Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Blasphemous Christmas For All

The holiday season is such a special time because it marks a celebration for many different groups.

If you are a Christian, like me, you believe that Christmas is when Jesus was born and subsequently visited by 3 wise men who brought gifts of a sleigh, toy filled sack and a red velvet suit. Jesus was then exposed the radioactive ooze and morphed into Santa Clause, commandeering the reindeer that the wise men were riding and flying to the North Pole to defeat the Abominable Snowman and freeing the elves… only to later re-enslave them in his toy workshop.

If you are Japanese you believe that this is the time when Annual Gift Man leaves his home on the moon to deliver toys in an efficient manner while manoeuvring around Godzilla. Annual Gift Man gives good children superiorly crafted Japanese electronics while bad children receive a ninja kick to the face.

Perhaps you are Jewish and will soon be off to temple to don your propeller-less beanie and listen to the ancient story of how the Fonz used the grease from his hair to keep candles burning for 8 days while Martha Stewart’s ancestors redecorated the temple.

Perhaps you are Hindu and your holiday celebrations involve commemorating gods such as Papa Smurf, The Elephant Man and Johnny Six-arms.

Our African American readers may be celebrating Kwanzaa which was created as an alternative to existing holidays to celebrate African American culture. They briefly considered just modifying the idea of Christmas to more prominently feature African Americans but they ended up deciding against it when they realized that if people saw a black person in a fur-lined coat entering a house while people are sleeping with a big sack their first instinct would be to call the cops.

Perhaps you are Scottish and celebrating Hogmania – the festival of pork, about to enjoy a celebratory ham… what’s that?... it’s called Hogmanay?... I like my version better. I mean who wouldn’t want bacon in their stocking?

Or maybe Festivus is more your thing in which case best of luck in the feats of strength.

No matter what your reason for celebration is, the whole Rider Prophet crew would like to wish you all the best over this holiday season. We will be taking a short break over Christmas but will be back in the New Year with more football news and irreverent commentary. Merry Christmas everybody.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Morning Sentimonies: The More Things Stay The Same

It seems as though 2010 is set to start pretty much the same way 2009 started in the CFL… Montreal is good, BC is regressing, Edmonton is trying to address their awful defense, Winnipeg and Toronto are yet again looking for a head coach, the Riders don’t have many draft picks left and Eric Tillman is still dealing with legal troubles.

Since the CFL is doing it, I decided that I might as well turn back the clock as well and start 2010 like I did 2009 (mostly because its easier to do that then to put work into coming up with something better). And you know what that means… the likely not anticipated at all return of Random Quasi-Coherent Thoughts where I throw a bunch of words together in point form and pray that they are coherent enough to not to alienate my readers.

- Chris Getzlaf has agreed to a 2 year plus an option extension with the Riders. While this is good news for the Riders, it’s not like it was a big surprise. The odds of Getzlaf signing elsewhere were roughly equivalent to the odds of Roy Halladay spending next season with the Blue Jays. Getzlaf was born and raised here in Regina so it’s not like he was going anywhere. Much like previous contract negotiations with local residents such as Neal Hughes, Chris Szarka and Mike McCullough, it was probably concluded in less than 5 minutes and went something like this… “So Chris, you wanna keep playing here? Good, then sign here.”

- Richie Hall will assume the Defensive Coordinator duties for the Eskimos next season. While on the surface replacing Jim Daley with Richie Hall seems like a massive upgrade on the defensive side of the ball, I really don’t think much will change for the Esks. Given the heavy use of the Scott Gordon blitz I think it’s safe to assume that Hall was already heavily involved with the defensive calls this past season. Besides, even the best defensive coach couldn’t muster a credible defense with the limited talent Maciocia has given them to work with.

- After conducting a study on the matter, the Argos have determined that BMO Field is not capable of being used as a CFL venue as they had hoped. So I guess they are stuck in crappy old Skydome for the foreseeable future… with the worst GM in the league… and no coach… and a roster so devoid of talent that it makes the Lithuanian hockey team look good by comparison… talk about a tough time to be an Argo fan. Then again if there was ever a city that was used to really bad sports teams, it’s Toronto.

- Marc Trestman has signed a 3 year extension with the Alouettes. This was pretty much a no brainer. Trestman has led the Als to the Grey Cup in each of his 2 seasons on the job. About the only way he was going to end up leaving town is if he simultaneously insulted the Habs, poutine, Bonhomme Carnaval, Rock Voisine and announced that he would prefer it if people referred to the team as the Skylarks because the French translation is too sissy for his liking.

CFL Ins and Outs


In: Andre Durie (re-signed)

I give Durie credit for his courage. Not many people would ink a 3 year extension with the worst team in the league fresh off the head coach being fired. That’s pretty courageous… not very smart mind you… but courageous nonetheless.


In: Dean Valli (re-signed)

He sure did.


Out: John Comiskey (cut)

I’m thinking we should sign him. If history is any indication by the time training camp rolls around he will get “buyer’s remorse” and we’ll be able to trade him back to Edmonton for a 1st round draft pick.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mike Kelly You Genius

And here I was expecting a slow December….

The tumultuous tenure of Mike Kelly in Winnipeg came to an end yesterday. And in true Mike Kelly fashion he went out swinging… literally. He was fired by the Bombers “based strictly on last year’s performance”… and in what is surely nothing more than a coincidence, Mike Kelly was charged with assault yesterday (just prior to being fired) after allegedly getting in fist fight with his ex-girlfriend.

Now the events leading up the firing are odd to say the least. Follow along if you can. On Wednesday, it was reported that Mike Kelly was going to return in 2010 as part of Lyle Bauer’s plans for the future. Thursday, Lyle Bauer abruptly resigns. A little later on Thursday news of Kelly’s arrest surfaces. Later that day, the Bombers fire Kelly.

This whole situation raises many questions (which I will do my best to answer)…

- Did Bauer resign to avoid dealing with the impending Kelly fiasco? Probably. There was speculation that Bauer was headed to Calgary to fill their vacant president role anyway so it was smart thinking on the part of Bauer to jump ship before this whole Kelly thing blew up.

- Was the arrest the reason for Kelly’s firing? No… but it definitely made the decision easier. Kelly was Lyle Bauer’s chosen one and after the gong show season Winnipeg endured Bauer was about Kelly’s only remaining supporter. With him no longer there to protect Kelly, he was most likely going to be ousted anyway. The whole assault charge just sped up the process and was likely the final nail in the coffin that Kelly had spent the last few months building for himself.

- Are the Bombers better off because of this? Absolutely.

- There’s a woman on this earth willing to date Mike Kelly? Seriously, that is mind boggling to me! Even just seeing him in HD almost makes me vomit. I can’t imagine any woman willingly subjecting themselves to a relationship with that man (or any football team for that matter). I mean unless he met her in Winnipeg I can’t fathom a woman with standards that low.

- Other than Kelly, who’s the big loser in all of this? Michael Bishop. Much as Bauer was Kelly’s only remaining supporter, Kelly was Bishop’s only remaining supporter. Assuming the Bombers hire a replacement coach with half a brain I’m guessing that the “let’s bring Michael Bishop to training camp next year” plan will be out the window… in related news, the Rider Prophet is heartbroken over this last development.

- Why wasn’t he placed on Administrative Leave like Tillman? Turns out teams are only interested in keeping you around during legal troubles when you are good at what you do.

On a side note: When did it become a yearly tradition for a CFL GM to be charged with assault in the offseason?

And so the man who brought us a lifetime’s worth of controversy in just 12 months will not be back for an encore performance (much to the chagrin of everyone outside of Winnipeg). But given Kelly’s unprecedented ability to make the news for all the wrong reasons, I figured that as we bid him adieu we should look back at the top Mike Kelly moments from this past year

Top 10 Mike Kelly Moments

10 – Taman and Napkins

Having only been on the job a matter of weeks, Kelly took a shot a Brendan Taman’s scouting abilities saying he must have kept all his notes on napkins. Thing is Kelly went on to do the same things as Taman (acquire other teams’ rejects, trade any and all draft picks for Americans and have no decent prospects on his neg. list) only he managed to do it even worse than Taman.

9 – Crotch of Canada

Kelly tried to pour gas on the Bomber/Rider rivalry by saying “We kind of raided the toothless, green, watermelon-helmet-wearing people from the crotch of Canada”. Thing is he really only made himself look like a dumbass since what he considers “raided”, the Riders considered “overpaying for 2 tackles not good enough to start on our team; trading away your best linemen for a receiver who had a severe case of the dropsies; and taking one of the worst DB to ever win an award off our hands”.

8 – Spying is a Non-Issue

Prior to a game against Winnipeg, the Ti-cats caught a Bomber scout spying on their practice. Kelly responded that is was a non-issue that was handled internally… and then went out and lost the game to the Ti-Cats. Generally the point of cheating is to gain the advantage over your opponent. It’s pretty bad when you lose in spite of spying on your opponent.

7 – Put your money where your mouth is

Whether it be for having QBs attend offseason camps or for making disparaging comments towards the league, its rules, its officials etc., Kelly ended up donating a lot of his salary back to the league in the form of fines. In fact at the rate Kelly was going the league could have afforded to build a new stadium in Ottawa by themselves if he had lasted the entire length of his contract.

6 – Endearing himself to the fans

As if fielding an embarrassing football team wasn’t enough, Kelly managed to further piss off the residents of Manitoba with his weekly call-in radio show where he would routinely insult callers who dared to question his coaching abilities. The ironic thing is that after spending most of the season insulting the fans for working at McDonalds, he might have to resort to a McJob himself to pay the bills.

5 – Shotgun… Not For Me

Despite its universal acceptance in the CFL, NFL, NCAA and pretty much any reputable football league, Mike Kelly stated that the shotgun formation was for “flag football and guys that haven’t coached quarterbacks very well”. Not surprisingly, while coaches who used the shotgun formation had successful passing attacks, Kelly’s passing attack ended up being by far the worst in the league barely averaging 200 yards per game.

4 – Barrin Simpson

Kelly made news yet again when he tried to place Barrin Simpson on the 9 game injured list. The problem was that league rules require a player to sign off on being placed on the 9-game and Simpson refused to do so… mainly because he was healthy enough to play. After the league determined Kelly couldn’t put Simpson on the 9-game, Kelly barred Simpson from practice only to end up calling him back and inserting him in the starting line-up a little over a week later when Joe Lobendahn go hurt. I doubt Kelly will be receiving a Christmas card from Simpson.

3 – Use LeFors

Kelly gambled big on the unproven south paw QB… and it was an epic fail. Not only did he trade multiple draft picks for LeFors he also made room for him by cutting Kevin Glenn (who ended up leading the Ti-Cats to the playoffs) and passing on Casey Printers (who ended up leading the Lions to the playoffs).

2 – Pacman Fever

Kelly’s most high profile blunder came just before Labour Day when word got out that he was going to sign Pacman Jones (what most people don’t know is that the move was part of the federal government’s stimulus spending as an attempt to jumpstart fledgling Manitoba strip clubs). The media furor which resulted caused the Bombers to reconsider the highly controversial move… which suited Pacman fine because he thought he was being signed by the UFL anyway.

To add insult to… well insult, Kelly also attempted to sign Charles Rogers (another first round bust) only to find out that he couldn’t because Rogers was currently suspended by the NFL.

1 – Michael Bishop

While certainly not his most controversial or high profile moment, the signing of Michael Bishop was my top moment. Mainly because a losing season in Winnipeg full of embarrassingly hilarious moments of failure.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Welcome to the Offseason

Admittedly some of my posts are random pieces of actual news loosely thrown together with some mediocre attempts at humour and a bunch of words that serve as nothing more than filler to make it look like the post actually has some substance.. and that’s when the season is in full swing. You can imagine how much worse things get in the offseason when CFL news is harder to find than a Las Vegas mistress that Tiger Woods hasn’t fooled around with.

But as I always do, I will try my hardest… well okay I’ll try… well it’s probably more accurate to say I’ll make a half-assed attempt to try

So let’s take a look at the few bits of CFL News …

Bart Andrus has been fired by the Argos. This isn’t a huge surprise given that Andrus led the Argos to the CFL basement. It is however a sign of a team in shambles. To be fair to Andrus, he walked into a team with the worst Canadian talent in the league, a scouting system based entirely around has-been NFLers and only 1 talented offensive weapon. But it’s not like Andrus made the best of a bad situation… he pretty much did the opposite and made things much much worse. He knew about as much about Canadian football as Pacman Jones but instead of surrounding himself with a coaching staff that was well versed in the nuances of the CFL (like Marc Trestman did), he went out and hired a bunch of out of work NFL Europe coaches. I can only assume that his logic was that his assistants had previously won a World Bowl so since Canada is part of the “the world” this should be a snap. He also made the genius decision to trade away his only offensive weapon Arland Bruce (who happened to go on to be an all-star and Hamilton’s MOP) as well as keeping perennial all-star Byron Parker on the bench until trading him away too (he went on to haul in 3 INTs in his short time in Edmonton). He was expected to rejuvenate the offense based on his experience as an Offensive Assistant in the NFL but that worked out about as well as Van Halen’s attempt to rejuvenate their careers with Gary Cherone as their lead singer. Andrus can now return to a life of sleeping in a coffin by day and feeding on the blood of the innocent by night (which actually sounds kinda fun).

This firing means that the Argos will enter the 2010 season with their 5
th head coach in 4 years, which is ridiculous. If they had a talented roster that was being held back by bad coaching I could see continually blaming the coach. But when your roster contains no talented QBs, an old RB as your only offensive weapon, a porous defense, and next to no Canadian talent maybe you should be blaming the GM. The team has been on a consistent decline since 2005 and I don’t see anything to indicate that will be changing anytime soon. Unless they fix things at the top, they’ll just be firing another coach after a losing 2010 season. At this rate it would probably just be easier to hire a temp instead of a real coach. They would have about the same chance of success, would come far cheaper and would be easier to part ways with next December.

Jim Daley has stepped down as Defensive Coordinator of the Eskimos for “personal reasons”. While the team wouldn’t expand further on this, I figure its one of 2 possible explanations. 1 – Jim Daley was personally offended by the lack of talent he was given to work with or 2 – he was personally unable to meet Coach Hall’s ridiculously high expectations of fielding a “mediocre defense”.

Other coaches to be moving on include Stamps Special Teams Coach Craig Dickenson and BC QB Coach Steff Kruck. While Dickenson is leaving so he can travel the world for a year, in Kruck’s case his contract is not being renewed which I can only assume means the Leos were unhappy with his performance. Given BC’s QB situation it would take someone who could instantaneously heal concussions and shoulder injuries as well as magically bestow intelligence on the moronic to be successful… so unless they manage to hire Jesus, I’m guessing they will once again be disappointed.

Brandon Browner and Markeith Knowlton will be trying out for the Minnesota Vikings. I’m a bit torn on this. As a CFL fan I am definitely in favour of anything that would lead to not having to watch Browner ever again nor listen to an announcer rave about his supposed talent. However as a Vikings fan, I’m having concerns about their scouting. I can only hope that they envision him playing special teams because if Browner has to clutch and grab CFL receivers to keep up, how bad are the NFL ones going to embarrass him?

We’ll end with
CFL Ins and Outs though I have nothing particular to say about any of these…


In: OL Chris Best, DL Luc Mullinder (re-signed)


In: OL Derek Armstrong (trade with Calgary)


In: DL Kai Ellis, OL Patrick Kabongo (re-signed)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Third Annual Rider Prophet Awards

They say good things come in threes. Apparently mediocre at best things do as well since its time to present the 3
rd Annual Rider Prophet Awards. This year’s award winners will receive a no-expense paid trip to a destination of their choice along with a coupon for 10% off a Rider Prophet T-shirt.

Best Player Name

This year there was some tough competition in this category from the likes of Jamaica Rector and De’Audra Dix. They ended up being no match for this year’s winner…Winnipeg receiver Craphonso Thorpe. I wonder what made his parents go “Man! What a great idea for a first name!”. Unfortunately for Craphonso, he played like the first syllable of his name and got cut by the Blue Bombers midway through the season.

Previous winners:
Charleston Hughes, Chijioke Onyenegecha

Quote of the Year

With perennial winner Mike Abou-Mechrek out of the picture, this category was wide open. It ended up being another Roughrider to step up and steal the spotlight… though not one I would have expected.

While Jason Clermont’s contributions on the field may have been fairly limited, his contributions in the media were anything but. His weekly column in the Leader Post was always a good read, mainly because it steadily transitioned from well written articles on relevant football matters to the random (and often hilarious) musings of a man with too much time on his hands. This year’s quote of the year comes from his column before Labour Day when he unleashed this gem while explaining the meaning of “making it rain”…

The No. 1-rated definition from defines making it rain as: "When you're in da club with a stack, and you throw the money up in the air at the strippers. The effect is that it seems to be raining money."

Apparently a "stack'' is equal to $1,000, and Pacman (Stackman?) Jones had close to 100 "stacks'' when he made it rain inside a Las Vegas strip club in February of 2007, during the NBA all-star weekend.

Previous Winner: Mike Abou-Mechrek x 2

Play of the Year

The moment I saw this play back in August, I declared it the hands down winner of this award regardless of what happened in the remaining 3 months of the season. For reaching hilarious new lows in ineptness, I award Michael Bishop the Play of the Year Award for knocking himself unconscious on his own blocker.

Seriously that just never gets old.

Botched Call of the Year

Despite the fact that the Riders were on the wrong end up a couple botched calls this season, all of them pale in comparison to this year’s winner (as sad as that is).

It was Labour Day weekend and the heavily favoured Alouettes were in BC to take on the struggling Lions. BC had the lead in the dying minutes of the game. Calvillo drove the offense down to the redzone and in the dying seconds of the game Avon Cobourne ran off-tackle for a game tying TD… but hold on a second there were flags thrown. I assumed it was holding but I was wrong and the actual call amazes me to this day.

The referee ruled that the game clock was not properly set and therefore the previous play did not count. That’s right, a game tying TD for Montreal was negated due to an error by the timekeeper. The worst part was that the ref asked that the game clock be reset to 1 minute which is exactly what it was set at already. Absolutely ridiculous!

The Commercial I Didn’t Get Sick Of Seeing Even Though TSN Made Me Watch It 54,297 Times Award

The season started out with so many bad commercials that I was worried that I might have to cancel this award this year. Then out of nowhere came this commercial which instantly became my favourite because of what the walrus does at the start of the commercial.

It took me a while to actually find the clip of this commercial because I was always laughing too hard at the ass tapping to notice what the commercial was actually for. And when you have nothing to go on except “walrus tapping ass” for an internet search… let’s just say the results tend not to be what you had intended… though an alarming amount of the search results feature Man in the Bush. Those are some mighty fine tusks.

Fans Choice Douche-Bag of the Year

You the fans have spoken and with an overwhelming 66% of the vote (the largest majority ever) have chosen Mike Kelly as your Douche Bag of The Year.

Kelly’s achievements in the field of douche baggery include: cutting Kevin Glenn in favour of Stephan LeFors; sending a spy to a Hamilton practice (though that was a non-issue that was handled internally); making disparaging remarks towards league officials, refs, fans and the media; attempting to sign Pacman Jones; referring to Saskatchewan as the Crotch of Canada; trying to force Barrin Simpson on to the 9-game; dismissing the shotgun formation as something for less intelligent coaches; and all this while fielding one of the most embarrassing teams in the CFL (with apologies to the Argos).

Previous winners: Jason Jimenez, Rob Murphy

Most Insulted Sports Figure

For the 2
nd year in a row Michael Bishop has defied the odds and managed to go from not even in contention at the start of the season to “insurmountable lead” in the middle of the season in mere weeks. The great thing about this year was that he was on a different team and so I was able to enjoy watching his failures without having them negatively affect my team… that’s win-win (unless you are the Bombers in which case it was more like INT-loss).

If I didn’t have Bishop jokes to fill the space on this blog I would probably have to cut back to a once a week post that was no more than a paragraph. Fortunately, the early indication is that the Bombers intend to bring Bishop to training camp next year so it looks like I’ll be alright for the foreseeable future.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Prophecies Revisited

The season has come to a close and it’s time to look back and see just how accurate my preseason predictions were. As per usual, I will use a completely arbitrary scoring system (much like a French judge) in order to make me look good. Let's see how I did...

This season will be Durant's big chance to shine
While many are worried, I think we’ll be fine.
Western All-Star, Team MOP, led us to a 1st Place finish, yeah we were fine... 1 point

It won’t always be pretty but he’s got weapons galore
Dressler, Clermont, Fantuz, there’s no way we don’t score.
The large number of INTs weren’t pretty but #2 scoring offense in the league... 1 point

With Geno and Smith out the O-line will be new
But Parenteau will be awesome and Belton will too.
Line was new. Parenteau was okay, Belton was hurt... 0.5 points

Hugh Charles will do fine until Wes Cates get’s back
Get ready for a very potent offensive attack.
4 TDs in Cates’ brief absence... 1 point

Defense is a question mark but it sure won’t be plain
Mainly because Etch is quasi-insane.
Quasi-insane was an understatement... 1 point

Success won’t come quickly, it will take some time
But by midseason the D will be in their prime.
Struggled after a hot start, but played great down the stretch... 1 point

Our schemes will be unorthodox but that’s how it goes
Watch Baggs wreak havoc despite his pigeon toes.
Among lead leaders in sacks, 3 time defensive player of the week... 1 point

Patrick at safety will pick off more than a few
Unless you define “a few” as 1, Patrick’s 2 INTs aren’t quite enough... 0 points

And Sean Lucas will get recognition that's long overdue.
Western All-star... 1 point

Kavis Reed controls Special Teams and he ain’t no schmuk
I have a feeling for once our kick returns won’t suck.
Although they became dangerous late in the season, they sucked balls to start... 0.5 points

Our start won’t be pretty and fans will distress
“We want Printers and Dinwiddie!” they will obsess.
Durant’s early struggles had people calling for his head... 1 point

But we’ll climb back to 500 by our Labour Day feud
4-4 heading into Labour Day (damn I’m good)... 1 point

Unless we keep getting injured… in which case we’re screwed.
Injured – yes. Screwed – Surprisingly no... 0 points

A late season hot streak will turn the tide
On a wave of momentum the team will ride.
Only 1 loss in our last 5 games... 1 point

In terms of our record, I must confess
For the past 2 years I’ve had the same guess.
Same prediction again? what could be the harm?
11 – 7! (3rd time's the charm).
If not for that tie I would have been bang on... 0.5 points

With a 2nd place finish we’ll be playoff bound
To play BC at Mosaic’s hallowed ground.
Finished first, played the Stamps (at least the Mosaic part was right)... 0 points

Without Bishop to stop us, this time we’ll succeed
A last minute TD will give us the lead.
Rider Nation will once again be jolly
Clermont will be the hero and give the finger to Wally.
Then on to Calgary to take on the champs
Umm... well... the Bishop part was right... 0 points

This kills me to say, but we’ll lose to the Stamps.
We’ll exceed expectations but fall short on that day
We're not quite ready to go all the way.
Swing and a miss... 0 points

So there’s my predictions for the upcoming season
But if you’re skeptical it is with good reason.
For as history will show there’s no reason to dismay
A third of what’s written will be wrong anyway.
Gotta love the irony in correctly predicting how many predictions I would get wrong... 1 point

So the grand total is 12.5 points out of a possible 19 for a 66% accuracy rate. Which, convenially enough, is perfectly in line with my career accuracy rate. I’m nothing if not consistent.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Time to Vote

The 3rd Annual Rider Prophet Awards are just around the corner. That means the time has come to cast your vote for the Fans’ Choice Douche Bag Of The Year.

Which of our nominees should be recognized for their outstanding achievements in the field of douche baggery? Let us know by voting above.

A Decade Of Disappointment

Ever since Sunday’s disappointing Grey Cup loss, Rider fans have been clamouring to know who the now infamous 13
th Man was on the field. The coach’s have come out and done the right thing by taking the blame and refusing to identify a specific player. This has not stopped fans and the media from speculating and searching tirelessly for the identity of the player that is to blame.

At first, I didn’t quite get the point. It’s not like knowing who the mystery man was will change anything or make the loss any easier to swallow. But then as I thought about it more I realized that blaming a player for our post season disappointment has become pretty much an annual occurrence for Rider fans this decade. Even I myself am guilty of doing so year after year.

So let’s look back on who I have blamed over this past decade for our postseason disappointment.

In 2000 and 2001, the disappointment stemmed from not even making it to the post season. Though disappointment may be the wrong word because given how bad our team was those years it’s not like missing the playoffs was a big surprise to anyone. I will lump in the 2002 season under this umbrella too. Although we did manage to make the playoffs that year, it’s not like we were a good enough team to expect to go anywhere.

In 2003, a strange phenomenon happened. We had actually assembled a team that was talented enough to legitimately expect postseason success. But as any Rider knows all too well, with expectations comes disappointment. In 2003 I personally blamed Nealon Greene. He was atrocious in the West Final (well to be fair it wasn’t just the West Final he was atrocious in but let’s try and stay on point). Late in the 4
th we finally put in Kevin Glenn who almost managed to salvage that game in miraculous fashion.

In 2004, it was Paul McCallum who was blamed for our postseason disappointment after missing a now infamous 18 yard FG in overtime.

In 2005, I blamed Marcel Bellefeuille. His offensive game plan was non existent in the 1
st half. He managed to come up with one for the second half but the only problem was that it involved 10 minutes drives for FGs despite being down 3 TDs.

In 2006
, I blamed another coach for our failures. Evidently, Danny Barrett didn’t think noise would be that big of an issue in BC Place during the West Final and his half hearted attempt at instituting a silent snap count the practice before the big game failed miserably.

While we did manage to win the Cup in 2007, I was still somewhat disappointed and blamed a specific player for that disappointment… James Johnson. Why oh why did a joyous championship victory have to be tainted by my least favourite player??

In 2008 I blamed Michael Bishop… so did the majority of the Rider defensive players.

How’s that for a depressing look back at the past decade for the Riders?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rider Prophet in The Media

In the days and hours leading up to the Grey Cup the Rider Prophet was a very popular guy. I posed for a ton of photos outside of McMahon on Sunday afternoon. Just like this one from the Calgary Sun… There's a short write up too. Check it out here.

Here another article from The Canadian Press… unfortunately it seems that reporter Shannon Montgomery is either colour blind or failed the unit on colours in Kindergarten because she writes that I “wore a blue and green housecoat and a white curly beard...” Look Shannon, if you don't correct your blatant inaccuracies soon, the only thing you'll be qualified to write is an online blog.

Lastly, here’s a link to my appearance on CBC National. Don’t blink though or you may miss me. After spending hours in my house, shooting a variety of scenes and shots, they decided to only use roughly 3 seconds of footage. Man, if they need to shoot an hour of footage for every second that makes it on TV, no wonder they are constantly asking for more government funding.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Heartbroken

Rider 27 – Montreal 28

As time expired on Sunday, I sat in the stands… head in my hands. Unable to move. Unable to speak. Unable to comprehend what had just occurred. I had just witnessed over 59 minutes of the most exciting football I had ever seen, yet the events of those final seconds will be what we all remember of the 2009 Grey Cup. It didn’t matter that we outplayed the best team in the league for most of the game. It didn’t matter that we had the lead for all but the final second of the game. It didn’t matter that Montreal missed the FG that should have decided the game. It didn’t matter that tens of thousands of Rider fans were set to launch a celebration like no one had ever seen. All that mattered was one mistake. One mental error that was uncharacteristic of our team but ultimately decided the outcome of what was otherwise an absolute classic finale to the CFL season. Players, coaches, fans, a nation, heartbroken.

While I walked into McMahon Stadium fully expecting a win, I had resigned myself to the fact that there would be no shame in losing to a heavily favoured Alouette team. But to lose the way we did is a bitter pill to swallow.

Unlike many, I don’t care who screwed up. I’m not looking for a scapegoat to tar and feather, it doesn’t really matter at this point… besides there is no money in the budget for either tar or feathers as I spent the bulk of it in an Asian karaoke bar in downtown Calgary (it’s a long story). There was a screw up, it cost us the game, it sucks balls but singling out the 1 player responsible won’t change anything. They played as a team, they lost as a team. Besides there were other moments in that game that if they had gone differently would have led to us celebrating instead of lamenting: if Congi doesn’t miss a FG we win, if Durant doesn’t toss up that desperation long pass that gets picked off we win, if we recover that bobbled punt we win, if we attempt a pass over 2 yards and make that final 1
st down we win. We win as a team, we lose as a team.

Ultimately when we look back on the 2009 season we will have to consider it a success. A 1
st place finish, a Grey Cup appearance, a Defensive Player of the Year, a closely fought championship battle with the best team in the CFL… all with a very young team. Despite the last play of the year, it was a phenomenal season by the Riders and given how young the core of this team is, it gives us great hope that many more seasons like this are in store over the next few years.

Mark my words: Buy your Edmonton Grey Cup tickets when they go on sale because the Riders will be back there next year.

A couple final thoughts:

- Thanks to those of you who came up and said hi before the game. It was nice to meet you. It was also nice to be recognized as the Rider Prophet instead of some of the other guesses people came up with such as Jesus, Santa or my personal favourite Heavy Metal Moses.

- It was ironic that the winner of the 50/50 at the game took home $75,000… which is more that a lot of the actual players made all season.

Note to Stampeder fans: I don’t begrudge you for cheering against us (lord knows I cheered against you last year), that’s fine. But when some of you come up to us after the loss and try telling us how much we suck, it just makes you look like an idiot. If the Riders suck because they couldn’t beat the Als… then how much worse must the Stampeders be if they couldn’t even beat our supposedly sucky team?

And thus ends the 2009 CFL season, but don’t go anywhere over the offseason. I have plenty in store for you to help you through the long offseason ahead. In addition to keeping you up to date on all the signings and offseason moves of the Riders and the rest of the CFL, we will also have our typical assortment of filler posts to keep you entertained until training camp rolls around again.

Friday, November 27, 2009

On This Day In Roughrider History: Good Old Inflation

As Rider fans clamour to snap up the last remaining Grey Cup tickets, I thought it would appropriate to look back on an interesting bit of Grey Cup ticket history.

43 years ago Rider fans were doing the exact same thing in preparation for the 1966 Grey Cup to see the likes of Ron Lancaster and George Reed attempt to win the first Grey Cup in franchise history. While you know how that story ends, what you might not know is the great financial lengths fans had to go to to get their hands on those tickets.

On this day, back in 1966, Grey Cup tickets could be purchased for the exorbitant price of $10… 43 years later the Rider Prophet would pay a heck of a lot more for such a ticket. In fact, I could have bought an entire section at the ’66 Grey Cup for what I paid and still had money left over for a post-game prostitute… err… I mean post game pros…perous trip to the casino. (Ah, I covered that up nicely).

Inflation, an unfortunate part of our Grey Cup heritage.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rider Prophet on TV

Be sure to check out CBC's The National on Friday. Your friendly neighbourhood Prophet will be featured in one of the stories.

Grey Cup 2009: Any Given Sunday

The CFL season has 77 games. 76 of those have came and went. Some we remember, some we’d like to forget, others we’d like to remember but can’t due to alcohol related amnesia. The 77
th game is greater than all of the others combined. When it kicks off on Sunday afternoon the results of the previous 76 games will become as valuable as my Akili Smith rookie card. It’s one game for the top prize in Canadian Football.

This time around is a weird feeling as a Rider fan. Normally, Rider trips to the Grey Cup come decades apart and as such seem like a brand new event those rare times they come up. This time though, we are but 24 months removed from hoisting the Cup in Toronto... it almost seems like business as usual this time around. If history is any indication this Grey Cup appearance is about 8-10 years earlier than expected.

Of course all the talk so far this week has centered around how good the Alouettes are. They are 15-3, they have the top offense in the league, they have the stingiest defense, Calvillo is robotically efficient in picking apart defenses, they beat the Riders twice, their sweat has been reported to cure rare blood disorders in underprivileged kids, and their linemen donate their back hair to make winter coats for hairless dogs. The way the picture is being painted, it would take 7 simultaneous miracles for the Riders to even be competitive in this game. And while much of the hype in well founded. There are plenty of reasons for optimism as Rider fans…

This “top offense” only scored one more TD than the Riders and relied on FGs for the rest of their output.
This “top defense” was torched by Durant for over 300 yards the last time we played and Durant has improved greatly since that game.
Calvillo is not as good as last year. He threw for 17 less TDs and 1000 less yards compared to last year. He was a better QB last year and couldn’t win the big one, why are his odds suddenly better this year?
In our last meeting we held AC under 200 passing yards and sacked him 4 times. If not for some costly turnovers and a bad punt return TD we had a chance to beat the Als.
This is essentially the same Alouette team that lost last year at home but instead of the friendly confines of Olympic Stadium they get to experience Mosaic’s Stadium new temporary location… which is anything but friendly.
This decade the Calvillo led Als are 1-5 in the big game. They're like a French Buffalo Bills (well except the Als at least managed to win once and the Bills likely bathe once in a while).

Don’t get me wrong, the Als will be extremely tough to beat but the odds are nowhere near as impossible as they are being made out to be. The Als are the best team in the CFL and admittedly a better team than us on paper but when it all comes down to 60 minutes, anything can happen. Sports history is littered with highly favoured teams who came up short when it mattered most: the ’76 Riders, ’89 Eskimos, the ’02 St. Louis Rams, the ’07 Pakistan Cricket team, ’75 Chess Grandmaster Nicolas Rossolimo. Most famously remember the ’08 Patriots. They were shattering scoring records and treating their opponents like speed bumps on their way to eventual perfection and seemed unstoppable… until one fateful Sunday when they dominance was abruptly halted by a supposedly inferior team. Sound familiar?

Two things will have to happen for the Riders to emerge victorious. #1 – Darian Durant will have to be our MVP. He has to play turnover-free football. He’s proven before that he can beat the Als through the air, so he needs to step up and do it again. I think Bagg and Fantuz will have big games. #2 – Our secondary needs to play the game of their lives. They need to make Calvillo hold the ball long enough for our pass rush to get there. If the short passing game is there for AC and his cast of talented receivers, he will pick us apart without even coming close to taking a hit. We need to hit him hard and often. That will require good coverage in the secondary to give our line that extra second to get to the QB.

Special teams will also play a big role in this game. Both teams feature returners capable of taking one back at any time and I predict we will see a return TD on Sunday… I just pray that Armstead is the one to do it.

Montreal has the advantage in terms of skill but I think the Riders bring an emotional edge which will be heightened by a raucous home crowd… not to mention the presence of their very own Prophet who will lead them to the promised land. It will be a high scoring, closely fought battle that will be decided late in the 4
th quarter. Calvillo may hoist the league MOP tonight but on Sunday the Riders resiliency will shine through and they will be the ones to hoist the Cup for only the 4th time in franchise history.

Riders by an Andy Fantuz TD.

If you will be one of the thousands of Rider fans joining me in the streets of Calgary on Saturday or the stands of McMahon on Sunday let’s get ready for a crazy weekend culminating in the biggest game of the year (which will likely coincide with the biggest hangover of the year).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Morning Sentimonies: West Division Champions!

Riders 27 – Stampeders 17


If you are like me, you are still shaking with excitement following last nights win (you are also tired, have a hoarse throat and wish you were currently riding an ostrich). The Riders turned in a tremendous team effort and outplayed the Stamps in every facet of the game. Most notably, our QB played like a champion while their QB… well he played like Henry Burris.

The crowd was outstanding. It was so loud that no one could hear the entrance music and the intensity did not diminish.

The start of the game was eerily similar to last year’s playoff game… defense busting their asses and offense offering no support. Fortunately Durant’s struggles, unlike a certain moronic QB that preceded him, didn’t included a bevy of INTs and were only short lived. The defense did their part to keep things close until the offense could get things going. And once they did, we never looked back.

Our defense was ferocious. There were times when all the Stamps linemen could do was hold us because our pass rush was powering through them. Rey Williams was a beast notching up 10 tackles and 3 sacks. And how about James Patrick? He’s finally being the difference maker at safety we all hoped he could be. I was also impressed at how they were able to limit Reynolds. To be fair, the main way they did so was by flustering Henry Burris and making him try and be a hero and win the game by himself… but hey it worked.

Offensively, you gotta like Durant’s poise. Even when we are trailing he never seems to get flustered. When we weathered that poor start and tied it up before the half you just knew momentum was swinging our way. That momentum was given a giant push in our direction by a huge return to start the second half by Armstead. If it weren’t for the fact that none of our blockers can keep up with him once he gets in the open field. That return and the ensuing Fantuz TD were the TSN turning point (though oddly enough TSN disagreed).

With the energy in the crowd and in the team you just knew we were not going to be denied.

Other random thoughts:

Our receivers are no longer just good Canadian receivers… they are just plain good receivers.
I’d be interested to see what Jyles’ conversion rate is on 3rd down. Actually on second thought, I’d be happier not knowing.
I love seeing the supremely overrated Brandon Browner take an objectionable conduct penalty
I was hoping that Dwight Anderson would take one too. He came dangerously close to picking up a penalty flag in the first quarter.
That may have been one of the worst onside kicks in a while. DeAngeles somehow managed to boot it 15 yards farther than he was supposed to (maybe he was just trying to add to his list of “records” by kicking the longest onside kick attempt in playoff history).
I love how Wes Cates remembered how to run for like 4 plays late in the game (apparently they weren’t lying when they said we were saving him)
Speaking of saving things, we were evidently also saving a strong 3rd quarter for the playoff run too.
I feel sorry for any bosses who require productivity from their workers this week.

An outstanding team performance lands the Riders as West Division Champions… well beyond what most people thought they would accomplish this season. There may be better players in the league but I don’t think there is a better
team out there. Guess we’ll see come Sunday.

We came to the conclusion last night that the Rider Prophet should be there in person to lead us to the promised land so me and the entire Rider Prophet team will be making the trip this weekend to witness the Grey Cup first hand. We still have some minor travel arrangements to work out such as tickets and accommodation (and if you can help us out on either of those please let me know).

This will be one of the longest weeks in memory, but it will be worth wait for the chance to see the Riders compete for their 2
nd Grey Cup in 3 years.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It All Comes Down To This

The wait has seemed endless at times. It’s already been 12 days since the Riders last played and there’s still 3 more sleeps to go (or 2 sleeps and 1 passed out drunk, in my case - not necessarily in that order). But the West Final is definitely worth waiting for. Besides, we already waited 33 years, what’s a few more days?

Over 4 months of football, 18 games, struggles, successes, wins, loses… all become about as meaningful as the MTV Russia Music Awards (I, like most people, assumed that communists weren’t allowed to listen to music… though I guess the likes of Sergey Lazarev can hardly be considered music). It all comes down to 60 minutes of football. The winner goes to Grey Cup. The loser will be cleaning out their lockers on Monday.

Home crowds play a very important part of this game for both teams. The Riders get to play the biggest game of the year in front of a capacity crowd at home. The Stamps are playing for a chance to play for a 2nd straight Grey Cup in front of their home crowd (to be fair though, it will essentially be a home game for the Riders should they win too).

The fact is that Calgary failed to beat us in three attempts this season but lots of people keep telling me that means the Stamps are due. Sorry but I call BS to that logic. The Riders were “due” for another Grey Cup for 18 years, the Blue Bombers are still “due” for another Grey Cup after 19 years and counting, the Maple Leafs have been “due” not to suck for so long that most people can’t even recall a time when they weren’t “due”. If you believe in being “due”, then I guess that means Megan Fox is due to return my 7,000th phone call after shutting me out on my previous 6,999 attempts and that she's also due to drop the pending lawsuit she filed against me for spying on her through her bedroom window and rummaging through her garbage because her lawyers finally buy my “its her fault for having windows and garbage cans that aren’t locked" defense. "Due" is something that people too stupid or lazy to apply actual logic come up with for lack of something useful to say.

Lots of focus is being put on Henry Burris heading into the game. We all know how dangerous he can be with his legs and his arm but quite frankly Burris is the least of my worries (what with the recession, flu pandemics and a pending lawsuit). In 3 games against us this season, Burris was quite average. Mid 200s in passing yards each game and only 3 passing TDs offset by 2 INTs and 2 fumbles overall. Even last week, when Burris was given the relatively easy task of beating the worst secondary in the CFL, he looked very mediocre. If he couldn’t light up that group of failures then I can’t see him torching our vastly superior secondary (featuring a returning Eddie Davis) with great ease. The man we need to worry about is the man we always need to worry about - the Western MOP, Joffrey Reynolds. He has run for over 100 on us every time this year. He’s a lot like the rash on Man in the Bush’s inner thigh… you can’t stop it, you can only hope to contain it. This is the way I look at it… Reynolds will probably run for 100 but the key will be keeping him out of the endzone. In our 2 victories he didn’t find the endzone. In the tie he scored 3 times. Stop Reynolds, stop the Stampeder offense.

For the Riders, it’s all about Durant. As important as the play of our defense is, it’s his play will dictate the outcome of the game. The Stamps play a very aggressive D but thus far it hasn’t fazed Durant. He’s thrown for over 250 yards/game and 7 TDs with only 1 turnover against the Stamps this year. If he can keep up that level of play and receives some defensive support, the game should be very similar to the regular season finale. His methods may seem unorthodox and at times down right scary but he has an unstoppable will to win that pays off in the end more times than not. He instills confidence in his team and the fans.

This is a battle of 2 of the most potent offenses in the league and the winner will be determined by which defense steps up more in the face of that adversity. We have a boat load of talent on defense and though they have struggled at times this year, I fully expect them to be up to the challenge.

I can barely contain my excitement/nervousness. Even just typing this, my hands start shaking and my heart starts racing. We are so close to the Grey Cup. The stakes are the highest they’ve been at Mosaic in decades. As fans we need to make sure our intensity matches the intensity we are expecting out of the players. Mosaic should be literally shaking from the player entrances to well beyond the final whistle (unless of course we are on offense, then absolute silence is a must… yes I’m talking to you morons in the back rows of the upper deck… shut up or I will punchasize your face so they have to wire it shut!!). The energy should be beyond anything we’ve seen this season. If you can speak on Monday morning you are not a true Rider fan.

Much to the detriment of my heart and physical well being, I expect an extremely close game that will not be decided until the dying minutes of the game. A late Burris INT to Lance Frazier leads to a game winning drive by Durant, capped off by a TD to the “Stampeder Killer” Chris Getzlaf.

Riders by 4

In other news…

Though I expect the Alouettes to easily handle the Lions, I secretly hope Casey Printers leads the Lions back to the Grey Cup only to have Wally bench him for the big game in favour of Buck Pierce (who goes out and loses the game). It seems the only fitting end to his Cinderella-type return story.

Lastly, the Riders announced that they have re-signed CB Donovan Alexander to a 2 years plus an option contract. This is great news for a couple reasons. First, we are locking up a very talented young Canadian who exceeded all expectations in his first year starting on the corner. Second, since we are re-signing guys like Congi, Fantuz and now Alexander it likely means we are under the cap and have extra money to spend on signing bonuses. Hazah!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Semi-Final Thoughts

Since the Riders were on I bye, I was hoping to sit back and relax and just enjoy watching some good football without any stress… unfortunately, save for a few moments, it was hardly what I would call good football.

It started out East where Casey Printers finally turned a good performance in Hamilton… unfortunately for Ti-Cat fans it came over a year too late to earn a return on the ridiculous $500K investment they made in him. Simply put the Ti-Cats D had no answer for Printers. Admittedly they did not have an easy task as it seemed someone coated Printers in Crisco before the game but still across the board the defense was no match for the Lions. On the other side of the ball, it took Kevin Glenn over half the game to figure out the Lions’ D. He made it an exciting finish when he did, forcing OT with a 2 point conversion (at that point I was hoping that Printers would throw a game losing INT in overtime again... but alas it never happened). I guess this will teach me for thinking that Bellefeuille could beat Buono… in retrospect, I of all people should have known better.

In the end, this game didn’t really matter as the East-Semi is a lot like the March Madness play-in game between the 64th and 65th seeds. Really they are just playing for the privilege of getting eviscerated by the top team in the nation and being nothing more than a footnote on the annals of history.

Then it was on to the west, which is traditionally considered the stronger division but you wouldn’t have guessed it by watching that game. I am by no means cocky about our chances this coming Sunday but the way both the Esks and Stamps were playing it had me convinced that even if the Riders showed up with a half assed effort, they would still be able to compete no problem with their opponent. The Esks offense struggled and Burris had trouble despite facing the atrocious Edmonton secondary. As per usual, Joffrey Reynolds was the quiet workhorse that made the difference. The rest was pretty boring unfortunately. I still get a kick out of the Scott Gordon blitz that Richie insists on running… it hasn’t worked since well before we traded Gordon to Hamilton in ‘06 but Richie the faithful person that he is, has stuck with it and one of these days it just might work (though I’m pretty sure for that to happen, all 5 O-linemen would have to simultaneously suffer blown knees and fall to the ground… and even then there’s a good chance Gordon would just disappear into that pile too).

So now that that disappointing display is out of the way we can move on to what really matters… a Sunday showdown with the arch-rival Stamps with a spot in the Grey Cup on the line. The excitement and the tension are starting to grow and by the weekend will be at a fever pitch.

6 more sleeps until the biggest home game in 33 years!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Carefree Mockery

It’s been a long time since Rider fans haven’t had to care about the outcome of the division semi-finals… and you have to go back even farther to find a time when are reason for not caring didn’t involve an embarrassing season that was mercifully already over. That’s definitely not the case this time around. The Riders are on a bye week after finishing in 1st for the first time since the Fonz ruled the airwaves. Eeey!

With the Riders off this week awaiting the winner of the Stamps and Esks (and me really not caring about who wins this weekend), I get to devote more space then usual to mocking other teams. So let’s get right to it…

We’ll start in the east where the Ti-Cats host the Lions. The Lions and their winningest coach have gone from perennial lock to win the West to being relegated to squeaking into the playoffs via crossover. Meanwhile, the Ti-Cats have gone from perennial punch line to half decent team, which in the atrocious East, is good enough to coast to second place… unless of course you’re stupid enough to repeatedly start Quinton Porter. But seriously who would be that dumb? … Oh wait… awkward.

The way things are going for the Lions, they may have to spend this week’s practices implementing an all-wildcat offense… they certainly can’t count on anyone being able to actually throw the ball. Apparently Printers will start (despite his injured thumb), backed up by Lulay (despite his injured should), backed up by Champion (who must really suck to be healthy and still only the 3rd option behind an injured thumb and bad shoulder). I really think the Lions are covering up the severity of the injury to Printers thumb. Their whole QB situation reminds me a lot of this. I expect bad throws and repeated fumbles (much like when Printers was a Ti-cat). In a cruel twist of fate, the man who is famous for finding an endless supply of future all-star QBs will be done in by a QB stable that is either too injured or too stupid (and in some cases both) to salvage his season.

I never thought I’d see the day where in a battle between Buono and Bellefeuille, I would be favouring Bellefeuille and mocking Buono… it’s like I’ve stumbled into some sort of Bizarro world. What’s next? A “Bring Back James Johnson” post on my blog? (*Rest assured that the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Lions will win championships in the same year well before I consider writing such a post).

We then move onto the battle of Alberta, where the Esks take on the Stamps for the right to lose to the Riders next week. Henry Burris will no doubt be near tears over being passed over for both team MOP and Western All-Star nominations and we all know that when Burris doesn’t feel he’s getting enough respect, he goes out and tries to make himself look like a hero, which leads to the ball ending up in Reynolds’ hands very little and the defender’s hands quite a bit. It also leads to embarrassing displays such as this.

As for the Esks, I haven’t been sold on them from day 1. I just don’t think they are that good and their .500 record is very flattering. If their final 3 games of the season hadn’t been the Argos twice and the QB-less Lions, they would probably have missed the playoffs. Their pass coverage is as useful as Jesse Lumsden’s shoulder and that’s a concern when facing Burris. Not to mention that if you take away Fred Stamps, the Esks have a pretty sad looking set of receivers. Arkee Whitlock is a very lucky man. Any other coach would have cut him on the spot after his atrocious debut but Richie Hall (being the good guy that he is) stuck with him and is reaping the benefits of his decision. The Esks now have a credible running attack for the first time in the Maciocia era.

I picture this game being an offensive shootout with less defense than most All-Star games. Ray gives the Esks a legit shot at winning any game but I’m going to stick with my belief that the Esks just aren’t that good of a team and say I expect to see the Stamps back here next week.

And of course no mockery of other teams would be complete without talking about the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Their season may be over but the hilarious news just keeps flowing. Mike Kelly got an early start on pissing away next season by announcing that he wants to bring Michael Bishop to training camp next season. Look, we all know that I highly favour the move because Bishop is pretty much a lock to do something hilariously stupid on a weekly basis and making fun of those occurrences is way easier than putting effort into writing something else that is funny… but come on Mike Kelly, this is dumb even for you. If the season filled with interceptions that were only outnumbered by incompletion or completing only 8 passes when the season was on the line weren’t a red flag that maybe you should look elsewhere if your future plans involve winning… maybe the time he knocked himself unconscious on his own blocker should have been!!

The only thing that would make this situation funnier is if Kelly signs Bishop to an extension then turns around and announces the signing of Kerry Joseph the same day.

Enjoy a stress free weekend because next week is going to be off the charts as we head into the West Final in Saskatchewan.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday Morning Sentimonies: We’re #1!

Riders 30 – Stampeders 14

In honour of finishing first in the west for the first time in 33 years, I decided to celebrate by also doing something that hasn’t happened in a really long time… posting Monday Morning Sentimonies on a Monday in the morning (lately it seems I settle for one or the other). I blame the chronic procrastination and laziness I’ve developed. Fortunately, in this day and age of non-discrimination and human rights, you’re not allowed to discriminate against me based on a medical condition.

It still doesn’t seem quite real. I mean I was there, I saw us win but the idea that we actually managed to win first hasn’t fully sunk in yet. Up until now the idea that we’d ever live to see the Riders finish first again was about as ridiculous as the idea that Michael Bishop was a good QB (more on that later).

Saturday’s game was the biggest regular season game in years and fortunately the Riders realized the importance of the game and came to play accordingly. Durant was the poised leader we needed him to be. He made good decisions and controlled the ball. Not surprisingly that led to a good offensive output. His main target was Andy Fantuuuuz who was a first down machine. Getzlaf continued his legacy of being a Stampeder killer. The run game was even half decent… I didn’t say great but at least it was good for something beyond the 1 yard run up the middle we’ve grown accustomed to.

I was most impressed with the defense. They stepped up against a very potent Calgary offense and limited them to only 1 TD. Yeah Reynolds seemed to run all over us but that will happen against the best RB in the league. We kept him out of the endzone though (which we couldn’t do last time we played the Stamps). Most importantly, they flustered Henry Burris which predictably led to a Stampeder offense that was about as potent as the average senior’s home resident. We didn’t force a lot of turnovers but still kept the Stamps in check. On that note: when did we amend the “illegal contact” rule to mean it is illegal for a defender to contact a ball thrown by Henry Burris and intercept it? Seriously that 2nd INT should have counted.

Another Rider performance that I think deserves mention is Jason Clermont. While he was, as usual, relatively absent from the stat sheet he did get involved in other ways. One was tossing around Burke Dales as he tried to get involved in a punt coverage (and beaking him just for good measure) and the other was inconspicuously joining the Stampeder huddle at the end of the game to figure out what kind of kick they were going to run. Not what you’d normally expect from a receiver but useful nonetheless.

The game had its stressful moments but the fact that we never trailed at any point during the game made things a lot easier on my heart than I expected. Probably a good thing though that it got a light week because I’m going to need everyone ounce of strength left in the old ticker to survive our first West Final on home turf since I’ve been alive.

Rest up Saskatchewan, in 2 weeks time the Riders take to the field, only one win away from a trip to the Grey Cup. Man that sounds good to say!

Around the CFL…
Winnipeg learned the hard way what happens when you hinge your season on the success of Michael Bishop. With the season on the line, Bishop managed to complete only 8 passes to his own players and 2 more to Hamilton players as the Bombers had their season ended by losing big to the Ti-Cats. Granted he didn’t get much help from Adarius Bowman (who played like he way high as a kite… and probably was) but still Bishop sucks. He can now add Winnipeg to the list of football teams whose season’s he has ruined. For the record, when the Bombers saw Bishop put his jersey on backwards while dressing for the game, they should have realized they were screwed.

As a fan of the game, I hope that GMs across the league can finally agree that Bishop is terrible and should never be called again. However as a fan of mocking Bishop, I hope there’s one stupid/desperate GM left out there who will give him one more shot.

Speaking of desperation and QBs… how about those Lions?!? Already having Jarious and Lulay out with shoulder injuries, they had to endure Printers injuring his thumb in the first quarter and Buck Pierce hurting his shoulder (again/still/this is just getting ridiculous) before halftime. That led to Zac Champion (though in name only) getting thrust into action and losing miserably. I love the irony in Wally Buono who has always had a long line of future all-star QBs, now being barely able to find one solitary QB healthy enough to finish the season. Someone should check his cholesterol levels.