous Winners: Rakeem Cox, Akawasi Owusu-Ansah, Lirim Hajrullahu, SirVincent Rogers, Drew Willy, Bear Woods, Solomon Elimimian, Craphonso Thorpe, Charleston Hughes, Chijioke Onyenegecha

Quote of the Year
I almost hesitated in naming this quote the winner. I love the quote and most people like me found it entertaining. But a vocal contingent blew this completely out of proportion with feigned outrage. What cinched it for me was when the Bombers embraced it and started selling shirts.

Your winner is Dave Dickenson for "F'ing Canadians"

Previous Winners: Kavis Reed/Jacques Chapdelaine, Greg Quick, Solomon Elimimian, Ed Hervey, Joe Mack, Henry Burris, Eddie Johnson, Jason Clermont, Mike Abou-Mechrek x2

Play of the Year
Two of the best moments from this season were not actually eligible for this award as they were not actual plays. I still feel they deserve special mention. I’m talking about the Mike Sherman striptease and Jason Maas vs. the Gatorade jug.

With those 2 out of contention, one remaining play stood out among all the others. There is an old adage that if you are going to run your mouth, you better be prepared to back it up. The Lions’ Gary Peters learned this lesson the hard way when he decided to call on Duke Williams. This is what we call a natural consequence. 

Botched Call of the Year
I briefly considered going in a different direction with this award because there were certainly some doozies to chose from. The botched chain measurement from Labour Day certainly comes to mind. But I know my readers and I know there would have been outcry if I didn’t mention headshots here. This is what we in the business call blatant pandering.

Rather than one play I will give this award to the collective inability for the refs to call headshots on QBs. Obviously the Collaros and Bridge one’s are the most talked about but Lulay took an uncalled headshot early in the season and there were probably others I’m forgetting.

It’s ridiculous that these keep going uncalled. It’s ridiculous that the replay official can correct an offside call but not headshot. The official can remove a player whose brains have been scrambled by a headshot (usually many plays later in the game) but they can’t assess a penalty. Fixing this needs to be an offseason priority.

I will add in that rather than just complaining about how little the league is doing, the CFLPA could maybe tell their members to stop trying to kill other members and agree to harsher penalties for those that do. That is if they are really serious about player safety and not just grand standing against the League. (end rant).

The Commercial I Didn’t Get Sick of Seeing Even Though TSN Made Me Watch It 54,297 Times Award
I’ll tell you what commercial I did get sick of seeing… that damn Nissan commercial that played roughly 100 times per game. Note to Nissan: I’m glad you are a proud sponsor of the CFL but that ad on endless repeat made me less likely to ever consider purchasing that vehicle.

Honourable mention to Fountain Tire for their “Nan’s smile is nice, but useless” ad but this year’s winner is Belair Direct for their series of  Football Simplified quick ads. Simple, quick, funny.

See a bunch here:

Most Insulted Sports Figure
While there were times that it looked like Steve McAdoo was destined to repeat here, a new front runner emerged. It proved to be the only thing his person would excel at. I'm talking of course about Brandon Bridge. By far he led the pact in terms of me insulting him in this space. Brandon Bridge. Joins the like of Sunseri, Bishop and Dinwiddie in terms of Rider QBs I have loathed. I’m sure he’s a nice guy off the field but he is utterly useless on it.

I have never been a Bridge fan. I've long contended that if he wasn't Canadian no one would care about him. But this year he took things to a new level. He managed to look awful in an offense that allowed him only to hand off and throw screens. He runs like a baby deer learning to walk and still thinks that his horrible attempts at huddling are a good idea (they are not). He is so inaccurate in his passes that fans in the front row are more likely to catch his pass attempts than our receivers. I could maybe be more forgiving if he was a developing QB but he's a 4 year vet. This is as good as it gets.

Previous Winners: Steve McAdoo, The Riders Secondary, Any Rider QB not named Durant, Pat Neufeld, Chris Getzlaf, Ryan Dinwiddie, Jim Daley, Michael Bishop x 2, Marcel Bellefeuille

Fans’ Choice Douche-Bag of the Year
You the fans have spoken yet again… and in record number. A total of 163 votes were received including an amazing 8 write in votes for the likes of Odell Willis, Duron Carter, Chris Jones, Jackson Jeffcoat, Jonathan Rose, Blue Bomber fans and my personal favourite the media who pretended the Riders' O wasn't awful.

The voting was way closer than I expected. I underestimated how much you people hate Dave Dickenson. Personally I think he's an angel compared to other nominees but this is a fan vote and he came in 2nd. 

You the fans have decided that with 45% (74 out of a possible 163 votes) Jason Maas is your Douche Bag of the Year for the second year in a row.

I doubt this will shock anyone. Between his yelling, his tantrums and his assaults on innocent sideline objects he's an easy choice. Used to be that pretty much anyone outside of Edmonton hated him but now his support even in Edmonton is slipping after missing the playoffs despite fielding the top QB in the league. It will take something pretty douchy to keep Maas from three-peating in 2019.

Previous Winners: Jason Maas, Cory Chamblin, Chris Jones, Jon Cornish x2, Henry Burris, Dwight Anderson, Mike Kelly, Jason Jimenez, Rob Murphy

Monday, November 26, 2018

Monday Morning Sentimonies: That's A Wrap

Unless you happen to be a fan of the Stampeders (and therefore a terrible person with questionable decision making for spending this morning reading a Rider blog) its the saddest Monday on the calendar. It signifies no more Canadian football until May. For Montreal and Toronto fans its a bit easier to take because they've been dealing with this feeling since the early fall. 

Sunday all the collective "anybody but Calgary" wishing in Canada was not enough to keep Calgary away from the Cup for a third straight year... mainly because Ottawa seemed intent on making sure that didn't happen. Calgary played a decent (not great) game but won the ever important "screw up the least" battle. And its not like they didn't screw up. For a while it looked like no one wanted to win the game. 

Ottawa just made too many mistakes. Punting to the middle of the field in the dying seconds of the half. Fumbling. Passing the bulk of their second half offense on failed attempts to chuck it deep.  They also sent three man rush far too much (god I'm even stuck saying this in games not involving Chris Jones). The book on Bo is you need to pressure him to fluster him. Sending minimal pressure is curiously deciding to play into his strengths.

Credit to the Stamps (pauses to vomit). They was likely the least stacked roster they had in the past 3 Cups but it was the one that made enough plays to get it done. It is reassuring that the "weaker" East division finally didn't win the Cup.

The offseason may be upon us but don't go anywhere. I will have insight, analysis and a bunch of filler that may of may not be funny to help get you through the long months ahead. It all starts next Monday with the Annual Rider Prophet Awards

Other random thoughts:
- The dude in the Reklaws' pants were tighter than the chicks... by a wide margin.

- Shame that the biggest game of the year was  played on such a crappy field surface. I hope future Grey Cup bids require a contingency plan to ensure the big game showcases the best of Canadian football not Ice-capades. 

- I thought the half time show was pretty solid given that I'd never heard the performer before. 

- Trevor Harris apparently used up all his good play last week.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Grey Cup Thoughts

Congratulations if you made it through the week without finding yourself too drunk to curl. Not everyone in Canada can say that. Your reward for making it through the week is probably spending a ton of money on crap you don't need purely because it was on sale. But should you make it past that there is the biggest football game in Canadian football on Sunday as the 106th Grey Cup goes down between the RedBlacks and Stampeders.

If you are one the many people who has made the pilgrimage to Edmonton... I hate you. Not like actually hate but just am very jealous and cope by cursing you all silently. I hope you understand. 

The big story of the game will of course be whether the Stampeders will channel their inner Bills and lose yet another championship. I don't think many people are actually cheering FOR the RedBlacks but rather cheering AGAINST the Stamps and by default ending up pro Ottawa. The weird thing is that if I compare the past 3 Stamp teams this is arguably the least talented across the board. Not that the 2018 Stamps are bad just not as stacked as some of those previous teams. But I think this is the one that has the best chance of actually getting the job done. Not saying they will just that I think they have the least chance of choking. 

Lots of attention will be paid to the Harris vs. Mitchell battle but for me, this is all about the defense. Noel Thorpe vs. DeVone Claybrooks. Whichever guy schemes up the best game plan will win the game for his team. I could honestly see a low scoring games despite the talent level of the offenses involved. These were the 2 stingiest D's in the regular season. In terms of weapons Ottawa has the edge. In terms of experience at QB Calgary has the edge... though all his recent history relates to how to lose Grey Cups.  Also in the Stamps favour is Eric Rodgers. Dude is ridiculous and all he does is score. Noel Thorpe needs to find a way to keep the ball away from him.

As much as I would like to see Calgary's misery extend another year (I'm petty like that), if I'm betting (and I most likely will) I'm betting on the Stamps in a close one. I just hope its an exciting game befitting the biggest game of the year.

I honestly don't know what to expect of the halftime show. I legit have no clue who the headliner is but I'm at that age where if people tell me she is popular, I'll believe them. Have something on fire and something doing flips in the background (possible the thing that is on fire) and I'll be entertained.

Enjoy the game.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Cast Your Vote

On December 3rd I will be handing out the Annual Rider Prophet Awards. I once inadvertently omitted the second N and the U from that title. It actually generated a ton of interest but just not from by traditional target market. Anyway… the Awards means its time to cast your vote for one of the most dubious distinctions there is… the Fans’ Choice Douchebag of the Year.

This year we have 4 nominees who have excelled in the field of douchebaggery. Please cast your vote for your favourite. (There is also a Twitter poll if that’s more your thing. Votes sent by carrier pigeon or singing telegram are accepted and count double)

Here are this year’s nominees:

Kyries Hebert – Nominated for yet again trying to end the career of a fellow player with a nasty cheap shot to the head not once but twice. Added bonus was him trying to use his involvement in the community as justification for why is wasn’t a dirty player.

Toronto Argonauts – Nominated for firing Marc Trestman... by phone… at 2am. Obviously things weren’t working great in Toronto and something needed to change but at least have the decency to do it in person during daylight hours… especially when you know the difficulties going on in Trestman’s personal life.

Dave Dickenson – To be clear this has nothing to do with the F'n Canadians comment (that I actually found entertaining). He's nominated because he consistently comes across as a whiner on the sideline mics and cameras.

Jason Maas – Defending champion in this category. Screamer, tantrum thrower, attempted Gatorade jug assaulter, post season avoider. It can be easy to sweep his childish behaviour under the carpet when he’s winning but when you miss the playoffs it really makes you wonder why you are tolerating it.

Jon Cornish – Did absolutely nothing of note but it was requested by you the fans that he be a perennial nominee no matter what. (Predicting he finishes no lower than 3rd in voting because people are that spiteful)

Other - Please leave the name of anyone else you feel deserves consideration in the comments section.

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Monday, November 19, 2018

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Division Final Thoughts

The second last weekend of CFL football delivered one close match-up and one ass kicking. From big plays to questionable calls to scraps on the field,Sunday had everything... it even capped off with Bomber tears.

Let's start out East where the RedBlacks just embarrassed the Ti-Cats. Had it not been for Jonathan Rose and the brewhaha he caused, I likely would have tuned out much earlier. It's probably for the best that BC didn't make it to the East final because if the Ti-Cats beat the the Lions by 40 and then lost by 19 that would tell me the RedBlacks would have won by 59. Yay for math! Hamilton just had no answer defensively for the Ottawa offense. Hamilton let just vaunted offensive threats as Gillanders, Beaulieu and Dubois score. Game highlights for me included the aforementioned Rose being an absolute idiot (seriously how do you not at all pause in that situation and go "Should I push this striped guy over this pile?") Bonus points to Rod Black for doing something right for once and perfectly using the term donnybrook. The other highlight was Ottawa showing a fairly graphic chair shot on Ric Flair late in the game (not sure why TSN thought that was a good idea to show that). It led to a bunch of Wooo's from the crowd. That's some quality trolling.

In the West, I can't really by happy because f&*% the Stamps but I would be lying if I said that seeing Winnipeg's Grey Cup drought extend another year didn't make me feel good. Seriously, decades from now my grandkids will ask me if its true that the Bombers actually used to win Cups. By that point my memory will be long gone and I will honestly answer No. The Bombers played well but just could not stop Eric Rogers. The ultra conservative "don't make Nichols do anything" offense didn't work. He did so little in the playoffs that he might as well have been playing for the Riders' O. Mitchell did not play that good but he at least knew what the endzone was for. The highlight in that game was Dave Dickenson whining on the sidelines (you're shocked I'm sure) the quote seems to be "Why do all the flags thrown in front of Mike O'Shea? Because he's a bleeping Canadian" except he didn't say bleeping. Didn't want to offend any of my readers' sensitive ears. Tell us how you really feel Dave. 

This all sets up an Ottawa Calgary Grey Cup where we all hope that Stampeders continue their choking Grey Cup ways. 

Tomorrow I will be unveiling the nominees for Fans' Choice Douchebag of the Year  award an opening voting. Who will you the fans choose to honour for their outstanding achievements in the the field of douchebaggery?

Friday, November 16, 2018

Obligatory Playoff Commentary

There is plenty to dissect in the wake of the 2018 Rider season. What went wrong? Where to from here? Who stays? Who goes? Who gets signed in free agency and cut by August? But I will save all that for the long offseason. We will have 6 months of no football coming up and will need something to fill it. If I use up all my Rider material now, there's no telling what depths I'll have to sink to come February to fill space on this blog. Top options could include: past players I've had unjustified hatreds of, live blogging of me shopping for groceries, how POG should make a comeback and so on.

For now let's talk football while we still can. It's never as much fun when your team is out of it but if we let that stop us there are large portions of the 80s and 90s where we would have stopped watching football in September. Let's take a look at the match-ups.

Out East the RedBlacks host the Ti-Cats. Like most Rider fan I'm all in on the Ti-Cats as the team I'm cheering (I'm sure that can't mean good things for Hamilton... I'm sorry). It's been a long time since they've had a Cup. They don't currently have any players I have. Lots to like here. The thing is I think they will be in tough. It's one thing to whoop a hapless Lion team at home. Its another thing to go into to Hamilton and take out Noel Thorpe's defense with so many top offensive weapons out. What Hamilton does have going for them is Trevor Harris' playoff record. He's not exactly known as a crunch time performer. As much as I'll be pulling for Hamilton, I would bet on the RedBlacks to have a strong D and adequate QB play and win.

In the West, I have been going over scenarios that could result in both teams losing. All 44 players on both team are declared ineligible to play.  Both teams smotten from above. Immigration issues found will all import players. Both coaches renounce violent conflict and declare a peaceful truce and tie. Unfortunately those seem unlikely. Someone is going to win. As difficult a choice as this is, I guess I'm going with the Stamps. A) I'm fickle and want to see the Bombers' misery passed down to my grandchildren. I know that makes me a bad person. B) We can count on the Stamps to choke the following week anyway. Its win-win.

So let's enjoy the second last weekend of CFL action. Given how things have been going somehow David Watford will end up taking a head shot this week. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Tuesday Morning Sentimonies: Fitting End

Riders 18 - Bombers 23

The 2018 season came to a disappointing but fitting end on Sunday. In a season that was marked by an inability to produce offensive points, that was unsurprisingly what did us in when it mattered most. We were just 1 TD short but really the game put our offensive shortcomings on full display. 

Our offense wasn't very good at the best of times and Brandon Bridge starting is about as far opposite of best of times as it can get. I am not exactly a charter member of the Steve McAdoo fan club but I won't put this one on him. The plays were there. Receivers were open. We had our chances. He just had the misfortune of having to start at QB who could not come within an area code of hitting his receivers. Bridge missed at 2 open receivers for TDs on the same drive. He couldn't see wide open receivers. He threw short on deep passes, inside on outside passes, into the goal posts while overthrowing a WR in the endzone and generally displayed not ability to make a play if the first read was not there. Its not McAdoo's fault that Odell Willis knocked our good QB out of play. You could certainly blame the GM for getting this far into the season with a back-up QB who the best thing you can say about him is that he's better than Tino Sunseri. The only positive thing I can say about Bridge is that it was the best I've seen him run. Not awkward, decisive, resisted the urge to do his terrible attempt at hurdling.  I thought we did a pretty good job of hiding his shortcomings in the first quarter, things slowly unraveled from there. I thought we failed to find ways to get speedy guys like Moore and Thigpen more involved. I do think we could have won if Collaros had played but coulda's count for as much as Alouette playoff tickets. He didn't play. We didn't have a good enough QB backing him up. End of story.

Defense played good... the only problem is that we are built to win with great defense. Good just doesn't cut it. The only real knock on the D was that they had no answer for the Bomber OL and Harris in the second half. We couldn't stop the run when it mattered most. We also weren't able to force a turnover. Still 3 sacks and only 23 point allowed is a pretty good day especially given that the Bombers were the top scoring O.

Special teams did their jobs. We got solid returns, made all out kicks and kept their returns to a minimum. 

Losing sucks. Losing to the Bombers sucks more but they were the better team on Sunday. I now feel so dirty I need to go shower (something most Bomber fans don't feel the need to do). It was a good season, we have a lot to be proud of and a solid foundation to build from. But if we don't come up with a better plan at QB its hard to see a different finish in store.

Kudos to the fans that showed up and got loud. For me, nothing beats the roar of the crowd on game day. See you next season.

Obligatory comment on the head shot (again): Look the missed penalty did not affect the outcome of the game but it sucks balls to have it happen to us in back to back games. To me there is a pretty simple solution. The eye in the sky can be used to correct an offside call but yet in a league that preaches "player safety" it can't be used currently to call head shots. That makes absolutely no sense. I'm also all for ejections and suspensions for malicious head shots but those changes are not as easy to implement as simply letting the replay official call head shots.