Thursday, November 29, 2007
Post Grey Cup Thoughts
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
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Grey Cup Champions
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
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
Airport Part I
Airport Part II
Airport Part III
Airport Part IV
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!!!
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
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
Be sure to listen Friday morning at 8 on CBC Radio (540 on your AM dial)
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Interview with Troy
Interview with Gov
Interview with Man in the Bush
The Green Mile
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Riders Win At Home!
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
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 Chrétien 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
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?
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
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.