Thursday, February 5, 2009

Back to the Football

With all the controversy and craziness of the past 2 days, people’s focus has definitely not been on football matters. This has led to a number of news stories flying below the radar. One such example is a story that, if it were not for Tuesday’s events, would surely have been the lead sporting story across Canada. In a shocking and tragic turn of events… brace yourselves… the receiving force that is Pat Woodcock … are you sitting down? … has been released by the Hamilton Ti-Cats. (Pause for dramatic effect). His legions of fans are still struggling to come to terms with this news.

As you can hopefully tell from the preceding paragraph it’s time to get back to what this blog is all about: covering all notable CFL news… and mocking it relentlessly. So let’s get you caught up on what’s been going on across the league....

Yesterday Dave Dickenson announced his retirement after 10 seasons (and almost as many concussions). Over those years Dickenson was consistently one of the top QBs in the league. His skill level was such that he may have gone on to be considered one for the greatest of all time (multiple Grey Cups/individual awards/records)… if it weren’t for the fact that he was blessed with one of the least durable noggins in league history. Dickenson never completed a full 18 game season, generally due to fact that he couldn’t convince the schedule makers to have the Lions schedule not include a meeting with the Riders. The press conference almost took a turn for the worse when a reporter in the front row sneezed and there were fears that Dickenson may suffer another concussion as a result. Dickenson was lucky this time but admits he’ll have to be more careful in the future if he hopes to enjoy his retirement.

Onto Toronto, where, you guessed it, they hired more NFL Europe coaches. The Argos hired Mike Jones as their receivers coach and Ed O’Neil as their linebackers coach (both are former Frankfurt Galaxy coaches), the only redeeming thing here is that O’Neil actually spent a year as a defensive coordinator in the CFL… though it was with Hamilton so I’m not sure you can count that. In reading up on the hiring of Jones I came across this quote which cracked me up: “As a head coach, Jones was practically unbeatable. In his first season, the Galaxy dashed to a 7-3 record and a World Bowl appearance.” I was unaware that we had changed the meaning of “practically unbeatable” to include teams that lose multiple times including in the championship game. That’s like saying I’ve been practically unwavering in my faithfulness to my girlfriend… you know if you ignore all those affairs and prostitutes I had along the way (and if she happens to be reading this, I’m joking… there were no affairs).

CFL Ins and Outs

In: Jeremy O’Day (re-signed), RB Justin Beaver, WR Todd Blythe (free agent signings)
Well the good news is that 2 months ago the only starting O-lineman we had under contract was Wayne Smith. So with Belton Johnson and now O’Day back in the fold we actually have some semblance of a line. Beaver and Blythe seem like 2 interesting prospects… though I am already dreading all the bad puns the newspapers will come up with during training camp when covering Beaver. Personally I feel Beaver should never be covered.

In: Fred Stamps (signed a 2 year extension)
Out: Agustin Barrenechea (released)
I was somewhat surprised that Barrenechea was cut given that he led the Eskimos in tackles last season. Though I guess to be fair, being one of the top players on a really bad defense doesn’t do much to improve your job security.

In: Odell Willis (free agent signing)
Out: Charleston Hughes (signed with the Philadelphia Eagles)

Willis comes from the AF2 Green Bay Blizzard, who already lost fellow DE Joe Sykes to the Riders… how will they ever defeat their archrival Iowa Barnstormers now?? (10 bonus points if you can tell me what the Roughriders connection to the Barnstormers is… and yes I really like saying Barnstormers and will make every attempt to incorporate it in my posts).

As for Hughes, it seems the Rider Prophet Award for Best Player Name is somewhat of a curse. Last year Chijioke Onyenegecha won the award and didn’t return to the CFL for 2008. This year, Charleston Chews wins and will not be returning to the CFL for 2009. In light of this revelation early candidates for next year’s award include Henry Burris, James Johnson, Ricky Ray, JoJuan Armour, Brandon Browner, and Rob Murphy… or possibly a 6 way tie.

In: Jarious Jackson (contract extension)
I’m so shocked that Jackson wasn’t able to garner any NFL interest this offseason. BC fans were split fairly evenly between those who feared he would catch on down south and those who feared that he would actually return to the Lions.

In: Agustin Barrenechea, Willie Quinnie, Johnnie Morant (free agent signing)
Out: LB Cornelius Anthony, LB Michael Botterill, DE Sacha Lancaster, DE Terrence Patrick, LB Rocky Schwartz, WR Pat Woodcock, WR Tony Miles, OL Charles Thomas (cut)

As if the Pat Woodcock news isn’t shocking enough… Charles Thomas has also been released, oh the humanity. Actually, the rumours are that Rob Murphy will sign with Hamilton once free agency opens and I guess when you have a choice between a 2-time Lineman of the Year and a “turnstile” the decision is easier than a choice between Jessica Alba and Rita McNeil.

In: Jerome Haywood (free agent signing); Mike Imoh (re-signed)
10 bonus points to the first person to some up with something interesting to say about these signings.

In: Fred Reid, Obby Khan (re-signed), LB Roderick Johnson, LB Bryan Wilson (free agent signing)
Out: Matt Sheridan (released)

The re-signing of Reid reminded me of how he was named an all-star despite not starting until the midpoint of the season - yet further proof of just how bad the level of play is in the East division.

In: WR Derrick Hamilton (free agent signing)
Out: Dominique Dorsey (signed with Washington Redskins), Cliff Washburn (signed with Houston Texans)

This has been a tough offseason for Argo fans (all 37 of them). They have now lost 4 of there most talented players to the NFL (having previously lost PK Sam to Buffalo and Byron Parker to Philly). Many fans are questioning whether they will see fan favourites such as Dorsey back in double blue ever again. Well don’t worry Argo fans, if history is any indication, you can expect to see all 4 players back in Toronto… that is of course after they’ve become washed-up NFL players no one else would touch with a ten foot pole… it’s an Argo tradition.


Luke said...


Ridiculous, but interesting.

Rider Prophet said...

Wow! You are correct on both accounts.

I guess it says something about how far the CFL has come when they are seen as a viable alternative to college (though I'm not sure if there would be any other alternatives). But still...

There's no way a team could afford to pay ANY player $5 mill over 3 year's. The top players right now only make $400K per season (and they are all QBs). No way anyone would/could pony up over a million a season in the salary cap era. Ottawa was considered complete morons for considering offering Jesse Palmer $600k per season (and that was before the cap... and never materialized).

I guarantee though if any team has been in contact it will have been the Argos.

Anonymous said...

The Saskatchewan connection to the Iowa Barnstormers is that is where John Gregory went after his Grey Cup winning tenure in Saskatchewan. Mind you, I thought the Barnstormers had moved and became the New York Dragons. I can't say I know about any revival of the team in AFL2, but I would consider a lack of AFL2 knowledge to be a plus in terms of overall sports knowledge. Not having much info on it leaves brain space for more important things, such as lawn dart statistics.

Rider Prophet said...

10 bonus points for Brent S.

And for the record lawn dart statistics do indeed supercede AF2 in the hierarchy of knowledge.

Anonymous said...

John Gregory went to Hamilton after he was fired and to the Barnstormers after that.