Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Official 2010 Prophecies

Twas just before kickoff and all through the city
People awaited predictions particularly witty.
The coaches were making final preparations
In hopes of fulfilling fans’ high expectations.
The goal was clear, success that is perennial
And hoist the ultimate prize to cap off our centennial.
But who comes this way with predictions anew?
'Tis your friendly neighbourhood Prophet, that’s who.

Back in November we were on the cusp of great glory
But fate had in mind a different end to our story.
Since then there's been changes: Eddie Davis retired,
The Bombers were searching and Lapo was hired.
Chick, Baggs and Rey made the NFL jump
And we lost our GM to an untimely dry hump.
But despite all the problems, there’s no reason to fear
2010 has all the makings of another great year.

Our offense will be powerful under Miller and Berry
Our passing attack will be downright scary.
Fantuz, Dressler and Bagg, that’s tough to defend
Oh and don’t forget Getzlaf and Prechae my friend
As for how well I think we will run the ball,
If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all
Cates will block well and catch the odd pass
But the 1000 yd mark he will not surpass
Through the air is where our games will be won
Durant’s reign as an all-star is far from done
Andy will stay healthy and many TDs record
On his way to a deserved Top Canadian award.

On defense there is worry that pressure we will lack
With no Baggs or Chick how will we get a sack?
While our sack totals will likely not match last year’s pace
Mullinder and Hawkins will still get in the QB’s face
Etch will get pressure no matter what he has to do
With schemes that might make you think he’s been sniffing glue
A veteran LB in the middle should help stop the run
With Tad and Sean flying around, to watch will be fun
Our secondary will remain strong despite losing Eddie
Omarr and Lance will keep this unit steady
And watch for Patrick this year to breakout
Best safety in the West, without a doubt.

We will start the season strong, like men on a mission
Getting an early leg up on the competition
We will be well on our way in our Grey Cup pursuit
And fans will start planning the parade route
But it won’t last forever and we will start to struggle
I wish something rhymed here better than juggle
Come Labour Day we will be in a tight race for first
With a couple key injuries that need to be nursed.
For the Bombers, Stephen Jyles into action will be thrust
Because Buck Pierce will have already been concussed.
Jyles will struggle, shocking as that may seem
In the 2 game series we will reign supreme
Other than a couple bumps we will play great down the stretch
Our D will be firing on all cylinders under the guidance of Etch
Our late season momentum we will maintain
A 12-6 record, first place yet again!!

West Final at Mosaic for the second year in a row
Against Richie Hall and the Esks in the prairie snow
We will fall behind early and things will look bleak
But pull even late on a QB sneak
Then just as time seems to be running out
Fantuz will win the game on a nice corner route.
Then a convoy of green will be headed west
For a 2nd chance to prove that we are the best
This time around there will be no mistake
In a sip from Lord Grey’s mug will the Riders partake.
Grey Cup Champs in 2010
There will be much rejoicing across the prairies again

So you’ll hear me exclaim as I dash into the night
Go Riders Go, Let’s hope I’m more than 67% right.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Bring Em’ Out!

We are but 4 days away from the opening of the 2010 CFL season. Anticipation and excitement have reached a fever pitch here on the prairies. It has been a long time since expectations were this high in Saskatchewan… well at least realistic expectations, not just ridiculous ramblings of idiots who were delusional enough to believe that the likes of Michael Bishop and Nealon Greene were talented enough to accomplish anything of value. But I digress.

The Riders enter 2010 is the rare position as a team to beat. As opposed to the past when we were just a team that was going to get beat. With a few minor exceptions the Riders will be fielding essentially the same team that came within a math error (carry the 1 stupid!) of winning it all. The good news is that we managed to outsource the coach responsible for the devastating math error to a city where his math skills will be on par or better than 95% of the population. . Offensively we get a return engagement by the Canadian Air Force (Fantuz, Bagg, Getzlaf and Clermont) who will be rejoined by a healthy Weston Dressler. We also get a return engagement by an all-star QB, which is a rarity in this province. Generally we either get the choice of a return engagement by a bad QB or having to replace a departed good QB. Our O-line also gives us reason for excitement as we will be fielding an all-star in Goodspeed and a more experience Joel Bell at the tackles as opposed to being reduced to settling for out 4th and 5th options at tackle as we were last year. The only downside to our offense will be our run game which is likely to continue running in a style that can be likened to that of a gay pride parade participant (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Oh well, we overcame that weakness last year and I assume we will be able to again.

Defensively with the exception of a big question mark at DE I think we are looking pretty good. A veteran LB crew, a secondary that is a good combination of veteran savvy and youthful athleticism and 2 interior linemen that were pretty darn good last year. Though I don’t think we will see the Baggs/Chick-type sack numbers, I do think our D-line overall is good enough to get the pressure we need from them. Working in our favour is Etcheverry’s borderline insane schemes are built around finding innovative ways to pressure the QB… even if it means lining the kicker up a DT and dropping Chunk back to play the wide-side corner.

Toss in a former a Special Teams Player of the Year on kick returns and you have making of a formidable foe this season.

The will be no time to sit and adore how good we look on paper though as our first game is against another formidable foe in the form of les Alouettes who are every bit as talented as we are. Like us they are a very talented team that has suffered a couple key loses. For the Als its Bryan Chui and Kerron Williams who were among the best in the league at their respective positions. Expect a hard fought battle between the 2 top teams in the CFL… what a perfect way to kick off another exciting CFL season.

I’m as excited for the season to open as a Man In The Bush is for the Justin Bieber concert. I’ll see you see at a sold out Mosaic Stadium on Canada Day. Let’s remind the country who the league’s best fans are.

Riders by 7.

You’ve probably noticed that I have yet to do my Official Prophecies yet. Fear not, I haven’t forgotten about them… it’s just that much like Monday Morning Sentimonies they will be fashionably late. Check back Wednesday for the CFL’s first and only poetically themed preview.

One last note today…

I would like to give a plug to the town of Avonlea. They are vying for the distinction of being selected as Riderville. The town is going all out too. Stores and houses are plastered in green and white, they painted a regulation size football field on Main St. and I think they even renamed a few streets to football related names such as 2 point Conversion Ave and Off Season Knee Surgery Blvd. They have a website that shows all the ways the town is showing their Rider Pride. You should check it out:

So cheers to you Avonlea, you have my vote… at least until another town comes along with a more lucrative offer for my endorsement.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Check It Out

After lengthy negotiations, contract disputes, a brief one man strike and a few tears, Im proud to say that my Prophets Picks column on is now up. Check it out

And if you havent already done so, sign up for a CFL Fantasy League. They are offering a free trial right now so you cant go wrong.

Friday Roundup: I Thought I Cut You!

Yesterday the Riders made their final cuts and roster moves to get down to the 46 man roster. Well actually they got down to a 47 man roster for some odd reason. I guess we still haven’t learned how to count… too soon? I’m going to assume that the 47th man can be explained by the fact that Dan “Nitro” Clark is still on the roster and I assume he will be relegated to the practice roster as a junior player at some point.

Many cuts were required to get down to the 47 man roster we currently have. While we weren’t able to cut everyone we wanted to, we did cut a lot of people. Here’s how I classify the cuts:

Not Surprising/Painfully Obvious: Taylor Wallace, Aaron Waldie, Brandon Foster, Ryan Elaschuk, Jeremy Gilchrist, Steven Riddick, Brandon Register, Josh Miller, Patrick Neufeld (though we are just sending him back to college, he’ll be back next year) and Aaron Fairooz (though apparently he is still in town, which gets a huge thumbs down from me the guy is a band aid and those rare times he manages to take the field he plays like a wussy)

Lack Of Effort: Willie Evans

Talented But Too Inconsistent: Joe Sykes, Dwayne Eley, Marcus Thigpen

We Liked Your Hustle That’s Why it Was So Hard to Cut You: Joel Lipinski, Mike Stadnyk, Jordan Rempel, Carlo Thomas

Headed For The Practice Roster: Willie Byrd, Cary Koch, Ike Squared, Chirstian Houle, Ladarius Key, Ryan Lucas

We also added Kelly Bates to the 9-game (he must a debilitating paper cut or bout of gas or something) and put Obed Cetoute and Kye Stewart on the 1 game IR. For Stewart I see that as a positive, I thought for sure he’d be 9-gamed so this must mean his he close to being able to get back on the field. As for Cetoute, I just shake my head in disgust. Seems the Riders have an unexplained infatuation with injured Canadian receivers. We put up with years of Hoffart occupying our IR but jettisoned him in ’07 in favour of a promising young David McKoy. McKoy did indeed replace Hoffart… as a permanent fixture on the IR. Then just as McKoy finally gets healthy enough to string together a few games we axe him and make a trade for Cetoute… who low and behold is injured!! At the rate we are going I can foresee us parting ways with Cetoute when Sisco arrives only to discover that Sisco has suddenly developed a debilitating lower body injury that will take at least 2 years to fully heal.

In the end the Riders’ starter are very similar to last year’s team (which is a very good thing) with the following exceptions

- Rodriguez replaces Gerran Walker as import wide-out

- Goodspeed and Bell will man the tackles with Wayne Smith likely being our 6th OL

- Mullinder and Hawkins replace Captain Diabetes and the Pigeon-Toed wonder at DE with Shomari and Kitwana rotating in.

- Chris McKenzie takes over for Eddie Davis

- Dorsey will takeover for Arsmtead on kick return.

Overall it is a pretty impressive roster. Sure there is some uncertainty around our DEs but I’ll wait to see how we do when we unleash the full Etch playbook before getting too concerned. There is no reason to think that we won’t once again be fighting for 1st place in the West... provided Ryan “The Untimely Interception Machine” Dinwiddie isn’t forced into action.

Other notable happening around the CFL on cut down day….

- Montreal placed back up QB Adrian McPhearson on the 9-game and 3rd stringer Chris Leak is suffering from back spasms. That puts them in a very precarious positions should old man Calvillo go down.

- Edmonton cut Jamaica Rector (one of my favourite names), relegated former #1 pick Adam Braidwood on the Practice Roster and placed returner Tristan Jackson on the 9-game. Word is also that Dario Romero and Mo Lloyd are hurt which will hurt their D immensely if those guys aren’t ready to go day 1.

- Hamilton placed Jason Jimenez on the 9-game and cut Zac Carlson. They gave up their 1st round pick this year to get Carlson in last year’s draft and are now left with nothing to show. I guess it could be worse though… they could be stuck with a perennially injured receiver instead.

Lastly, there is something seriously weird going on in Calgary… I mean beyond the normal homo-erotic bobsled weird. This past week 2 more Stampeders announced their retirements (Sam Allen and Matt Sheridan). On its own that wouldn’t that weird. Sheridan showed up to camp as a fat, out of shape tub and it’s not uncommon for young guys like Allen to walk away from football and pursue other opportunities.

But these were the 9th and 10th retirements respectively in Calgary in the past couple months. Allen and Sheridan join John Comiskey, Jesse Newman, Brett Ralph, Marcus Howell, Jeff Pilon, Jim Davis, Osie Ukwuoma and Barrick Neally in retirement. And other than Pilon, Davis and Howell it’s not like these retirements were expected. The rest were fairly young guys (in cases like Newman and Ralph, talented starters) who abruptly and unexpectedly called it quits. Now you could just call this a big coincidence but the fact that there were only 12 retirements in all the other 7 teams combined should raise some eyebrows. People seem to be running out of cowtown in droves so there must be some reason. Maybe it’s the smell of manure that emanates from the stadium from time to time. Or maybe… just maybe there’s something going on in the locker room that people do not like. My personal theory is that now that Burris’ boyfriend Copeland is gone, Hank is on the prowl for a new boyfriend and some of his advances are apparently not being well received by people.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Morning Sentimonies: On Second Though

Riders 17 – Calgary 41

Okay I take back what I said about wishing I could see Sunday’s game. It was probably for the best that the majority of Rider fans were not subjected to watching an ugly preseason performance. I’m talking like offspring of Quasimodo and Rosie O’Donnell ugly (though I’m not sure which one would be the man in that relationship).

I know it’s only preseason and we aren’t using our full playbook but I was still hoping for a better showing by the green and white in their final tune up before the 2010 season. Instead we were treated to some mediocre at best offense, some incredibly soft defense, a ridiculous amount of penalties and so much general ineptitude I thought for a while that I might have mistakenly tuned in to an Argo game.

In a game like that its tough to find positives but I will do my best.

- Durant had a good half and probably would have had a better second half if he’d got the chance.

- Sakoda seems to have remembered how to punt.

- Daniel Francis is playing outstanding. Cary Koch sounded like he had a good game too.

- I was able to distract myself from the game with images of bears on unicycles and ostriches

I was also able to take a small amount of pleasure in the absolute implosion of Ryan “My eyes are not from this planet” Dinwiddie. Don’t get me wrong I don’t want the Riders’ backup QB to suck but Dinwiddie’s opening pick followed by a mere 3 completions does help vindicate my hatred of him. Honestly after watching him in practice and in the first preseason game i was starting to get worried that I might have to eat some crow. Turns out, that’s not likely to happen for a while. I guess Dinwiddie will just have to settle for holding a clipboard and stealing souls by the light of the moon. One question though... does Dinwiddie know that there are other receivers on our team other than Clermont?... like 95% of his passes go #82’s way.

I won’t get too much into the negatives (though there were many). Its preseason, we weren’t using our full playbooks, we lost both preseason games last year and that turned out not bad. Obviously the team needs to work on tightening up on defense, playing disciplined football and getting better coverage and blocking on special teams. Yesterday’s performance is somewhat concerning but I’m not too worried about it. I’m sure our coaches and players will be ready to go come Canada Day.

The coaches have until Thursday to do the easiest part of any coach’s job... the cuts. The Riders have to be down to their 46 man roster, practice roster and injury list by then. I’m sure as always, most of the cuts will be forgone conclusions (cough Willie Byrd cough) and a few of them will be surprising (cough Willie Evans cough). I guess we will see what tomorrow brings.

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Least Favourite Game Of The Year

Sunday marks the 2nd and final preseason game for the Riders. It also marks the least favourite game of the year for many Rider fans. It’s not our least favourite because its relative significance/importance ranks somewhere below Grade 8 graduation. We’re Rider fans, every minute detail about the team is important whether it be a preseason game or the brand of soap that a particular player is using. No, our dislike of the game stems from the fact that it is the only road game that is not shown on TV. We have to settle for listening over the radio.

The problem with the radio is that you can’t actually see what’s going and have to rely on someone else describing what is happening. My main problem is that I’m not a great visualizer and my mind tends to wander. So when I reality a QB may be rolling to his right getting pressured and dumping the ball off to his RB… in my mind the QB may be rolling but he is being pursued by a bear on a unicycle and ends up dumping off to his RB (who just happens to be riding on an ostrich). In my mind the stands are also filled with a lot more topless attractive women than their probably are in reality. Kinda like Spartacus if any of you have ever watched that show.

Anywho, you probably didn’t come here to hear about my weird day dreams (and if you did that’s downright creepy)... onto the game. Sunday will be last chance for the players to impress the coaches. For some that could mean the difference between starting and riding the pine. For others it could mean the difference between coming back to Regina and taking a plane ride home.

Offense is pretty much set unless Wayne Smith can steal his starters spot back from Joel Bell. Only thing left to determine is which rookie WR can earn himself a back-up spot.

Defense has a bit more uncertainty. Secondary and LBs are set. D-Line is anything but. We like to field a 6 man rotation and of those 6 spots, 2 are set in stone (Chunky and Shologan), 2 are pretty certain (Mullinder and Shomari) and 2 are wide open. Despite not logging any game time yet, Hawkins is a favourite for one of those spots. Guess we will see if the hype is deserved (or we’ll at least hear about it and visualize a bear on a unicycle). That leaves Kitwana, Evans, Ike Squared, Riddick (who is apparently hurt), Stadnyk and Josh Miller (who is a long shot at best) competing for the last spot. The stakes are higher than an old person's belt line.

It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out come Sunday.In other Rider news...
- One person who won’t be making the trip to Calgary is Kent Smith... who in a shocking turn of events was released early this week. There are very few details being given about his release but I have a feeling that it had something to do with the fact if Smith manages to make the connections on his flight home he will have surpassed the number of connections he made on the football field.

- In perhaps the best news of the young season, the Riders announced that Weston Dressler has agreed to a contract extension. This is great news! A guy as talented as him doesn’t come along very often. From a human resource perspective he also helps the Riders meet their employment equity targets since it technically counts as employing a midget... or as I believe they prefer to be called, vertically retarded.

- The Riders have retro red and black jerseys to commemorate the team’s history. Reaction was decidedly mixed on the jerseys which will be worn for one game in July. Personally I think they aren’t that bad and are a good way to commemorate the team’s roots. I still maintain that if they really wanted to do things right, the players should be wearing leather helmets when they sport the retro jerseys. Evidently the team (and most medical professionals) disagree.

- It was also announced that the Canadian Mint will be producing a special Rider loonie to honour the centennial. Of course, I told you my faithful readers about this special loonie back in April. Proving yet again that I am miles ahead of the rest of the football world... and when Tim Cronk is named Most Outstanding Canadian 3 years from now, I will yet again be vindicated.

One final note, does anyone else think that Prechae Rodriguez looks like a terrorist?

Seriously, if he came out of the shower with his head wrapped in a towel you might as well call him Osama Bin Rodriquez.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Back At It

Was it ever great to return to the hallowed football grounds that is Mosaic Stadium. A warm summer’s afternoon. The excitement of a hometown crowd. Reuniting with the people in your section. Getting overcharged for alcohol. Yes, it’s good to back. Of course the day would have been better if we had actually won the game but you take the good with the bad.

I know it’s only a preseason game where the results are about as meaningful as … and a good chunk of the players I watched will never again appear in green and white but still, its football and I love it.

Here are some random observations from the game.

- Our passing is going to be outstanding this year. Dressler looks to be back in form; Bagg is looking real good again; Fantuz is, well he’s Fantuz. Durant is in for a big season.

- Running does not seem to be in our plans this year. The only touches I see the RB getting will be screens. But as long as those screens go for more than 1 yard it will be an improvement over last year.

- Joel Bell had a rough day for someone who is supposed to be competing for a starters spot. He had a holding call that negated a long TD and also completely let up and let a defender hit Durant. Personally I blame his hair. He is suffering from the Samson effect… he cut his hair, which evidently was the source of his power. The same fate befell a previous budding young tackle by the name of Glen January who cut his hair and quickly found his way to bench and eventually out of town. Bell better get himself some Rogaine and fast.

- How devastating was the block that Getzlaf dished out on the Bagg TD? Despite scoring a TD, Bagg and the rest of his team-mates were more concerned with congratulating Getzlaf.

- Even though I have a much publicized disliking of him, I have to admit that Ryan “The Creepy Eyed Wonder” Dinwiddie looked really sharp out there. He was making good reads, finding receivers, moving the chains and putting up points. He pretty much solidified himself as our back-up.

- The good news for Jason Clermont is that that Ryan Dinwiddie seems to know he exists. The bad news is that Dinwiddie is unlikely to play in any actual games so this awareness of his existence won’t likely be of much benefit to Clermont.

- Just as I was begrudgingly starting to come around on Dinwiddie, he locked onto Jason Clermont right out of the huddle (it was so oblivious even to the folks in the upper deck) and Tad Crawford (who was evidently smart enough to figure out the budding bro-mance Dinwiddie was having with Clermont) read him like a book for an easy pick. Hmm locking onto a receiver… where have I seen that before? The only good news was that this pick didn’t lead to glory and fame for James Johnson.

- Not sure what happened to Cole Bergquist but that Bergqist guy we played in his place looked pretty good. He wasn’t as polished as Dinwiddie but for his first real game experience I thought he did really well. The thing I really noticed about him was how fast his passes travel. He just fires them in there.

- While the first 3 QBs all showed pretty well, the 4th… not so much. The Kent Smith experiment will hopefully be a short lived one because his performance in the 4th quarter was painful to watch. He made 2 passes on his 12 attempts (though it should have been 3 because the receiver had a bad drop). The other attempts were not even close. The coaches kept giving him chance after chance and he kept making Juan Joseph not seem like such a bad idea by comparison.

- Somewhere Todd Reesing is going “Cripes, I could do better than that!”

- I know there was a missed blocking assignment on the blocked punt but Sakoda might as well have called his mother and made some pancakes for all the time he took to get that punt off. I don’t know if he was nicked up or just not trying but he sure didn’t look like the King Louie I remember from last year.

- I still love our coaches’ commitment at trying to make Congi a punter and kickoff guy. 4 years of effort and it hasn’t worked out yet but the coaches give it a shot every year without fail. Though for some reason Congi always seems to unload a few nice looking punts in games that don’t count.

- Other players that impressed me: Byron Bullock, Shomari Williams, Daniel Francis, Stu Foord (nice catch) and Luc Mullinder

- Players that increased their odds of being cut: Aaron Fairooz and Kent Smith.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Rider Prophet Guide To Not Looking Like An Idiot At Home Games

The Riders' success over the past 3 years has led to new fans flocking to Mosaic Stadium in droves. While it is great to see the fan base growing as well as team revenues, this has also led to an unfortunate side effect… an increase in the number of idiots in the stands on game day. Although Rider fans are generally considered to be very educated, this new influx of fans has led to a large number of people who are so incredibly clueless when it comes to football that I can only assume the only reason they are at the game is because they saw a long line and decided to stand in it.

To be fair I don’t think people do it maliciously, they just don’t know any better. So, being the ever-helpful guy that I am, I decided to come up with a 3 step guide for new fans to follow in order to not look like an idiot on game day.

Step 1: Dress The Part

Typically one shows their support for the team by wearing team colours to the game… in this case green and/or white. It is preferred that you wear a team jersey or other official team clothing. However, understanding that not everyone can afford these things, any piece of clothing that is green and/or white is acceptable (seriously most hobos can find a white t-shirt, you should be able to as well… or at least steal the hobo’s). For example: a New York Jets jersey may not be official team gear but it is green and white so it is indeed acceptable (though why the hell you have a Jets jersey is a completely different issue altogether).

While in some cases NFL jerseys are okay, they are not universally acceptable. For example, the guy who wears the Miami Dolphins jersey to games is an idiot. The colours are wrong and Ronnie Brown’s connection to Roughriders is on par with that of Abe Lincoln and Michael Jordan. So you might as well just wear a top hat and Bulls jersey because that makes about as much sense. The guy I saw wearing a Wes Welker Patriots jersey is a bigger idiot… at least the Dolphins jersey is some variation of green.

Other non-acceptable clothing includes any non green or white shirts, clothing from sports other than football (nobody cares if you are a Flames fan) and pink Rider jerseys… the team colours are green and white, not pink!

For those of you that are curious (aka Man In The Bush), nipple tassels are acceptable provided they are green or white.

To Summarize: Green and white – Good… Other colours – bad… Wes Welker jersey - so devoid of logic I can’t fathom how the person wearing it managed to get his head and arms in the correct holes without adult assistance.

Step 2: Manage Your Time

You should strive to get to the stadium early enough so that you are in your seat for the player entrances and national anthem. The kickoff time is printed on all tickets and published months in advance so there is no excuse for being late.

Though you are free to visit the concessions and rest rooms throughout the game, you can’t simply wander freely through the stands whenever you feel like it. Specifically when a play is in progress on the football field, don’t move. The average play in football takes 5-10 seconds so I’m sure that waiting until the next break in play won’t be a huge problem… and if for some reason it is, I recommend the use of adult diapers.

Lastly, and I can’t even believe I have to say this, don’t leave before then end of the game. You paid for 60 minutes of football, why not get your moneys worth? Over half our home games were decided in the final 2 minutes of play last season and yet like clock-work every game shortly after the start of the 4th quarter people begin filing out. I can only assume that these same people leave movies early if they think they know how it will end or don’t bother staying until the end of supper because they already know that it will end with dessert. Hell, applying that logic we should all stop part way through sex because we are pretty sure know how it’s going to end… in disappointment, profuse crying and another trip to the psychologist (errr perhaps I’ve said to much).

To Summarize: Show up early, remain seated while a play is in progress, stay until the end of the game and consider diapers.

Step 3: Know When To Cheer

This is perhaps the most important step and failure to comply with the following guidelines will is likely to lead to a verbal berating from the Rider Prophet and his band of ne’er-do-wells.

In football, you only cheer while your team is on defense. The idea is to try and disrupt your opponent’s huddle, play calling, cadence, audibles, snap, etc… So be as loud as you want when we are on defense.

When we are on offense, SHUT THE HELL UP!! By yelling and cheering like a fool while our offense is on the field all you accomplish is to disrupt your own team’s huddle, play calling, cadence, audibles, snap, etc… thus taking away any home field advantage and actually helping out the other team. Traitor!

Side note: The “no cheering on offense” guideline also applies to the wave. Yes I’m talking to you idiots in the Western Pizza Party Zone who like clock work start the damn wave during an offensive series. Look, I’m not a big fan of the wave but if you feel a burning need to partake it in, at least do it while we are on defense… or I will threaten your physical well-being (just ask the people who sit around me, they know better now).

To Summarize: Cheering on defense – Encouraged… cheering on offense – likely to incur the wrath of the Prophet who by this time will have consumed multiple rage-enhancing ryes.

By following these 3 simple guidelines, you can avoid being labelled as an idiot and ensure a positive game day experience for yourself and others.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Training Camp Begins

Previously on the Rider Prophet blog: Prophet was praising the performance of Vaalyn Jackson and looking forward to his participation in main camp; discussing Jonathan St-Pierre and his eventual replacing of O’Day; and denouncing Aaron Waldie’s football talent and calling for his release. See what he has in store this week…

Admittedly much of my Friday post has been rendered irrelevant or flat out wrong based by the time main camp opened Sunday morning. Vaalyn Jackson was cut, a new O’Day heir was appointed and Waldie has proven to have some tangible football skill. I could try and provide an explanation but a) that would require effort on my part and b) you likely wouldn’t believe in anyway. So let’s just agree to put this behind us and move on.

Following training camp the Riders made a few moves to finalize their roster for main camp: Vaalyn Jackson was cut (evidently I didn’t stay at camp long enough to see him so worn out and gassed that he could barely keep participating in drills. His conditioning was apparently not that good); Aaron Love was cut (he just wasn’t that good); Ryan Lucas was “cut” (he is still in town and will likely stay “cut” until his hammy heals). The final rookie camp victim was a veteran (it’s not a good sign when you get cut following a camp you didn’t have to participate in). David McKoy was cut thus ending a 3 year stint with the Riders where his only tangible accomplishment with the team was challenging the Nathan Hoffart record for time spent on the injury list. McKoy had great potential but was always hurt… the only thing I don’t get about the move is why we put up with 3 years lost to injury only to cut him when he finally got healthy enough to make it back onto the game day roster.

The Riders also gave Jocelyn Frenette his annual short term holiday by placing him on the inactive list. They do this every year because Frenette contributes only 2 things to this team, he long snaps and he fakes injury after defensive TDs. The coaches already know that he is among the tops in the league at both of these functions and don’t really need to evaluate him in camp so they fill the spot with somebody they actually need to evaluate. It’s a good deal for Frenette. Ike Squared was also placed on the inactive list while his separated shoulder heals. Hopefully he heals quickly so he can continue his attempt to become the first Rider Prophet endorsed player to accomplish something.

The Riders also made a surprise move just before main camp opened by shipping Jonathan St-Pierre to Toronto for Obed Cetoute. Ever since we drafted him JSP has been pegged as the next O’Day, which is high praise. To illustrate their faith in the young centre, we signed him to a 4 year deal that was said to be one of the richest Canadian rookie contracts ever. Evidently though the coaches don’t feel he has been progressing enough to be ready to step in. Also playing into this decision was the emergence of another young centre who has been progressing… Nick Hutchins. To illustrate, St-Pierre and Hutchins showed up in town at the same time. St-Pierre never set foot on the field, Hutchins managed to log some game time early in the year despite being 4 years younger than JSP. It’s clear who the coaches favour and since we are not short on OL it only makes sense to trade someone who is not needed.

As for the return, it’s tough to say at this point. Though we have 4 amazing Canadian WRs, offseason departures of Nicolson and McKoy leave us with no back-ups should god forbid one of the big 4 get hurt. That said Cetoute is a risky prospect. He’s a big receiver who has looked good in this limited playing time… but he has a history of injury including missing all of last season. So on the heels of shipping out one injury prone receiver we seem to have acquired another one which would seem to be a bit puzzling. Not to me… in a year where we have celebrating history and traditions how could they possibly abandon the longstanding tradition of having a drafted Canadian receiver occupy our 9 game?… it’s a part of our heritage people.

Training Camp continues today as the team gets ready for our first preseason game on Sunday. That will be when we truly see who does and does not have it.

Around the CFL…

- Bryan Chui has finally retired. Though the timing is odd, after 13 seasons it’s hardly unexpected. This will be a big loss for the Als and will also open the flood gates for the rest of their old guys (Calvillo, Cahoon, etc…) to finally retire as well. Als fans better enjoy this season because next year when half the team retires things could get ugly. On the positive side for Als fans the cut Cody Pickett... that’s gotta be a plus.

-This is apparently the year of the unexpected retirement as in addition to Chui, Brett Ralph, Jon Comiskey and Gibram Hamdan have also abruptly retired. Well you can add one more to the list as Jesse Newman also unexpectedly retired. The Stamps are denying that there is trouble in their locker room even though there have already been 4 unexpected retirements from the team including a couple young Canadians. They are also denying that they are in serious trouble with their Canadian talent and O-line despite the fact that they have lost 6 Canadian starters from last year and been reduced to looking to the recently un-retired Dan Comiskey and the 380+ pounder Matt Sheridan as legitimate starters along their O-line. They way they keep denying that they have a problem has me thinking that Hufnagel has adopted the George Costanza philosophy that it’s not a lie if you believe it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Roundup: First Taste Of Football

My last taste of CFL football was watching my beloved Riders lose the Grey Cup on a last second penalty. My last taste of professional football was watching my beloved Vikings fumble/intercept away a very winnable NFC Championship game. Needless to say I was pretty eager to put last year behind me and get a new one underway.

Well this morning I finally got the chance to do so. I was able to get down to Mosaic Stadium to take in the 3rd and final day of Rookie Camp. It got me even more excited for this season.

Here are some random observations:

- Brent Hawkins is by far the best of the group. We’ll see how he fares against our starters but so far I really like what I see and expect him to make our roster.

- The Rider Prophet endorsed Ike Squared seems to have a slightly separated shoulder. Which is too bad because by all accounts he was doing well. Though given the success rate of my endorsement I should probably consider endorsing Dinwiddie.

- Vaalyn Jackson moves very well for a man his size. I’ll be interested to see how he matches up in main camp.

- Willie Evans looks lazy to me. He has shown a couple times some flashes of talent but just doesn’t have the same intensity and hustle as the others.

- Overall the competition looks really good. I also like coach Schepper. He brings an intensity that I think will benefit our D-line.

- St-Pierre is no longer sporting the 2 knee braces he did last year, which is a good sign. It was odd picturing a borderline cyborg as the heir to old man O’Day.

- Carlo Thomas is far and away the best DB in camp. That isn’t a huge surprise given that he dressed for us briefly last year

- Remember when I said that Aaron Waldie had been compared to Weston Dressler? Yeah well I’m not sure who said that but the hype may have been a bit unfounded. The guy couldn’t catch an STD from a dirty prostitute. Odds are good he will be among the cuts tomorrow.

- Cary Koch, Dwayne Eley and Jeremy Gilchrist look like decent prospects.

- Aaron Fairooz looks like a lanky giant supported by 2 pencils. It’s no wonder he his always hurt, there is nothing to the guy. I think the Riders like him but you can’t make the club in the tub.

- As much as it pains me to say it Dinwiddie has looked like the best QB so far. That may change once they see some actual game time because Reesing and Bergquist strike me as guys who perform better in a real game. At least that’s what I’m praying.

The roster will have to be pared down a bit before main camp opens Sunday morning. That’s when things really heat up and the real players are separated from the future Argos.

Speaking of the Argos, they brought in 2 former Riders, Carl Berman and Denatay Heard. Berman was a glorified track star with no tangible football sense or skill... which makes him the ideal Argo prospect. As for Denatay, with the Casino on strike its probably for the best that he found a new team. I can’t see him doing well in a world without games of chance.

Also in Argo land, Gibram Hamdan who was supposed to compete for their starting QB, abruptly retired. I’m guessing it had something to do with realizing how much the Argos suck and not wanting to be a part of it. I would say that Hamdan’s retirement hurts the Argos but given that they are pretty much at rock bottom anyway they really can’t sink any lower than “screwed”… the only think lower than screwed is “Michael Bishop”.

Bold prediction: Bishop is back in double blue by Labour Day.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Featuring A Title That Is 33% Accurate

After enduring 184 football-less days, a guilty plea in a sexual harassment case, the loss of 2 all-star defensive ends and our MLB to the NFL, an influx of ex-Bombers, the loss of over half our coaching staff, 2 retirements (one significant one not so much) and endless stadium debate… training camp officially kicks off tomorrow when rookies report.

It will be great to finally see some of the green and white out of the Taylor Field turf… even if the majority of that group is unlikely to ever see any meaningful playing time in green and white. There always seems to be those one or 2 players that you can tell right from rookie camp have the skills to make an impact on this team. In 2008, it was Dressler and Bowman. Last year, it was Chris McKenzie and Joe Sykes. Who it will be this year remains to be seen.

Rookies are in tougher than in past years because we already have a fairly established roster. With a few exceptions, the rookies will have to compete for back-up spots at best (which is a good situation to be in as a team). The exceptions are of course defensive end where it’s a wide open competition and halfback where McKenzie would seem to have inside track but is hardly a lock at this point.

There are a few players that I will be watching closely over the next few days. Defensively its Brian Hawkins, Shomari Williams and the Rider Prophet endorsed Ike Squared. Offensively its QB prospect Todd Reesing, speedy receiver Aaron Waldie and cheap American Fantuz knockoff Aaron Fairooz.

The Riders have to trim their roster to 68 plus exemptions (Canadian rookies/junior players) so the window of opportunity is only slightly bigger than Milt Stegal’s collection of Grey Cup rings.

CFL Ins and Outs


In: LB Byron Bullock, DL Steven Riddick, LB Christian Houle (free agent signing)


In: RB Andrew Hamilton, DB Jonathan Hood, OL Cody Husband (free agent signing)


In: DB Mike Mickens, DB Ronnie Amadi, LB Eryk Anders, RB Matt Henry, OL Oamo Culbreath (free agent signing)

Out: WR Brett Ralph (retired)


In: LB Giancarlo Rapanaro, WR Yembeh Moiba (free agent signing)


In: DB Kurt Thompson, LB Matt Di Paola, DE Patrick Ross, WR Yunell Clayton (free agent signing)