Friday, December 21, 2007

Marcel Bellefeuille

As promised, I have finally collected my thoughts enough to comment on Marcel Bellefeuille joining the Ti-cats.

I thought maybe with Bob O’Billovich calling the shots now we might see some logic in Hamilton’s moves… evidently I was wrong. Apparently Hamilton reasoned that the best way to improve their offense, which was the worst in the league last season, was to sign the man responsible for league’s 2nd lowest scoring offense.

Let’s take a look at Marcel’s track record as Offensive Coordinator in the CFL. He was our offensive Coordinator in ‘03 and ‘04 when we got as far as the West Final and ‘05 when we lost the East Semi. In 2007, he became the OC in Montreal and led them to another East Semi loss. So to sum up, Grey Cup rings – 0, Grey Cup appearances – 0. I can see how reading this resume you would think to yourself “This is the guy to rejuvenate our offense”.

I was really hoping that Marcel would end up on a good team so he could sabotage their offense like he did for the Als. Then again I guess that good teams are good because they make wise decisions... like not hiring Bellefeuille. I’d say Marcel will sabotage the Ti-cat offense but that would imply that they have an offense to begin with (they really can’t get much worse).

The Rider Prophet Award for Most Insulted Sports Figure was handed out 2 short weeks ago and already Marcel is a heavy favorite to repeat. I just may set a new record for Bellefeuille jokes next year.

But you know when I think about it, Hamilton may just be the best fit for Marcel in the CFL. They have a good running back to execute the shotgun draw and they don’t have a receiver that would even resemble a deep threat. If there was ever a team suited for ball control offense, Hamilton is it. I know right now you must be saying “What about Chris Bauman? He can go deep.” While there is no denying Bauman’s ability to go deep, to be considered a “threat” you must be able to catch the ball when you are deep. In this respect, Bauman comes up short … as short as Bellefeuille’s offense on 2nd down (zing… and so it begins).

This will be my last post until the New Year as I will be away on holidays over Christmas. So all the best to you over the holiday season. In the enduring words of Homer Simpson “HoHoHo, Merry Everyone!”

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wednesday Picture

In the spirit of the season, I decided to give this Wednesday's picture a Christmas theme. It may surprise you to hear that quite often the Rider Prophet is mistaken for Santa Claus when he goes out in public (I guess my beard isn't quite long enough to pass for ZZ Top).

So here's a little comparison to illustrate the differences between myself and Jolly Old St. Nick

· Santa wears red and white. Prophet wears green and white
· Santa resides at the North Pole. Prophet resides on the west side of Mosaic Stadium
· Santa's diet consists of milk and cookies. Prophet's diet is mainly rye and park burgers
· Santa rides around in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Prophet prefers an Oldsmobile
· Santa delivers presents to children around the world. Prophet delivers politically incorrect humour to sports fans around the world.
· Santa employs an army of elves. Prophet employs a Media Consultant and Field Reporter (though I pay them the same as Santa's elves).
· Santa gets letters asking for presents. Prophet gets a mixture of hate mail and requests for his banking information.
· Santa enters people's houses through the chimney while they are sleeping. Prophet has been told by the courts to stop doing this.
· Santa has children sit on his lap down at the mall. Again, the courts have asked Prophet to stop doing this.
· Santa is known as Father Christmas. Prophet has been called daddy on more than one occasion
· Santa is a popular icon among those who celebrate Christmas. Prophet's popularity transcends religion.
· Santa is well known for his big sack. Prophet... never mind.

So as you can see, the differences between Santa and the Rider Prophet are many. Take that Santa.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Now with over 50% actual news

So, I thought with Christmas being just over a week away and CFL news being harder to find than Bin Laden (chances are this comment will probably put my blog on the FBI watch list... oh well any press is good press), I would just coast until Christmas with some filler posts that really had nothing to do with football. Then along came the Montreal Alouettes with a move too amazing for me to not comment on.

The Als had an impressive list of candidates to fill their vacant head coach position: Two time coach of the year Tom Higgins, defensive genius Richie Hall, Steve Buratto who has coached multiple teams to Grey Cup appearances and Greg Marshall who coached Winnipeg's strong defense. With so many strong candidates, it was clear the Als had a tough choice to make. But much to their delight they never had to choose between these 4 as a candidate came along whose resume far exceeded the others. Who, might you ask, was so impressive as to beat out the likes of Higgins, Hall, Buratto and Marshall? Why none other than Marc Trestman.

Now if you're like the rest of the world, right now you're asking "Who the hell is Marc Trestman?!" Well after a little bit of research I've found out that he has been an assistant coach in college and the NFL for the past number of years. Most notably as the offensive coordinator for Oakland and Miami. And what of his CFL experience you ask... well his impressive experience coaching Canadian football puts him in the same league as Willie Nelson, Lorne Calvert and the Yellow Power Ranger (is that show even still on TV?). Yes, Montreal president Larry Smith, in his infinite wisdom, decided a man with no CFL experience was the best man for the job. So that means that the Alouettes are now being run by a GM who is disgruntled about being demoted from head coach and a head coach who knows nothing about the CFL. Awesome! Great news if you're a Rider fan or a fan of any east team not named Hamilton. Although to be fair, despite his lack of anything resembling CFL experience, Trestman will still be a big improvement over Popp.

In other news, recent Rider Prophet Award winner Marcel Bellefeuille is poised to join the Hamilton Ti-Cats as their offensive coordinator... Bellefeuille... in Hamilton?!?... I'm sorry this is just too much, I'm going to need a minute to digest this before I can comment. I may have to devote my Friday post to this topic.... Bellefeuille?... in Hamilton?... I'm just speechless... it's like Christmas came early this year!

Finally, last week I attended a charity basketball game featuring members of the Saskatchewan Roughriders playing a team of midgets and I've compiled a video montage of the highlights. Enjoy...
Riders Charity Basketball game.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Smarter than the Average Die Hard… Predictions Revisited

During training camp in June, I made a number of predictions regarding the upcoming season. To prove that I'm more than a prophet in name alone, I thought I would go back and see just how accurate my predictions were. My 16 predictions are listed below and I will mark them on the following scale: 1 point for being right, 0.5 for being close, and 0 for being wrong.

Our start will be shaky but we'll steadily improve
As Joseph and the receivers settle into a groove.

We started 2-2 and then proceeded to rattle off 5 wins... 1 point

Losing Morgan and Bush may be cause for despair,
But I have a feeling Rontarious will intercept his fair share
Unless you interpret "fair share" to mean 1 INT... 0 points.

Eddie Davis will bring a young secondary along,
And under the guidance of Richie the defense will grow strong.

Overall we struggled but had best run D in the league and we won the Grey Cup solely on the strength of our defense who played outstanding in the playoffs when it counts… 1 point

Our linebackers look solid with Stancil, Lloyd, Jones and Hunt
These 4 combined for 11 sacks, 4 INTs, 2 West All-Star spots and we were the best at stopping the run... 1 point

And what's this? Special teams? Luca learned how to punt!
He may have improved but he's no Juggernaut... 0 points

Watch for a breakout season from Andy Fantuz.
940 yds, 7 TDs, 3 time Canadian of the Week, 1 time Canadian of the month, Most Outstanding Canadian in the Grey Cup... 1 point

We shall start 5-5 and fans will be mad
We started 7-3, fans rather jovial... 0 points

As with every year, we will need to be patient
But have no fear, Austin's team won't be complacent
5 straight wins after losing 2, 5 more after losing 3, "everything is up for review" rant following ugly loss... 1 point

He will make adjustments and bench some big names
Benched Fantuz (Clovis and Justin too but they're not really big names)... 1 point

After years in the trenches with no recognition,
O'Day wins Lineman of the Year - unrivaled at his position.

Rider nominee for the award and the CFL All-Star Centre... 0.5 points

He'll be joined on the podium by sack leader Fred Perry,
Defensive Player of the Year, his pass rush was scary

His pass rush was scary but no award and no sack lead… 0 points

We're good for 2nd place at 11 and 7,
A home playoff game! The Rider Nation is in heaven
I was only 1 game from perfection... 1 point

The path through the playoffs looks much like '06
Same West-semi and west final... 1 point

Except the Stamps come to Mosaic - Henry still throws four picks.
Stamps turned the ball over 4 times in the game... it was a metaphor... 1 point

Yet again in the final the Lions we face
1 point

But as history dictates we will fail at BC Place.
Once again we'll be close but end with a tear.
We'll have a good run but have to wait one more year

I will gladly accept 0 points here

Total = 10.5 points out of a possible 16 for 66%

So ends my completely arbitrary breakdown of my pre-season predictions. I expected a solid season from the Riders, but I'm happy to say that the team by far exceeded my early expectations! That said though, 66% is a rather disappointing performance. Although I have to think Troy Westwood is a little jealous right now.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tis’ the Season

Can you believe that Christmas is only 2 weeks away? If you're like me this means that you've only now started to think about what to get the people on your Christmas list and you'll hopefully get around to actually buying the gifts next week sometime. This will no doubt involve running a half marathon to get from your parking spot to the store, fighting your way though crowds of hapless shoppers who are there just to browse and waiting in line so long that you grow a beard that would rival mine. Don't you just love Christmas?

Here's a holiday shopping tip from the Rider Prophet to help you avoid the stresses of Christmas shopping: Wal-Mart is open 24 hours now. Tell your friends and family to only include items on their wish list that can be purchased at Wal-Mart at 3am. Or if you want a unique gift idea... autographed Rider Prophet pictures are available for a reasonable rate.

Of course if you have Rider fans on your list, shopping is easier this year than the rest of the Patriots’ schedule. In addition to all the regular Rider paraphernalia (which is all of a sudden cool again), the new line of Grey Cup gear is also out. Rider gear is flying off the shelves faster than a Crown Corporation at a SaskParty yard sale. You could slap a Rider logo on pretty much anything these days and make some money.

With that in mind I came up with my Top 10 list of new products I would like to see the Riders start selling...

10) Eric Tillman Chia Pet
9) Jamie Boreham action figure - complete with Juggernaut costume
8) John Chick home blood sugar tester
7) T-shirt that says "If Gainer doesn't wear pants, why should I?"
6) Talking Mike Abou-Mechrek doll
5) Norm Fong weight loss system
4) Luca Congi disappearing All-Star award
3) T-shirt that says "I stood in the Mosaic parking lot overnight and all
I got was cold"
2) Chris Szarka three fingered glove
1) Austin Mini - refurbished, still some dents.

If you have an idea for Rider merchandise, post it in the comments and I'll be sure to steal the idea and pass it off as my own. Until then, happy shopping Rider fans.

Oh and by the way... the Riders have re-signed Wayne Smith and Wes Cates (I figure my blog should contain at least trace amounts of actual news).

Friday, December 7, 2007

First Annual Rider Prophet Awards

Ladies and Gentlemen: It’s time to present the First Annual Rider Prophet Awards. I’d like to say that this is a highly anticipated moment but quite frankly I’d be lying. In fact, the only awards that I think are less prestigious than these are the Robby’s… and possibly the Daytime Emmy’s.

So without further adieu…

Best Player Name
Chijioke Onyenegecha. Any defensive player whose name is essentially pronounced “I'm Gonna Getcha” deserves an award in my books.

Quote of the year
Rider offensive lineman Mike Abou-Mechrek on why offensive linemen make such good interviews: "A lot of offensive linemen are articulate because we were all fat growing up. Not a lot of the chicks liked us so we had to make up for it by reading books, learning to speak properly and relying on our smarts. I'm probably the best looking offensive lineman in the league, so it was easy for me."

Play of the Year
There are so many memorable moments from this past season. However, the Play of the Year for me came on Aug 25th when the Ti-cats played the Alouettes. While Jason Maas was trying to call an audible, his centre spontaneously snapped the ball past Maas’ head. It's not often that you can encapsulate a team's entire season in one play, but Hamilton managed to do it on that beauty.

Botched Call of the Year
For this award the potential list of nominees was longer than a morning lineup at Tim Hortons. From phantom pass interference calls to botched challenges that have convinced me that when refs go “under the hood” they are watching the cartoon network as opposed to actual game footage, officiating was a gongshow this year. There was one call however that went beyond the normal ineptitude and set a new standard for reffing screw ups. The one that takes the cake was the “onside kick that never happened” when we played Winnipeg. On an onside kick attempt, Milt Stegall and Tad Kornegay simultaneously touched the ball before it went out of bounds. Therefore, by rule (or at least by a CFL official’s logic), since both players touched the ball at the same time it cancels out and the ball is deemed to have been kicked out of bounds.

Best Rider Blog
In what is believed to be the largest landslide in the history of award show voting… The Rider Prophet
(I’d like to congratulate the other nominees.., unfortunately there were no other nominees since no Rider blog is even in the same league as me. In fact, some bloggers didn't even think an event as significant as a Grey Cup win was worth mentioning).

Fans Choice Douche-Bag of the Year
You, the fans, have spoken and with 59% of the votes Jason Jimenez is your choice for Douche-Bag of the Year. Jimenez, a member of the BC hoggies that put the “offensive” back in offensive line, made headlines this season for a block on Calgary Stampeders defensive lineman Anthony Gargiulo in the final game of the regular season. Gargiulo suffered a broken leg in 3 places plus torn ligaments and tendons on the play and needed surgery to implant a plate in his leg. The block was so dirty that even fellow Douche-Bag of the Year nominee AJ Gass was disgusted.

Most Insulted Sports Figure
Well we’ve had a lot of fun this season and most of that fun has come at the expense of players and coaches from across the league. Some of my top targets included Jim Popp, Jason French and Henry Burris. And just to prove that I am an equal opportunity insulter, I also took repeated shots at the Riders’ own Henri Childs and James Johnson.

In what is no doubt the worst kept secret since the ending of Titanic… The most insulted Sports figure of the year goes to the one and only… Marcel Bellefeuille. All season long Marcel was my primary target when it came to dolling out insults.

I’ve often wondered if Marcel ever reads any of the hurtful things I’ve written about him. If so I really hope that he has a sense of humour… which he must since his offense is a joke (aww look at me… I can’t even resist taking a shot at him while I honour him with an award).

Monday, December 3, 2007

Is this the end?

Now that the CFL season has come to an end, I'm sure many of you are wondering what will become of the Rider Prophet? Well fear not, for the Rider Prophet will not be shutting things down in the offseason. So those of you who need your Prophet fix can breathe a sigh of relief.

I've got enough material to keep posting regularly until Christmas, at which point I will be taking a week or so off. In the New Year, I will probably be cutting back to 1 post per week due to lack of things to talk about (although a lack of real news has never stopped me before). In addition to keeping you, the faithful reader, informed on CFL transactions taking place in the offseason, I'll probably diversify into some NHL and NFL talk.

What would you like the Rider Prophet to talk about? Post a comment with your ideas and I'll do my best to oblige.

Friday I will be awarding the First Annual Rider Prophet Awards. The awards will feature a fans choice award, so please vote above for your Fan's Choice Douche-Bag of the Year.

I will also be awarding the highly uncoveted award for Most Insulted Sports Figure of the Year. Will it be Jason French? Danny Cant-coach-yah? My perennial punching bag Marcel Bellefeuille? Or someone else? Who you think it was that bore the brunt of my jokes all season?… we’ll find out on Friday.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Post Grey Cup Thoughts

Good Day Rider Fans. Rider Prophet here still basking in the glory of a Grey Cup win. It was just such a great moment in the province's history that I decided that a semi-serious poem was in order to start the week. However, now it's time to get back to what this blog is all about... smart-ass remarks and politically incorrect humour!

To start out here's one of the better comments I heard all week: The Bombers have introduced a new piece of merchandise following the Grey Cup game. The Bomber bra.. it's got weak support and no cups.

I guess the first order of business would be to talk about the Grey Cup MVP... James Johnson. Now, as you know, over the course of the season I have been very vocal in my dislike of Johnson. Everything from comparing his tackling abilities to Def Leppard's drummer to saying I would rather see Patrick Kabongo line up at DB. I'd like to take those hurtful statements back... I'd like to, but I can't bring myself to do it. Everything I said was accurate at the time, he sucked. Sunday, however, was a different story. Johnson finally showed he was deserving of his title of all-star and was one of the main reasons we won the game. So kudos to you Mr. Johnson. But remember, now that I've seen how well you can play, should you decide to go back to sucking next season rest assured my insults will increase in frequency and severity to a level previously only attained by the football mastermind Marcel Bellefeuille.

A lot of people were very critical of Milt Stegall for not talking to the media following the loss. I for one think this was blown way out of proportion. It was likely Milt's last game and he was probably very emotional and crying like a baby. I don't blame him for not wanting to appear like that on camera. Hey Milt, don't worry! I'm sure it was very awkward to be owned by James when you are clearly more accustomed to single-handedly beating Johnson.

Three days after being named the League's Outstanding Player for 2007, Kerry Joseph evidently succumbed to a combination of nerves and a talented Blue Bomber defense and put up one of his ugliest passing games of the season. Fortunately for Rider fans everywhere, Joseph overcame his inaccuracy and occasionally questionable decision making by running like Forrest Gump on speed. The Winnipeg linebacker that was assigned to Joseph played the role of "spy" to perfection, in that he kept a close eye on Kerry without ever being seen himself, and had a classified report on Doug Berry's desk first thing the next morning outlining in excruciating detail all of the target's movements. Perhaps Coach Berry should have known that when dealing with someone who has spent that much time breathing the Winnipeg air, he would have been better off asking his special agent to be "the guy that follows #4 and doesn't let him run".

Make no mistake Rider fans - it may not have been a pretty win, but years from now no one will care about that. All that will matter was that at the end of the day, the Saskatchewan Roughriders were hoisting the Grey Cup. Meanwhile back in Regina, the world's greatest fans were taking to the streets in droves. The intersection of Albert and Vic was packed with a green mob, and traffic was backed up for blocks in all directions. Fans from all over the city - and even some that drove in from out of town just for the occasion - were celebrating the win well into the night. The joy was overwhelming, and spirits were higher than the guy I saw streaking down Albert St. I wish I could say I have film of the scene, but apparently cameras don't appreciate cold temperatures or drunk operators. Who knew?

We did however manage to get some footage of this week’s Grey Cup celebrations.

Celebration at the Lazy Owl
The obligatory Grey Cup dance party
Rider Prophet being mauled by his fans
Grey Cup celebration on Albert St.

Grey Cup Rally at Mosaic Stadium:
Grey Cup Champions take the stage
Mayor Fiacco
Eric Tillman
Coach Austin

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Grey Cup Champions

If you can bring in a rookie coach without any doubt
That you’ll have success in the first year
If you can win games week in and week out
In front of 28,000 fans who cheer
If you can overcome an injury list
That seems to have no end
If through a thunderstorm you can persist
And your winning streak extend

If you can cut off your fingers and barely miss any time
Or run with broken bones in your feet
If you can replace most of your offensive line
And lose your top receiver but not miss a beat
If you can take someone who took a decrease in pay
And make him the league’s MVP
If you can get benched for your poor play
And later recover to score the Grey Cup winning TD

If you can surpass expectations
And rewrite history
If you can overcome all complications
And rise above mediocrity
If you can clinch a home playoff game
For the first time since ‘88
If the favored Lions you can tame
And earn a Grey Cup date

If you can restore pride in a once great team
And can capture hearts across the prairies
If you can wave a flag of green
And know the honour that it carries
If you can fight until that last minute
And look back and say you won
Yours is the Grey Cup and all the glory in it
And - which is more – you’ll be a Rider my son!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Grey Cup: Riders vs. Bombers

The year was 1997. The world was mourning the loss of Notorious BIG, Princess Di and Mother Teresa; listening to Hanson sing MMMBop and having illicit thoughts about Kate Winslet in Titanic. At least I know I was. But even more important than naked sketches on a sinking ship was the fact that 1997 was the last time that the Saskatchewan Roughriders played for the Grey Cup. The game, much like the movie, was not an easy one for any self-respecting Rider fan to endure, but at least the game was Celine Dion-free.

Yes, the game a decade in the making is now but days away. This Sunday our Saskatchewan Roughriders will face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 95th Grey Cup - the first time these two teams will square off for Canadian football's top prize. Both teams are currently enduring the longest Grey Cup droughts in the CFL (Rider since '89 and Bombers since '90). One of these mathematically unlikely streaks is about to come to an end. Like most Rider fans, I have been bouncing off the walls with excitement since the end of the West Final (which has angered my landlord so if you know of a good drywaller please let me know).

The game features 2 very good teams; a quick look at the stats will tell you that. Their offense was 2nd in the league in yards, fueled by 3 1000 yd receivers and a RB that ran for 1300. Our offense was 2nd only to BC in the league in scoring, led by a QB that threw 24 TDs and rushed for 13 more. Their defense was #3 in the league against the pass. Our defense was #1 in the league against the rush. But stats at this point are about as useful as Michael Vick in my football draft. It doesn't matter what has happened over the last 20 weeks. This is one game to decide it all.

That said, there is one more stat I would like to mention, since Winnipeg leads the league in this category... singles off missed field goals. Yes, no one shanks kicks more consistently than Troy Westwood. Nothing like having the least reliable kicker in the league heading into the most important game. Apparently Westwood tripped and fell in the locker room and hit his head the other day. There were concerns over his mental alertness headed into the big game. To be sure, the trainer asked him what 4 plus 4 was. Troy replied 8. The other Bomber players all yelled out is dismay, "Aww, he got it wrong!" But in fairness to Westwood, this is his big chance at a haircut 6 years in the making, so we'll see how he responds.

You can't talk about the game without talking about Winnipeg's QB situation. Sadly, Winnipeg will be playing for the championship without East MVP Kevin Glenn who broke his arm last week against the Alouettes. I personally would have preferred to see Glenn and Joseph duke it out for Cup but unfortunately thems the breaks (oooh... maybe a poor choice of words). Regardless, Winnipeg's fate now rests in the hands of Ryan Dinwiddie, a guy who has not thrown a TD in the CFL or even started a game for that matter. However, the Riders cannot be overconfident or Dinwiddie may burn us. There's no denying that Dinwiddie was a great QB in college… but then again so was Akili Smith and look how well that turned out.

The keys to wining will be the same as last week: Stop the run and blitz like mad. Good receivers mean jack when you're QB is brutal (just ask Clermont, Simon, Lewis, Copeland and Bruce).

The game will be closer than many are predicting, but when time expires on Sunday the Riders will be the ones to hoist the Grey Cup. And when they do, people across Saskatchewan will pour into the streets and the biggest party in the province this millennium will ensue.

I'll end with a few jokes to get you in the Grey Cup mood...

Apparently Doug Berry will only be dressing 20 players for the game. He's confident the others can figure it out on their own.

Q: What do you call 46 guys in a room watching the Grey Cup?
A: The BC Lions

Sit back and enjoy the weekend Rider fans, we've waited a long time for this.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wednesday Videos

Here is the video footage from the airport after the West Final win.

Airport Intro
Airport Part I
Airport Part II
Airport Part III
Airport Part IV
Airport Outro

Also we have this exclusive footage which may shock you
Rider Prophet Exclusive Story

Finally here's some footage of my appearance on the Morning Edition last Friday
Rider Prophet and Sheila Coles

Monday, November 19, 2007

West Division Champions!!!

Where were you as time expired in the West Final yesterday? Were you in a sports bar? Were you in the comfort of your own home? Were you hugging grown men like there was no tomorrow? Wherever you were I'm sure it's a moment you will always remember.

On Sunday the Riders defeated the BC Lions 26-17 in front of a sell-out crowd at BC Place, earning them a berth in the 95th Grey Cup. That's right, the Riders re but one win away from putting the perfect finish on the most unlikely of seasons.

With the intensity and focus the Riders showed, nothing was going to deny us the win. The home crowd noise couldn't stop us (4 procedure calls, 0 time counts), BC's highly touted O-line couldn't stop us (7 sacks), their all-star secondary couldn't stop us (0 INTs, 2 passing TDs), their dangerous D-line couldn't stop us (5 sacks, 112 yds rushing), the CFL's top RB couldn't stop us (35 yds rushing, 1 TD); last year's Grey Cup MVP couldn't stop us. Not even the referees could stop us (1 botched challenge). This team will not be denied.

While the Rider offense did enough to win, full credit for this one goes to the defense. I haven't seen such brutal hits since Ricky Martin was popular. While the receivers, particularly Jason Clermont and Geroy Simon, took more than their fair share of abuse, one of the most recurring victims of the Riders' punishing defense was Dave Dickenson. The amount of protection he was getting from his offensive line made me wonder if Dave had spent all of his post-concussion recuperation time sleeping with their wives and stealing from their elderly mothers, because I've seen drunk college freshmen that were better able to resist the advances of a Chick. I mean, maybe you can understand an occasional blitzing linebacker coming free off the edge, but when a guy they call "Chunky" can come through the middle of the line untouched, you have to wonder if there's some unresolved issues!

Another bonus of the Rider win is that it means the Lions will finally shave their ridiculous mustaches. Although I can't help but think back to the days after the 2001 Grey Cup, where Troy Westwood vowed that he wouldn't cut his hair until the Bombers won the Grey Cup - I'm hoping that a bold Lions player steps up and makes a similar claim with regards to their mustache, since I think it's high time that someone gave Lanny McDonald some competition.

The Riders flew back into Regina around 1:30 this morning and they were greeted by hundreds and hundreds of Rider fans. The Rider Prophet and his Media Consultant were right in the heart of the celebration, and the atmosphere was truly incredible. We shot some video footage which I will post tomorrow.

Finally, I'd like to point out the heart shown by this team all season long, further demonstrated again last night by the numerous players that toughed out injuries to help the team. Wes Cates, DJ Flick, Chris Szarka, Corey Holmes, Marcus Adams, Kitwana Jones, Maurice Lloyd, Reggie Hunt, James Johnson and I'm sure many others all worked through the pain yesterday to contribute to the win. That type of commitment to the overall team objective is why the BC Lions season ended yesterday, and it's why the Saskatchewan Roughriders will hoist Lord Earl Grey's mug in just under a week.

Friday, November 16, 2007

West Division Showdown: Riders vs. Lions

Happy Friday Rider fans. Prophet here gearing up for Sunday's big game in BC. On the line is a trip to Toronto to play for Earl Grey's cup (and I'm not talking about the tea).

I got the weekend started off on a good note this morning. I was a guest on CBC Radio's Morning Edition and squared off in a debate against a rabid BC Lions fan. He should really get that checked out. Anyway, big thanks to those of you who tuned in and listened. Try as they may to trash talk the Riders and land a knock-out punch, they were no match for the wit and intelligence of the Prophet. If you missed the debate, or would just like to listen again you can click here. I also took some video footage which I will post soon.

This game is big. How big you ask? Well on a scale of 1 to 10; 1 being Jason Jimenez' upcoming legal bill and 10 being Wally Buono's ego, this is a 9. Normally I would rate it higher, but nothing is bigger than Wally Buono's ego. In all seriousness though, I shouldn't say too much bad about Buono. I know how hard he's worked to get his cholesterol under control. Plus he is a master strategist - not just anyone could come up with the idea to punt on first down.

The key to winning in the playoffs is having someone step up and be a leader for the team. For the Riders, there's no question that Mr. MVP Kerry Joseph is our leader and he has shown the ability to lead the team to victory. For the Lions... I guess you've got Jarious Jackson with his wealth of playoff experience to draw on (most of which involves holding clipboards and running the 1 yard plunge). Or maybe Joe Smith... but then again he is facing the top run defense in the league which he never put up 100 yards against all season. Simon and Clermont are pretty good... but if you want to see how useful good receivers are when your QB struggles just watch last week's West-Semi. I guess that means it's up to the O-line to step up.

I can picture Wally's pre-game speech to Murphy, Haji-Rasouli and Jimenez going something like this: "Rob, don't choke ... unless it's someone in a green jersey. Sherko, we need you to help punch one in ... to Shultz's stomach. And Jason, well you just go out there and break a leg."

Some people don't like our chances given the fact that we have a rookie head coach. That may be true, but let's not forget that we've got the same coaches on the offensive side of the ball that led the Argos to a win in the East final in the Big O a few years back, so there's no question our guys will be ready for the noise. Also, Austin has Grey Cup rings both as a player and a coach, and he knows what it takes to succeed at the highest level.

I predict that it will be a very close game with the Riders winning by 5 on a Kerry Joseph rushing TD. This will be a change of pace for BC people: Usually they smoke the green, but this Sunday the green will be smoking them.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rider Prophet will be on CBC Radio

The Rider Prophet has been chosen by CBC Radio as the Ultimate Rider Fan and has been invited to appear on The Morning Edition with Sheila Coles to square off in a debate against a BC Lions fan.

Be sure to listen Friday morning at 8 on CBC Radio (540 on your AM dial)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Playoff Videos

As promised, here's the video footage from this week. The sound quality isn't the greatest on account of the wind but bare in mind that the Rider Prophet is not a low budget operation, it's a no budget operation. If you'd like higher quality videos in the future, feel free to make a donation or become an official sponsor of the Rider Prophet. The money won't go to producing higher quality videos, but at least I'll know that you'd like us to have them.

Interview with Troy
Interview with Gov
Interview with Man in the Bush
The Green Mile

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Riders Win At Home!

Good Day Rider fans. I have finally recovered enough from the weekend to throw some coherent thoughts together. More or less anyway.

It was one of those moments you will always remember (unless you drank too much, in which case most of this will be news to you). The atmosphere at Mosaic Stadium was like nothing I’d ever seen. From the pre-game warm up to the final whistle the stadium was practically shaking. It was even loud enough to drown out Henry Burris complaining to the refs (which is no small feat). People were so excited that not even the fact that the stadium ran out of beer could dampen their spirits (although it helped that many had smuggled said spirits in with them).

Henry Burris was right on cue for his annual playoff choke (the 3rd consecutive for those keeping score at home). When he coughed up that fumble on their second play from scrimmage, I knew the game was over (Hank never has just 1 turnover. He either has 0 or 4). Then, like clockwork, he goes out and throws an INT in the endzone two series later. It’s almost as if Henry Burris is George W. Bush and playoff football is his pretzel. And what did Burris have to say about his third straight playoff loss? “It’s not three years in a row because it’s one year at a time.” I don't know what kind of gorilla math he used to come to that conclusion, but I guess it means that he will quickly put this game behind him and start working on how he can blow next year’s West Semi.

For the Riders, it was all Kerry Joseph. He set a record for most rushing yards by a QB in a playoff game with 109, eclipsing the previous record of 102 which was held by none other than Reggie Slack. Joseph added another 391 yards through the air, including a 62 yard touchdown to DJ Flick on the first play of the game. Unfortunately that would be the only time the Riders found the endzone all afternoon, and I have to be honest - if you'd told me earlier in the day that the Riders would score only one major, I might have skipped the game and gone straight to drowning my sorrows. Fortunately the combination of Luca "I used to be an all-star" Congi and Calgary's spot-on high school football team imitation was enough to make sure the good guys were on the right side of the result.

The Stampeders' strategy of avoiding defensive breakdowns, not turning the ball over, and getting off to a fast start to take the rabid fans out of the game was a sound one, and I'm impressed that Flanders and company were able to identify these key areas. Even more impressive than their ability to develop these objectives is their ability to fail at all three of them with over 13 minutes remaining in the first quarter of a football game. That takes a special kind of ineptness usually reserved for the likes of Danny Macocia and Marcel Bellefeuille.

Despite Calgary's best efforts to give the game away, some combination of Rider errors and blind luck left the Stamps close enough to make the final minutes interesting. If not for an offside penalty called against Calgary on their onside kick attempt with less than a minute to play, we could very well be sitting here contemplating which heads should roll (since we obviously don't have the Calgary efficiency of getting this all planned out prior to the end of our season) rather than looking forward to a showdown with BC next Sunday. I have already heard from Calgary fans that felt the penalty shouldn't have been called since Sadrick Williams, the offending player, had no impact on the play. If this policy of not penalizing a player that doesn't make an impact was implemented, Williams just might become the least penalized player in the history of football.

On a sadder note, it appears that another Rider running back has gone down to injury as Josh Ranek suffered a concussion on Sunday after a nice 16 yard run and another 5 on a brilliant fake FG. This unfortunately opens up a hole at RB and Henri Childs is the most likely candidate to step up. That said, knowing Childs, he will probably be unable to find the hole.

That’s it for now, I will have the video footage from pre-game posted tomorrow. Imagine that, me posting videos while they are still somewhat relevant.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

West Semi Final: Riders vs. Stampeders

In honour of Remembrance Day I thought I would start things off day with a poem:

At Taylor Field the Rider fans go
To line the bleachers row on row
To cheer our team, and in the sky
The Pilsner flags will proudly fly
And the Rider Pride will clearly show

The last time was 19 years ago
We lost and since, failure's all we know
The Riders seldom play in the November snow
At Taylor Field

Joseph 4 touchdowns will surely throw
As the Riders vanquish their western foe
After the loss Henry just might cry
While Rider fans rejoice with heads held high
And elation will abound and spirits flow
At Taylor Field

That's right ladies and gentlemen, the big home playoff game is only 3 sleeps away! Are you as excited as I am? Well if that's the case it means that you haven't been this excited since the last Frontlyne concert.

There have been a number of crazy stories circulating this week about the Stampeders. Everything from John Hufnagel already being hired to replace Tom Higgins, to coaches losing it on players in the locker room, to Higgins benching defensive leader Brian Clark, to Henry Burris clubbing seals. I don't think even Lindsay Lohan could manage to have this much bad press in a week. Which is why I won't believe any of it until it's proven (like the seal clubbing story). The Stampeders have a history of running a gong-show of a team, but this is over the top even for them. It wouldn't surprise me if this is all an elaborate hoax to lull the Riders into overconfidence. Either way I'm not too worried, either it's all true and the Stamps are in complete disarray or it's all a hoax and the Stamps just spent a week of effort on a drama production rather than on preparing for a football game. Although knowing the Stamps like I do, this could all be the preamble that is required for their next touchdown dance, so you better be paying attention if you want to have any chance of following the plot on Sunday.

Both teams have high powered offenses and questionable defenses so this game will come down to 2 things. 1 - Which defense can manage the most stops and 2 - Which QB manages not to choke. In both cases, the Riders have a clear advantage. Calgary's defense stops the runs about as well as a bottle of Exlax and has been scored on more than Debbie during her last trip to Dallas. And in terms of QBs, we have the West MVP, whereas they have a QB that chokes in November like Jean Chr├ętien when accosted by the public. Burris has never won a playoff game in 4 attempts. For the record, I don't give Henry Burris credit for the 2004 West semi-final win over Edmonton, since Kenton Keith carried him to that win, whereas in 2007 Burris is reduced to riding Joffrey Reynolds.

The home team has lost the last 4 WSFs (That said, 3 of those 4 games were won by the Riders). Regardless, I really like our chances. It will be a high scoring game, but we will prevail in front of a mad-house 28K strong.

The Rider Prophet crew will be out and about this weekend interviewing fans, signing autographs and taking in the festivities. Please stop by and say hi, you may just end up being interviewed by the Prophet.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. We waited a long time for this game so let's cheer loud and show everyone what Rider Pride is all about.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wednesday Picture

Last week, I alleged that Stampeder QB Henry Burris clubs seals. At the time, I said that I had no evidence to substantiate these allegations.

Well my sources have uncovered the following picture which clearly confirms the horrible truth about Burris' off-field activities.

Monday, November 5, 2007

And that’s the end of that chapter…

The CFL regular season came to a close this weekend with excitement and hype not seen since the Spice Girls announced their reunion tour. There were a lot of garbage games being played, not the least of which was played at Mosaic Stadium.

For the 6th time in a row, a sellout crowd of 28,800 was on hand but the home crowd wasn’t enough for the Riders to overcome the Argos as they fell 41-13. Now bear in mind that the Argos were playing for 1st in the east and we we’re playing for pride essentially. Should we have played better? Absolutely. Am I worried about our performance? Not really.

Here’s what I took away from the game?
· Michael Palmer is a bright spot at receiver. Unlike some other back-ups (read Kahlil Hill), he’s making the most of the opportunities he’s been given over the past couple weeks.
· Henri Childs is brutal! Think I’m being too harsh? Let’s recap his first 3 plays of the game: Run for 1, Fumble, Run for no gain. He helps our running game about as much as Life of Chris Gaines helped Garth Brooks’ career. Then again, I guess that’s what we get for sending Childs to do a man’s job.
· James Johnson turned in another poor performance. The fact that this guy is considered an all-star says a lot about how good Calgary and Edmonton’s secondaries were this year… or maybe it’s a sign that Rob Vanstone was finally allowed to vote this year. (Never mind, Kerry Joseph was the Western All-Star quarterback. Rob must have been shunned again.)

So the Riders finish the season in 2nd place at 12-6. We should stand and congratulate our Riders for an outstanding season. Hats off to Tillman and Austin for a job well done. They cast off the cloak of mediocrity, ended the home-playoff game drought and filled the stands week after week. There hasn’t been this kind of excitement on the prairies since the Rider Prophet announced he was shunning Sasktel and striking out on his own.

The league discovered this week that there was an error in tabulating the all-star voting last week and that Sandro DeAngelis is actually the West Division all-star place kicker, not Luca Congi as previously announced. Word is the CFL forgot to take a few of the Florida Electoral Colleges into account prior to announcing the winner. Some would say it's an honest mistake, while others would argue it makes the league look Bush.

Finally this week, the Hamilton Ti-Cats wasted no time in making off-season changes. GM Marcel Desjardins was fired today. Now, you can make a case that Desjardins wasn’t the best GM but constantly firing people is no way to build a team. At some point you have to pick a GM and coach and stick with them so they have time to build. I mean who knows where we’d be if we fired Shivers in 2001. Sources say that Eric Tillman sent the following note to Desjardins upon hearing of his firing:

Deeply sorry to hear about you getting fired. I personally want to thank you for your time and effort in Hamilton. Without you the Riders wouldn’t have Flick, Smith, and Holmes. Plus we’d still be stuck with French. Some might say you accomplished all there was to accomplish in Hamilton. On that note, don’t give up. I encourage you to apply for the soon to be vacant Eskimo GM job, where there is a whole new compliment of talent for you to dispose of... err, at your disposal. I’d love to continue making deals with you. Say Morgan and Ray for Nkyasen?

Regards, Eric

That’s the way I saw things this weekend. Check back soon as we begin to prep a game 19 years in the making. Don your watermelons and chill your Pilsner, the playoffs hit Regina in just 5 days!!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Regular Season Finale

Good day Rider fans. Rider Prophet here, gearing up for the final week of the regular season. Saturday the Toronto Argonauts roll into town to face the Riders. This game will be a treat as we haven’t closed out the regular season at home since 2000.

My how things have changed. Last time we played the Argos, they we’re competing with Edmonton for 3rd in the East. Now they can clinch 1st. Dominique Dorsey was just a back-up to Brashir Levingston. Now he’s the East’s nominee for Special Teams Player of the Year. And Rocky Butler… well I guess not everything has changed.

Toronto boasts one of the best defenses in the league: least yards allowed, least points allowed and most INTs. Oddly enough, the offense boasts very similar stats: fewest yards gained, 2nd fewest points scored and a QB who throws more INTs per pass than any other starter. The Rich Stubler philosophy apparently permeates through the whole team, not just their defense.

For the Riders, injuries continue to be the story. Mike Washington suffered a season ending knee injury at practice this week. Other Riders who will likely sit out due to injury include Adams, Stancil, Murphy, Cates and Holmes. The injuries to our top 2 RBs prompted Eric Tillman to sign Josh Ranek. In addition to being a pretty good back, Ranek also meets 2 of Tillman’s major screening criteria in that he’s played for both Ottawa and Hamilton.

I think it will be a close game with our league leading offense playing their lead leading defense. Look for the Riders to win one for their home crowd in a close game. The difference will be a record setting rushing TD by Kerry Joseph. Which will finally answer the age old question: “Kerry Joseph is a better _____ than Doug Flutie?”

Speaking of Joseph, huge congratulations go out to him for being named an all-star and the West nominee for League MOP! His leadership and outstanding play is one of the main reasons the Riders have done so well this season. Of course not everyone was happy for Joseph… Henry Burris was very surprised and angry that his "good friend" got the nomination ahead of him. Admittedly, Burris had a pretty good season but let’s do a quick comparison: While Joseph is 1 rushing TD away from tying Doug Flutie’s record for rushing TDs by a QB in a season, Burris is one interception away from tying Al Brenner’s record for most INTs in a season. While Joseph led his team to 12 wins and a home playoff game, Burris led his team to a sub-500 record and 3rd place. While Joseph is a class act who always acts very professionally and supports local charities, Burris is a whiny prima donna who punches babies and clubs seals (while I have no evidence to support these allegations, one can only assume that they are true).

Finally, three members of the Edmonton Eskimos were fined this week for comments they made following the controversial holding call last week that negated Sean Fleming’s game winning field goal. Given how depressed the Eskimos must be after missing the playoffs again, this just seems like kicking them while they’re down… or as it’s more commonly called, AJ Gassing them.

That’s the way I saw things this week. This is the Rider Prophet signing off.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Ladies and gentlemen, the Rider bandwagon is full. Ticket sales for the home-playoff game caused people to jump back on the wagon at a rate not seen since prohibition in the early 1900s. Of course those who were unable to find room on the bandwagon have now begun complaining more than Henry Burris after an incompletion. My sources have forwarded me the initial press release the Riders were going to send out to disgruntled and ticketless fans (the copy that was eventually released was significantly edited):

The Riders would like to apologize for not giving part-time fans who only cheer for the Riders when it's convenient for them the same access to playoff tickets as our season ticket holders who have been cheering for us all season. We would further like to apologize for giving preference to individuals who have given us $250 for a share over people who prefer to spend their money on dirty magazines and cheap vodka. Finally, our sincerest apologies to any of those courageous fans who did not get tickets despite standing in a parking lot over night. While we are unable to discern what impact this display of loyalty has on the team's bottom line or what assistance it offers to the long-term viability of the franchise, this display of unwavering Rider Pride will not soon be forgotten.

Sincerely, your Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Riders Win in OT

First off this week, I finally got around to uploading the last couple videos from Calgary. You can check them out here:

Pre-game Interview with Guy from Ponteix

Now down to business...
Friday the Riders got their 12th win of the season with a 36-29 overtime win in Edmonton. In doing so they also officially eliminated the Eskimos from the playoffs. I've never been so embarrassed to win a game. We were outplayed for the majority of the game and only managed to win because of a penalty that negated a Fleming game wining field goal.

That said, watching the "storybook ending" field goal sail straight through the uprights with virtually no time left on the clock followed by the Eskimos celebrating what seemed to be a season-saving win, only to have the kick called back on a holding penalty was one of my high points for the 2007 season. Just throwing that out there.

17 games into the season and our defense still apparently has no clue what a crossing route is or how to defend it. Message to Richie Hall: if you have a weakness that is so obvious even Danny Maccioccia can pick up on it, you are in a lot of trouble.

In addition to a poor defensive performance, we were subjected to watching Mike Washington play like he had soaked his hands in astroglide before the game. He somewhat redeemed himself by scoring the game tying TD but up until that play I thought that Jason French had snuck back onto the team somehow. Sadly, given that he's still a starter it tells you a bit about how much worse Hill and Marshall must be.

There were a few bright spots in the game though. Congrats go out to Neal Hughes for recovering a fumble during a kick return and punching in his first CFL TD; Stancil and Chick for combining for the play of the game (You'd think by now Edmonton would pay extra attention to an LB blitz but apparently not); and Michael Palmer for having a huge game at receiver. I find it a bit ironic that all season the Argos have been snatching up rejected receivers like Mitchell and Boerigter and the one guy they let go turns out to have talent.

The whole controversial holding call aside, the fact that the Eskimos could not hold on to a big lead in the 4th quarter while playing our back-ups is the exact reason why they deserve to miss the playoffs. When you allow 5 TDs from household names such as Childs, Washington, Hughes and Chick, maybe questionable reffing has nothing to do with you missing the playoffs (again). Danny Maccioccia better start working on his resume because he will likely need to use it this off-season. You're probably asking yourself who in their right mind would hire someone who has a track record of running a championship team into the ground? Well sources say that Jim Popp is very interested in as he sees him as the perfect fit in Montreal.

Tickets for the West Semi Final went on sale to the general public this morning and disappeared faster than Britney Spears' dignity. Within 25 minutes it was sold out! The last time Saskatchewan ticket buyers reacted this quickly to an event at Mosaic Stadium was when the Rolling Stones came to town. So what do a Stones Saskatchewan concert tour and a Saskatchewan Roughriders home playoff game have in common? I know you're expecting the obvious "we might have to wait 20 years before we see either again", but I'll leave that up to the lesser bloggers. The truth is, I think that on some level the Saskatchewan fan base appreciates the fact that whether our guest is Mick Jagger or the Calgary Stampeders defense, there's a decent chance you're going to see somebody score over 60.

Finally, there was a lot of talk this week about Michael Bishop and how he's 10-1 as a starter and an all-star caliber QB. Umm... am I missing something? Among starting QBs he has the worst completion %, the worst QB rating and is 3rd in the league in interceptions despite not playing in every game. He is the equivalent of Rex Grossman last year... a mediocre QB with a defense that carries the team and hides his shortcomings. I predict a Grossman-like fate for Bishop: defense choking in the championship game leaving him to carry the team, and before to long he will be replaced with a much older QB… Paging Damon Allen.

Well that's it for now. This is the Rider Prophet saying: don't worry if you didn't get playoff tickets today. As history will show we are a mere 19 years away from the next one. (Turns out I reduced myself to that after all.)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Riders vs. Eskimos IV

Since this is the fourth time this season that the Riders are playing the Eskimos, I'm running out of good material faster than Rita MacNeil's seamstress. So I decided to write a poem about the green and gold...

Ode to the Edmonton Eskimos
A once great team that now really blows
I'll talk about the offense to start the day
Simply put they have none without Ricky Ray
TD's from a running back? They have just 1
And their top receiver is Kamau Incompleterson
A defensive stand just isn't in the cards
Since they are the 2nd worst team in terms of giving up yards
Not to be outdone their special teams is equally as skilled
Allowing 5 blocked kicks and 5 TDs, they're just getting killed
Let's not forget Sean Fleming, kicker extraordinaire
He's missed more FGs than anyone, even that Bomber with bad hair
Finally there's Maccioccia, to say the least he's not great
The Esks would be better off if they auto-picked plays from Madden '08
Tomorrow the Riders will end their playoff hopes once and for all
And so I have to ask "Whose fault is it now Bryan Hall?"

News form around the CFL...
Yesterday the team nominees for year end awards were announced. Looking down the list there are more than a few names that are there purely because "none of the above" wasn't an option when voting. For example: Shannon James, Scott Flory and any Eskimo not named Ray. Although I'm kinda sad that Jamie "The Juggernaut" Boreham didn't get nominated, I still think the Riders have a solid bunch of nominees and wish them the best of luck.

By the way, remember Monday when I said that Nick Setta should be the Hamilton nominee for MVP, Rookie and Special Teams? Well 2 out of 3 ain't bad. Besides I still contend that Setta is their MVP. He has scored 58% of all Hamilton points this year (by comparison Congi has a meager 33% of our points). You know the football situation in your town is in bad shape when being a kicker actually improves your chances of scoring.

The Bombers, desperate for a kicker who doesn't suck, tried to convince Mike Vanderjagt to play for them this week. This fell through pretty quickly as Vanderjagt apparently wanted $200,000. The kicking situation is so bad that Winnipeg has reportedly contacted all the Kick for a Million contestants for a tryout. Sources also say that the Bombers are interested in AJ Gass since he showed a strong leg when he kicked Brock Ralph last year.

The Sean Millington comeback story just keeps getting better. Apparently he failed his physical so the Argos have sent him packing. To make matters worse for Millington, CBC has already filled his old job so he can't go back there either. Man, if all it takes to get rid a bad football commentator is a shot at a comeback, Winnipeg should do us all a favour and talk to Chris Walby. Maybe he can even kick.

Finally, my favorite story this week has to be Jim Popp. In an interview this week, he said confidently that he's not the problem in Montreal this season. Generally speaking, it's not a good idea for a head coach to blame his players and coaching staff without shouldering some of the blame. In Popp's defense though he may have a point, it's not the head coach's fault that his players suck and his coaching staff is incompetent. The person who should really shoulder the blame here is the guy that signed them all in the first place... the GM. Word is Popp intends to express his concerns to the GM but doesn't expect anything to come of it since the GM is kind of a prick.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Playoffs Are Coming To Saskatchewan

The year was 1988. A long ago time where Bush was president, Bon Jovi was touring Canada, Sylvester Stallone was working on a Rambo movie and Saskatchewan hosted a playoff game. Now a mere 19 years later, Bush is president, Bon Jovi is touring Canada, Stallone is working on a Rambo movie and Saskatchewan will host a home playoff game. Just when I thought I'd lost the keys to the De Lorean...

That's right Rider fans, by now you know that this weekend the Riders clinched their first home playoff in 19 years... unless of course you have the perceptive abilities of a CFL official, in which case you are oblivious to the home playoff game and are probably trying to invent a penalty to compensate. "Illegal catching of the forward pass, Saskatchewan number 3..." (Although I suppose they just make those calls for the good of the game.)

Mark your calendars and get your tickets while you can Rider fans... Nov 11th will truly be a day to remember.

Onto the game...
The Riders had actually clinched the playoff game two nights before taking the field this weekend thanks to a Stampeder loss, so it probably wouldn't have surprised too many people to see the Riders mail it in on Sunday. Instead it was the Ti-cats who mailed it in en route to a 38-11 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders (or "the players that were too good to make the Ti-Cats", as they are known to some.)

Yet again, Nick Setta did all the scoring for Hamilton, notching 2 FGs and a punt single. I find it ironic that the Ti-cats spent half a million to sign Casey Printers as their "franchise player" when Nick Setta should by all means be the Ti-cat nominee for MVP, Special Teams Player and Rookie of the year. Now that's a franchise player!

Hamilton is so bad it's almost comical. Yesterday alone they managed 2 penalties for illegal formation and 2 more for having 13 men in the huddle. Apparently the players have difficulty counting to 12 and just start guessing when they run out of fingers... What do you think would happen if Szarka was on their team... still too soon?

For the Riders, Scott Gordon set the tone for the game early on when he laid a huge hit on Brock Ralph over the middle. As one of the fans in my section so nicely put it "That's how we do it in 306 baby!" Holmes also did a fantastic job filling in for Wes Cates (though I have to admit he looked more like a receiver than a starting RB out there... not that it was a bad thing). It should come as no surprise that Gordon and Holmes had big games as this was their final chance this season to pour salt in the wounds of their old team. It made me glad to see that we have a coaching staff that actually uses players' talents: Gordon hitting like a cannon ball and Holmes doing pretty much everything else.

Joseph continued his strong play, throwing for a TD and rushing for 2 more. He is now only 1 TD away from tying Doug Flutie's single season record for most rushing TDs by a QB. And in case you didn't know, here are a few more Joseph stats for you: He's 2nd in passing yds, 3rd in passing TDs, 3rd among all players in rushing TDs and one of the least intercepted starting QBs in the league. All this from a guy who had his salary cut by over 1/3 and had to compete for the starting spot in training camp. Saskatchewan fans haven't seen that type of "I'm going to do what's best for the Riders" attitude from a quarterback since Henry Burris signed with Calgary.

One final bit of CFL news for you today... Apparently Sean Millington's 2nd comeback has been put on hold as talks between Millington and the Argos broke down last week. Who does this guy think he is? Larry Johnson? Message to Millington: You're a CBC announcer who retired 5 years ago (and again 2 years ago). You're not exactly in a strong bargaining position! Note to the Diesel: The mere fact that the Argos were interested in you has more to do with their bizarre need to sign CFL rejects than your playing ability. I think they like the security of knowing that their players are experienced in signing contracts, which guarantees that the first 5 minutes of their career as Argonauts should flow smoothly.

This is the Rider Prophet signing off.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Calgary Videos... Finally!

Well it took 2 weeks but I finally managed to upload the video footage from the game in Calgary. Enjoy:

Pre Game
Prophet and Gov
Prophet and Doozler
Prophet and Norm
Prophet and Guy From Ponteix
Prophet and Helmet Guy
Sign Off

Post Game
Prophet and Man in The Bush
Prophet and Gov
Prophet and The Pulse
Sign Off

I realized as I was posting this that I'm missing 2 clips so I'll track them down and get them up right away.

PS - We're gonna host a playoff game!! More on that story later

Friday, October 19, 2007

Riders vs. Ti-Cats II – This Time Its Personal

Sunday the Ti-cats roll into Mosaic Stadium for round 2 of a home and home. With a win the Riders can lock up their first home playoff game since 1988. They would also be only 1 more win away from their best record in an 18 game season. More importantly a win would mean that we did not lose to Hamilton this season, forever separating us from crappy teams like Winnipeg and Calgary.

You want a sign that things are going good in Riderville? How about the fact that we managed to sell out a game in late October, where the forecasted high is 5 degrees against the worst team in the league?

While fans are doing everything they can to attend this game. Players are doing everything they can to avoid it. Abou-Mechrek, Jones and McCullough tried their best to get suspended for this game, Cates' foot is "hurt", Washington's "uncle died". One Rider even went so far as to cut off his fingers so he didn't have to play the Ti-cats again.

All joking aside, best wishes to Chris Szarka as he recovers from a nasty table saw accident. On the bright side, at least now Szarka won't take any holding penalties... too soon?

With Casey Printers out this week's game won't be near as close as last time. Look for the Riders to give the home crowd a good show and lock up the home playoff game.

Of course any Rider talk this week wouldn't be complete without mentioning the myriad of fines assessed to the team and its staff. When all was said and done fines were handed out to Abou-Mecherek, Jones, Tillman, Austin and organization as a whole. Word on the street is that the league will use the proceeds of these fines to help improve the reffing situation in the CFL. I think this is a great way to get the most mileage out of the money, since apparently a donation of this size to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind is fully tax deductible.

In other news... Sean Millington?! Are you serious? For some reason when I read that Millington was coming out of retirement to play for the Argos I got a feeling of deja-vu... Maybe it's because the exact same thing happened in 2005. Millington joins a reputable list of has-beens that the Argos have taken a chance on this season. In fact, the Argo's contacted the Rider Prophet about coming to play for them but they broke off talks when they found out that I hadn't been cut by another CFL team yet. Their loss I suppose.

I'll wrap things up this week with a joke...
A guy walks into a bar with a dog under his arm. The dog is wearing a Ti-Cats jersey, helmet and is holding Ti-Cat pompoms. The bartender says, "Hey! No pets allowed in here! You'll have to leave!" The man begs, "Look I'm desperate. We're both big fans, my TV is broken, and this is the only place we can see the game!" After securing a promise that the dog will behave and warning him that if there is any trouble they will be thrown out, the bartender relents and allows them to stay in the bar and watch the game. The game begins with the Ti-cats receiving a kickoff. They march down field, stall at the 30 and kick a field goal. With that the dog jumps up on the bar and begins walking up and down the bar giving everyone a high-five. The bartender says, "Wow that is the most amazing thing I've ever seen! What does the dog do if they score a touchdown?"
"I don't know," replies the owner, "I've only had him for four years."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wednesday Picture

Even John Madden wants to hear what the Rider Prophet has to say.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Riders' Wins Hit Double Digits

For the first time since 2003, the Riders will have double digits in the win column and finish with a winning record. On Sunday, the Riders knocked off the Ti-cats 40-23 to earn their 10th win of the season, putting them only one win away from cementing a home playoff game. In related news, Rider fanatics have already been spotted scoping out prime spots along Albert St for the "inevitable" Grey Cup parade... a yearly tradition after beating the Ti-cats.

How about Andy Fantuz?! He runs that corner route as good as anyone in the league. He finished with 3 TDs and 240 yds. Which, for the record, was 37 yds more than all of Hamilton's receivers combined.

Although we did win handily, it's still worth noting that our defense had some troubles. Seriously how bad is your coverage when a guy can fall down while making a diving catch and still have time to get up and run 5 yds for a TD?

For the second time this year, a brawl broke out in a Rider game... What do these two incidents have in common? If you said 'the Riders got robbed both times', you are correct! For the record, I also would have accepted 'the referee couldn't speak English'. To be honest, I'm a little disappointed in Mike Abou-Mechrek and Jermese Jones. Not for getting ejected from the game, but for not paying attention. Just weeks ago, they watched from the sidelines as Sherko Haji-Rasouli and Rob Murphy remained in the game after coming to their quarterback's defense. Abou-Mechrek and Jones should clearly have known that the generally accepted form for pivot protection in the CFL is liberal punches and the occasional chokehold.

After the game, Rider captain Jeremy O'Day explained his anger towards the officials (which netted an objectionable conduct penalty) by saying that it seemed the refs were pulling numbers out of the air when deciding who should be ejected. From what I understand, the officials were originally planning to eject 53, 67, 62 and 34, but ultimately only showed Abou-Mechrek and Jones the gate upon realizing that Saskatchewan didn't have anyone wearing 62 and that George Reed hasn't suited up in years.

Jermese Jones explained his anger over the situation by saying that he was asking the officials why he was getting ejected and no one was able to tell him. I guess it would have been wrong for them to say "you've been ejected under the Corey Rodgers provision." At least there’s some precedence.

Message to Kent Austin: DJ Flick apparently responds very well to personal issues and not practicing. Last week his family was involved in a nasty car accident so he missed practice all week to be with them. He proceeded go out and rack up 157 yds. This week his wife gives birth to premature twins. He doesn't practice again but still manages 87 yds and a TD. While I wish no more hardship for Flick, it really does seem to boost his on-field production... Maybe he has a beloved puppy or something that could befall some tragedy. (Note: The Rider Prophet does not advocate killing animals... even if it is for noble causes).

It wasn't all good news this week though. I was always convinced that Matt Dominguez's knee was worse than they were letting on. My suspicions were confirmed when he was finally placed on the 9 game injured reserved list thus ending his season. I wish Matt all the best in his rehab and hope he can be back in green and white come '08. It's truly unfortunate, but Dominguez should look on the bright side - at least he's not a horse, because if he was he would have been shot 3 times by now.

Speaking of horses that should be put down... The Stampeders managed to beat the struggling Bombers, lead by a strong performance by a returning Henry Burris. By my calculations Burris is overdue for his annual fall collapse, but it's still coming. Rider Prophet will keep you posted on Burris Choke Watch '07.

This week Edmonton showed us all what they do best... collapse in the 4th quarter. Somehow, back-up Stephan Lefors managed to lead the Eskimos to a lead over the league leading BC Lions. Then part way through the 4th quarter Maciocia must have reminded them that they are the Edmonton Eskimos, at which point they promptly went out and lost the game.

Q: What's the difference between the Eskimos and a loonie?
A: You can get 4 quarters out of a loonie.

Well that’s it for now. I once again apologize for not having the video from Calgary up. I seem to have misplaced the cord for my camera and am currently trying to track down another one. Look at me making repeated excuses for failing at a simple task. Now I know how Danny Macciocia feels.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Riders vs. Hamilton

It's Friday and another weekend of CFL action is just around the corner. Rider Prophet here, gearing up for what could be a historic week in Riderville.

After a 19 year drought, the Riders could finally clinch a home playoff game this weekend. Any combination of Rider wins and Stampeder losses equaling 2 guarantees us a home playoff game. This is such a lock that not even the Riders could screw this up.

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Before we can start thinking about a home playoff game, we need to first concentrate on our game in Hamilton on Sunday. That's right, for the first time this season we face the mighty Ti-cats. A team which boasts such amazing stats as: Least points scored, 2nd worst in the league in total offense, and a defense which has given up more yards than any other in the league. Maybe it would be more accurate to call them the Ti-can'ts. To be fair though, they do lead the league in 1 category... most field goals. That means the key to winning this game will be to contain Hamilton's biggest offensive weapon Nick Setta.

So earlier in the season Hamilton decided that the fastest way to improve their fortunes would be to bring in a top-flight quarterback, Casey Printers. That's worked out real well so far. Printers fell victim to the injury bug before he had the opportunity to work out the hand cramps caused by his NFL clipboard holding days. In the few games he has played in he hasn’t be that outstanding. Based on the results so far, I have to think that if Hamilton thought they could sell more tickets by bringing in a famous Casey, they would have probably been better off to go with the puppet that used to live in Mr. Dressup's tree house. Seriously, for $500,000 I bet they could have got Finnegan and the tickle trunk thrown into the deal too.

Sources say that to compensate for poor ticket sales, the Ti-cats have introduced a new line of cologne. It's a little different though - you wear it and the other guy scores… Unless you're Nick Setta, apparently.

Another interesting storyline to follow this week will be homecomings. This will be the first time Flick, Boreham, Justin, Smith, Holmes, Gordon, Kornegay and Hill get to face their old team. Also it will be Armstead and French's first chance to show off their talent to their former team. This means we can expect Armstead to dance around for a long time on kick returns for a 1-2 yard gain and French to drop passes when he’s wide open since that’s what they both do best.

Based on how many guys on our roster will want to stick it to their old team, I see us winning in a big way on Sunday. Plus we're playing Hamilton.

Around the CFL...
Dave Dickenson will be suiting up this week for the Lions when they play Edmonton. According to Dickenson, dressing for the game is just part of the process for returning to play and he isn't likely going to see action. Right... because really, what are the odds of a 3rd stringer in BC being called into action? Then again, given that the Lions are playing the Eskimos I guess the chances of the pass rush posing any kind of danger to a BC QB is next to nil. Anyone else find it kind of ironic that the QB depth chart is the exact opposite of what it was at the start of the season?

Apparently Stamps QB Henry Burris has been medically cleared to play this week against Winnipeg. Many are amazed at how quickly Burris recovered from his dislocated shoulder. Not me. I highly doubt that the fact that Burris' "miracle recovery" coincided perfectly with the strong play of Ben Sankey is purely coincidence. In fact, sources say that Sankey is one more decent game away from being cut due to the clause in Hank's contract that states that the Stamps aren't allowed to have a capable back-up QB on the roster.
That's it for now. This is the Rider Prophet signing off.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Memories of Calgary

Well it's been 3 days since the Riders big win in Calgary and my head is finally clear enough to put some coherent thoughts together. So without further adieu here are my thoughts on the Thanksgiving weekend.

There's nothing quite like the atmosphere of a Rider game in Calgary... beautiful day, a cold can of Pilsner, some Frontlyne in the background and thousands of fellow Rider fans whooping it up in Cow-Town after a big Rider win. All in all it was a great weekend, unless of course you were a Calgary sports fan in which case it was a terrible weekend. The Flames lost... again. The Dinos lost to the Rams. And of course, the Stamps fell to the Riders.

Don't get me wrong, this was by no means a convincing win. In fact, the game was about as pretty as a Hamilton cheerleader... but we won and in the end that's all that matters. After the game I was talking with Paul Lapolice and I congratulated him on the win. He said "Yeah but we got 3's when we should have got 7's". I told him that I all I care about is 2's. (PS - the above conversation was not about a game of Go Fish between me and Paul. Though if we did have one I would easily win).

How great was it to see #29 directing traffic in the backfield again? He just makes the whole secondary play well as a unit. Even James Johnson, didn't seem to suck as much with Eddie back on the field. That says quite a bit about Eddie's talent, since making James Johnson look good is about as easy as making Mike Ricci look good.

There was quite a bit of speculation surrounding why the Stamps chose to close their practices all week, and it seems that the answer was that they were attempting to implement a 4-3 defensive package to replace the misguided 3-4 preferred by the equally misguided (and dearly missed, from any Rider fan's perspective) Denny Creehan. Turns out that when your best option at middle linebacker is Scott Coe, maybe 4-3 is not the way to go. Although then again, if your best option at middle linebacker is Scott Coe, you've pretty much already committed yourself to the Phoenix Suns' defensive philosophy anyway. Which works well in theory, unless the Akili's heel of your team is holding up your quarterback.

Speaking of Akili, I have to say that Tom Higgins made my entire weekend when he decided to pull Smith at halftime and put in Ben Sankey. He gave us more of a game than I was expecting, but it was mildly amusing to see a journeyman quarterback who hadn't played a down of CFL football in 3 years badly outplay the quarterback who was once selected with the 3rd overall pick in the NFL draft. Seriously, as draft blunders go, Akili makes Ducarmel Augustin look like a stroke of genius. It should really come as no surprise that a backup QB in Calgary didn't do well though as I'm pretty sure it states somewhere in Burris' contract that the Stampeders aren't allowed to have a QB on their roster that is remotely talented.

Well that's about it for now, check back tomorrow for my thoughts on this weekends games. Also, I promise to have the video footage from Calgary up soon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Prophet Goes to Calgary

I just got back from Calgary and I'm still feeling the effects of celebrating a Rider win. I'll have my post game analysis and a report from Man in the Bush a little later this week. I also will be posting the video footage of all the interviews I shot this weekend as soon as I figure out how to transfer it to my computer.

For now here's some pictures from the weekend.

Coach Austin and the Prophet after the game

Shaking hands with Ron Estay

Prophet with the voice of the Riders Rod Pedersen

Left to Right: Man in the Bush, Rider Prohet and Media Consultant

Rider Prophet with the Mayor Pat Fiacco before the game

Kitwana Jones and his biggest fan after the game

Bold prediction before the game

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Calgary Bound

Well, it’s almost Thanksgiving weekend. Thanksgiving is a time for family, football and of course turkey. Though our import players will probably know it better as "liberty bird”.

The Riders are getting ready for a big Thanksgiving Day match-up with the Calgary Stampeders. Not only is it a big game in terms of the standings, it’s also a big game because the Rider Prophet himself will be in attendance. That’s right, Saturday the whole Rider Prophet crew (Man in the Bush, Media Consultant and myself) will be hitting the highway for a weekend of fun in Cow-town! I can think of no better way to spend the long weekend than with thousands of my fellow Rider fans watching the Riders walk all over the Stampeders. Given the long weekend I decided to give today’s post a Thanksgiving theme.

To start off, I would like to address one thing. I keep hearing that this is an “unfair” game and a win really won’t mean that much since the Stamps are without starting QB Henry Burris. This is nothing but Calgary fans being a bunch of sucky babies. Does the lack of Henry give us an advantage? Yes. Should I feel sorry for the Stamps? No. Injuries happen. It’s not my fault that Calgary’s GM didn’t bother getting a capable back-up. Eric Tillman thought ahead and signed us a very capable back-up. BC is the top team in the league and they are playing with their 3rd stringer. Hamilton and Montreal have managed to win games with a back-up QB. So don’t complain to me about a hurt QB (this goes for Edmonton too). Maybe you should go complain to your GM who obviously wasn’t smart enough to acquire a decent back-up… Thanks for Eric Tillman

The Rider offense has been on a roll of late, fueled by the strong play of Kerry Joseph and Andy Fantuz as well as contributions from almost every offensive player on the roster. The Stamps defense by contrast is among the worst in the league, a fact that they apparently didn’t realize until this week (when they fired their defensive coordinator). Seriously these guys are easier to score on than a college girl at last call… Thanks for Calgary’s defense (or lack thereof)

On the flip side, I get to mention a name we haven’t heard in 9 games…Eddie Davis! He’s back!!! This will help our defense more than steroids helped Barry Bonds… well maybe not that much but you get the point. The Stamps do have a great RB and some dangerous WRs but with no one to get them the ball those receivers will be about as useful as Ricky Ray’s throwing arm (too soon?)… Thanks for Eddie Davis… and Barrick Nealy

If you are going to be in Calgary this weekend keep an eye out for the Rider Prophet and feel free to come up and say hi. I will be going around all weekend doing interviews and talking to Rider fans… Thanks for road trips!

Finally, thanks for Long Weekends! Hope you have a good one.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Prophet Sighting

The Rider Prophet with the Grey Cup. Is this a sign of things to come?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Riders Win!

In front of another sell-out crowd (the 4th straight at Mosaic), the Riders defeated the Montreal Alouettes 33-22. Finally, after 3 straight weeks of having to lament Rider losses, I get to talk about a Rider win. Which is good because after a losing streak that lasted close to a month I was shorter on decent material than Rob Vanstone since Henry Burris got hurt.

In my last entry I said that the keys to winning this game would be plugging up the middle and covering Thurmon. The Riders were able to do both. We held Payton to 31 yds and Thurmon only accounted for 1/3 of the Alouette passing game (which if you ask Marcel Bellefeuille is a major reason they lost). Don't get me wrong, our defense was by no means stellar (we did allow 410 passing yds) but they at least got the job done.

What impressed me the most this week was the offense. Kerry Joseph seems to have gotten his legs back as he ran for 73 yds and added 355 yds and 3 TDs through the air. As I expected, Fantuz had a monster game and the way he's playing, he should have a lot more to come. It was also nice to see Holmes get a couple TDs. The play of the game however was the DJ Flick TD. I mean Chip Cox had perfect coverage and Flick still managed to come up with the ball off the deflection. I think we can all relate to how hard it is to score when you are Cox blocked.

James Johnson reminds me of a high school cheerleader. He plays football about as well and he's constantly being taken advantage of by the QB. He's absolutely brutal plain and simple. If I never see him in green and white again it will be too soon. Here's a list of people I would rather see line up at DB: Patrick Kabongo, Bob Barker or a garden gnome.

I would also like to once again commend the efforts of Jamie “The Juggernaut” Boreham. I love watching this guy. Most teams have a punter who gets the ball off and then acts as a last resort for tackling if the returner breaks through everyone else. We have a punter who gets the ball off and then tries to outrun the coverage team and either recover the ball or punish the returner if they get it first. His success ratio in this regard is no small feat given that we have guys like Carter and Jones out there

Around the CFL...
If you were watching Friday Night Football you could see the exact moment when the Eskimos season officially ended. In the 2nd quarter, Willie Pile came untouched on an LB blitz and blindsided Ricky Ray. The result was Ray separating his throwing shoulder. That leaves the Eskimo offence in the hands of an unproven southpaw QB who's go to guy is a receiver with a broken thumb. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Calgary, not to be outdone, was forced to play Barrick Nealy after Akili Smith got hurt early in their game. I didn't think there was any way that Calgary's chances could get worse after losing Burris but they did.

It's really a bad time to be a QB in the CFL. Only 2 starters are left: Joseph and Glenn. In the words of Glen Suitor, to be a QB right now "You gotta have the nerve of a riverboat gambler". The injury list seems to grow each week: Dickenson, Pierce, Ray, Burris, Smith, Allen, Bishop, Calvillo, Brady, Printers. Not to mention Maas, Chang and McMahon who were benched. At a time like this, how awesome is it to have Crandell locked up for 2 more years? Given how desperate Edmonton and Calgary must be for a QB, don't be surprised if there's a missing person ad featuring Nealon Greene on the next carton of milk you buy.

That's it for now. This weekend the Riders will be in Calgary and the whole Rider Prophet crew will be making the trip as well. Media Consultant, Man in the Bush and myself will be invading Cowtown, so check back later as we gear up for the game and the road trip.