Ever since Sunday’s disappointing Grey Cup loss, Rider fans have been clamouring to know who the now infamous 13th 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 4th 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 1st 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?