Monday, February 28, 2011

Rider Prophet Salutes US Expansion: Baltimore Stallions

There is an old saying that if you throw enough shit at a wall, something is bound to stick. That was certainly true of the Baltimore Stallions. While their US expansion counterparts seemed to be doing everything wrong, in Baltimore everything came together and for once worked out extremely well.

Baltimore was full of football fans but had been without a team since 1983 when their beloved Colts packed their bags and headed to Indianapolis.  The combination of a strong football market, a good venue and solid ownership put Baltimore on strong footing from day one. Though even the strongest of the US teams had its share of idiocy.

Years in the League: 1994 – 1995
Overall Record: 27 – 9
Notable Players: QB Tracy Ham, RB Mike Pringle, LB OJ Brigance, DL Jerald Baylis, DL Elfrid Payton.

The Good
- Unlike the other US franchises, Baltimore wisely decided on a GM and Head Coach with a wealth of CFL experience in Jim Popp and Don Matthews.

- The combination of a strong front office and a talent laden roster instantly made them a success on the field. They were the most successful of all the US expansion teams by far (not that that is saying much).

- Averaged over 30,000 fans per game

- Appeared in the Grey Cup in both their seasons and became the first and only US team to win the Grey Cup when they defeated the Stampeders in 1995 here at Taylor Field.

The Bad
The comedy of errors surrounding the team name. They originally wanted to be called the Baltimore Colts to play off the old NFL franchise. Not surprisingly, the NFL took some issue with the team being called the Colts and launched legal action. And when the deep pocketed corporate giant that is the NFL takes on their cash strapped little cousin to the north in court, who do you think won? That’s right the NFL prevailed and Baltimore could no longer be called the Colts.

This left the franchise flabbergasted. If they couldn’t use Colts, what could they do?!? If only there was some other term for a horse they could use instead! Alas no one involved with the franchise seemed to own a thesaurus or know anything about horses so they opted to go forward as the Baltimore CFLers.  An awe inspiring team name if there ever was one.

Eventually someone realized that Stallions could be substituted for Colts with relative ease and the Baltimore Stallions finally had a name. I always found it funny how long it took them to figure this out since I was 11 at the time and remember thinking aloud “Why not just use Stallions instead?” Though that may or may not have been a direct result of the influence of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Wyld Stallyns!!

After the 1995 season, the CFL started to disband most of its US teams. However, due their strong performance both on and off the field, the Stallions were poised to make the cut and survive… that was until the NFL announced that Baltimore would finally be receiving another NFL franchise (I suspect the CFL’s success in the city played some role in their decision). Owner Jim Speros was smart enough to realize that no matter how popular the Stallions were, there was no way they could compete head to head with the Ravens despite his best efforts. The team ended up moving to Montreal to become the Alouettes.

Video Evidence
Here's a clip from the 1995 Grey Cup here in Regina.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Rider Prophet Salutes US Expansion: Las Vegas Posse

 What town has a large population but no pro sports team? Las Vegas
And where to people go when they are looking for entertainment? Las Vegas
And where is there more money than people know what to do with? Las Vegas

It seemed so simple. The only thing lacking in Vegas (other than morals) was a pro sports team. This narrow minded reasoning of course omits the long list of reasons why Vegas is a terrible place for a sports team and why none of the major US based sports league set up shop in Vegas. But all this was of no concern to Nick Miletti who became the owner of a CFL expansion team from Sin City in time for the 1994 CFL season.

Years in the League: 1994
Overall Record: 5 - 13
Notable Players: QB Anthony Calvillo, DL Shonte Peoples, WR Curtis Mayfield, KR Tamarick Vanover, RB Jon Volpe, LB Greg Battle, K Carlos Huerta

The Good
- Introduced the CFL to future Hall of Famer Anthony Calvillo
- Historical comedic value

The Bad
- Pretty much everything not covered in “The Good”

- Failed to consider the possibility of it being really, really, really hot in Las Vegas when deciding to play football at an outdoor stadium in July and August.

- They practiced on a casino parking lot that was converted into a practice field… which was only 70 yards long.

- Their mascot was 8 men on horseback called “The Eight Horsemen”… take 8 live horses, add the sweltering Nevada heat and you get a pungent odour that is more suitable for a feedlot than the sidelines of a football field.

- The Posse had a scantily clad group of cheerleaders called the “Showgirls”. At times Posse head coach had them loiter behind their opponents’ bench in an attempt to distract them.

- During their debut game in the CFL, their kick returner (Tamarick Vanover) called for a fair catch while the ball was in the air and headed for the sidelines. Meanwhile the BC Lion players (who actually knew the Canadian rules) jumped on the loose ball in the endzone for one of the easiest TDs ever scored. Later that same game Vanover caught a punt on his own 10 yard line and ran back into his own endzone and out the back thinking he was conceding a single. Again, the BC players (who knew the Canadian rules) celebrated one of the easiest safeties ever scored.

- This… 

- Averaged under 9000 fans per game.

- Only 2350 people showed up to their second last home game against the Blue Bombers and a large portion of that was a contingent who made the trip from Winnipeg. That game is now etched in the record book as the lowest attendance in league history.

- Their final home had to be moved to Edmonton because ticket sales were so bad.

Mercifully folded after the gong show that was their inaugural season.

Video Evidence
Here's a clip of Anthony Calvillo from his Posse days... he fumbles and Doug Flutie proceeds to score in 2 easy plays. Sadly, it was the least embarrassing clip of the Posse I could find. The other option was one of Anthony Calvillo injury knee on the first play of the game.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jason Maas Gets Cut

The Eskimos recently released QB Jason Maas which doesn't really come as a surprise to anyone... except Maas who declined the chance to retire with some pride because he still wants to play.  That is admirable and all but the fact remains that nobody wants him to play for them.

Anyway, with Mass' career likely to come to end in the very near future, Media Consultant suggested I break out the greatest article ever written on Jason Maas for what might be the last time.

If you've read it before its worth reading again because its that good. If you haven't read it yet, you are living a very sad an unfulfilled life. This was written after Maas was traded to Hamilton. Enjoy


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rider Prophet Salutes US Expansion: Shreveport Pirates

The year was 1994 and Bernie Glieberman needed something to occupy his time between running the soon to be defunct Ottawa Rough Riders into the ground and running the not yet operation but soon to be defunct nonetheless Ottawa Renegades into the ground. 

Gleiberman was the owner of the Rough Riders at the time and determined that the reason his team was so bad had nothing to do with his ownership or the ridiculous decisions made by his son Lonnie. No, clearly the Rough Riders’ problems were the result of the team being in Ottawa and not somewhere in the States and so he told the league he wanted to move the team south. The CFL did not want to see the end of one of the most storied franchises in the leagues history (little did they know it was pretty much inevitable) so they ended up cutting a deal with Glieberman whereby the Gliebermans got an expansion team in Shreveport and got to take players with him while a new ownership group got the scorched remains of the Rough Riders (name, logos, colours, history). 

Years in the League: 1994 – 1995
Overall Record: 8 - 28
Notable Players: John Heidenreich (who went on to become a successful professional wrestler), K Bjorn Kittmo, DL Joe Montford, DL Elfrid Payton, OL Uzooma Okeke, WR Curtis Mayfield 

The Good
- umm… err… they somehow managed to stay in the league for 2 whole years.

The Bad
- The team hired John Huard as their head coach only to fire him during their inaugural training camp.
- During training camp, the players were housed on the second floor of a livestock barn.
- They only managed 8 wins over 2 seasons making them the least successful expansion team ever.
- “The Great Tucker Caper” – By the end of 1995 Glieberman owed the city of Shreveport a lot of money so they tried to seize is vintage 1948 Tucker as a result. Glieberman’s lawyer tried to skip town in the car and hide it but ran out of gas and was picked up by the police before he could complete his mission.

Team folded following the 1995 season.

Video Evidence
Note how full the stands are throughout


Monday, February 21, 2011

Rider Prophet Salutes US Expansion

Much like budding flowers and chirping birds have become a symbol of spring, a Rider Prophet Salute has become the official sign of a slow offseason. 

As part of my ongoing efforts to entertain you the reader and fill this blog with content (though not necessarily prioritized in that order), I have presented salutes to things such as bad team names and bad jerseys. Well as the 2011 offseason rolls on and actual news becomes scarcer and scarcer its time for a new salute. This time we will be looking back and saluting a part of the CFL’s long a storied history… a part they’d probably prefer be stricken from the record.

It was dark time for the CFL. Their financial papers had more red ink than a communist tattoo parlour (if such a thing existed).  In their desperation the league came up with the idea of expanding the league to include some American franchises. The franchise fees that the teams would have to pay would inject some much needed cash into the CFL. While I’m sure nobody involved thought that US expansion was an ideal solution for Canadian football, I don’t think anyone involved imagined the hilarious lows that this escapade would lead to. 

So sit back and enjoy as we take a stroll down memory lane as the Rider Prophet Salutes US Expansion.

Rider Prophet Salutes US Expansion: Sacramento Gold Miners

In 1993, Sacramento became the first American team to join the CFL. They were actually supposed to be one of 2 teams (the other being the San Antonio) to join the League in 1993 but the latter folded before it even really got started when the owner ran out of money (a telling omen of how the whole US expansion thing would go). The Gold Miners came from the remnants of the Sacramento Surge of the World League of American Football.

Years in the League: 1993 – 1994
Overall Record: 15-20-1
Notable Players: QB David Archer (that Rider-hating SOB), WR Rod Harris, DT George Bethune, RB Mike Pringle, RB Mike Oliphant, QB Kerwin Bell


The Good
- They forever etched themselves in the CFL record books by becoming the first American team to defeat a Canadian team… by beating the Saskatchewan Roughriders (pauses to silently shake head in disgust).
- They had some decent talent on their team and showed signs of improvement over their 2 years

The Bad
- Their “stadium” sucked. Most of the seating was grandstands and the closest thing to amenities provided were port-a-potties
- Attendance. They had to give away close to 2000 a game to make the crowds look more respectable you know relatively thinking.

The team relocated to San Antonio following the 1994 season.

Video Evidence:
Here's a clip of a '94 match-up against the Stamps.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Analyzing Free Agency So Far

After remaining relatively quiet on the opening day of free agency, the Riders started making some deals as the week wore on. One of which was signing Calgary DE Tearrius George to a deal. The first thing that popped into my head when that happened was to open my post with "Riders sign Tearrius George... I love that monkey". Then I realized that there was a good chance that people would take that the wrong way and I would be accused of being an even bigger racist than normal. So I decided instead to go with "Riders sign Tearrius George... Man in the Yellow Hat added to negotiation list.

The Riders also sign another former Stamp, CB John Eubanks. While historically any Calgary DB not named Anderson or Browner has been brutal, we do currently have the worst CBs in the league so I'm willing to give pretty much anything a try.

We also signed Hamilton OL George Hudson who helps keep the average age of our O-line somewhere between senior citizen and a landmark of historical value. Seriously though , Hudson was needed. With the loss of Wayne Smith we were thin on Canadian OL who could fill in for Gauthier if need be. Do I like the fact that we won't consider anyone born after 1980? No. But this one was a necessary evil.

As for the rest of the league it was pretty much Hamilton snapping up as many former Riders as they could and Montreal signing virtually everything else. Other than the odd deal here or there that was pretty much it. After losing the majority of their secondary, the Stamps pretty much had to sign Tisdale (who was the only other talented DB to test free agency). Toronto did next to nothing (which was a dramatic change of philosophies from previous years). Tillman snapped up some Canadians for his Esks and then went idle. The Bombers were idle. BC made 2 big moves (Archibald and Wilson).

Joel Bell, Kitwana and Sean Lucas remain on the market, Lucas being the highest profile of the group. Not sure how long this will draw out but nobody seems to be in a rush.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Free Agent Summary

Free agency opened today, I'll have my full thoughts on the goings on on Friday but for now here's a summary of what's happened so far.

- The Esks signed Ol Brian Ramsay and DL Jermaine Reid. Both part of Tillman's effort to rebuild the non-existent Canadian content of the Esks.

- The Argos signed Wes Lysack, re-signed Kevin Huntley and Lin-J Shell (both big re-signings for the Argos.)

- BC signed DL Eric Taylor and is poised to sign OL Ben Archibald

- Winnipeg re-signed Jonathan Hefney (despite a rocky start to their negotiations). They also signed DL Shawn Mayne

- Calgary signed DB Geoff Tisdale which will help replace the loss of both their all-star CBs. They also signed LB Tim St-Pierre

- Hamilton was very active poaching Riders. They got Daniel Francis, Wayne Smith (all 2.5 games of him) and Rey Williams.

- Hamilton also payed an insane amount of money ($135K per season for 3 years) to sign Avon Cobourne. I realize that Cobb isn't anything special but that seems like a lot to throw at an RB the wrong side of 30.

- Montreal was also busy, making Dwight Anderson the top paid CB in the league, picking up Tad Crawford (to replace the soon to retire Matthieux Proulx) and RB Yvenson Bernard, re-signing RB Brandon Whitaker and signing WR Rashaud Slaughter and former NFLer Jerry Porter.

All is quiet on the Rider front for now, though Sean Lucas is considering an offer from us as well as a few other teams.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Free Agency 2011

***Opening reminder: Today is Valentines Day. If you have a significant other (or even an insignificant one) and have yet to do anything for them you are likely in a lot of crap and should immediately go into full damage control mode.

The next couple days are two very important dates on the CFL offseason calendar. Tomorrow marks the last day for CFL players in their option year to sign with an NFL team.  If they don’t sign an NFL deal by midnight tomorrow then they have to return and play out their option year in the CFL.  Eight players have already made the jump but I doubt there will be many more. (Fingers crossed on Jerrell Freeman) 

Then as the option year window closes, free agency opens up bright and early on the 16th.
If you are expecting excitement and big signings, I think this year’s free agency will disappoint. The talent hitting the open market is thinner than an anorexic’s waistline. There are but a handful of big names testing the free agency waters: Ben Archibald, Dwight Anderson, Jonathan Hefney and Kevin Huntley. I suppose you could add Damon Duval to that list but nobody appears to want him. Don’t expect the Riders to go after any of the big names (they already made their big move with Gauthier)

Jarious Jackson will reportedly see if any team is willing to give him a chance at starting and if not will re-sign in BC for what will likely be his final contract… I somehow doubt Buono is losing sleep over this.

For the Riders 6 players are poised to hit the open market: 

Kitwana Jones – Richie likes him, Etch likes him. I’m guessing he comes pretty cheap. Odds are good he re-signs.

Daniel Francis – Far from a lock. With Marshall and Hall in charge, there is no way we start 2 small LBs again so Francis’ only shot is as a back-up safety. Put him as 50-50.

Joel Bell – Was the starting right tackle in ’09 but lost that job when we signed Goodspeed. Was the starting left tackle in ’10 but lost that when we signed Gauthier.  Just no love for Bell. I think we’d take him back but only at backup salary. Other teams will likely be willing to pay him more than we are.

Wayne Smith – Now that we are starting a Canadian at tackle we need to re-sign Smith so we have a back-up… well for one game at least.

Rey Williams (remember him, he his still technically our property until tomorrow) – The only way I see us bringing back Rey Williams is if Jerrell Freeman ends up in the NFL.

Sean Lucas – Honestly it will not surprise me for Lucas to leave. If you would have asked me at any point before last season, I would have labelled him as a “must sign” as he was arguably the best cover LB in the league. But last year he turned in a fairly lacklustre performance (and that’s putting it nicely). While I won’t write him off completely based on one season, it will certainly affect how much money we are prepared to offer him as his performance has certainly removed the “must sign” tag. And make no mistake about it there is a GM up in Edmonton who will not hesitate to make a strong play for Lucas’ services. 

As always, I will have full coverage of all the free agent moves… eventually. What I lack in timeliness, I more than make up for in… … you know I really can’t think of a way to finish that sentence that is not at least 90% a lie.

CFL Ins and Outs

CFL Hall of Fame
In: Don Matthews, Terry Vaughn, Danny McManus, Joe Montford, Chris Flynn, Ken Lehmann and Gino Fracas (Class of 2011)
It’s becoming a recurring theme will hall of fame inductions that the group features a list of people widely regarded as the best at their position and a few names that make you go “who?”

In: Kye Stewart (contract extension)
Out: Ryan Grice-Mullen
This makes me very happy. Had a knee injury not derailed his 2009 season, Stewart would have been a strong contender for Rookie of the Year. Last year I still think he was somewhat hampered by his recovery from that injury. With another year of recovery under his belt I expect him to return to the 2009 version of Kye Stewart.
As for Grease-Mullen, obviously it makes me very happy that we are getting rid of that embarrassment of a kick returner. Thing is, even if we tried to re-sign him, he probably would just let the pen bounce off his face while the contact sailed west towards Calgary.

In: KR Larry Taylor (free agent signing) LS Randy Chevrier (contract extension)
While there’s no denying that Taylor is a talented return guy, I found Hufnagel’s comments on the signing very odd. He said that with the loss of Browner and the likely loss of Anderson they were short on playmakers so they signed Taylor who was the best playmaker available. What?!? So basically he figures that the best was to replace to all-star CBs is to sign a kick returner.That is misguided logic if I have ever seen it… Hopefully it continues J !

In: FB Jon Oosterhuis, DL Dorian Smith (contract extension), OL Marlon Winn, RB Alex Henderson (free agent signing)
Out: DL Phillip Hunt (signed with Philadelphia Eagles)
Being the CFL sack leader seems to be the quickest way to make it to the NFL, as Hunt becomes the 3rd CFL sack leader in a row to get picked up by an NFL team.

Out: Kelly Bates (cut)
I’m shocked!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Needs More Old Man

In the wake of the retirement of Jeremy O’Day, our offensive line was in danger of becoming something it hasn’t been in many years… young. I mean sure Goodspeed and Geno are still there to fill the old man quotient. But with Chris Best securing one guard spot, Joel Bell manning a tackle spot and us presumably getting younger at centre the youth movement was on.

Well fear not, Taman recognized this alarming downward trend in the age of our line and acted quickly to remedy the situation by signing an old OL to replace O’Day… Alexander Gauthier. Thank goodness! Heaven forbid our O-line actually be capable of using a cell phone instead of a rotary dialer or computer as opposed to the tried and true feather dipped in ink. 

All jokes aside, this is actually a decent signing by the Riders. While he his old and likely only a short term solution, the fact remains that a starting calibre, Canadian tackle is a valuable commodity. It will allow us to start 4 Canadians on the O-line which will help alleviate ratio concerns created by the departure of Andy Fantuz and the apparent end of the Canadian corner experiment. It also helps bump up our “former Bomber” quotient which will receive extra importance now that our GM and Head Coach are both of that pedigree. 

Sadly this likely spells the end of Joel Bell’s stint as a Rider. He is a free agent and with Gauthier and Goodspeed already under contract the need for Bell has plummeted quicker than Man In the Bush’s pants on a Friday night. Also the fact that he is young enough to be the son of some of the other OLs clearly doesn’t really fit into our mould for the ideal OL. This is too bad as I’ve always been a Joel Bell fan. Obviously he has a ways to go before his play will earn him all-start consideration but for a guy that young and that athletically gifted to be a starting tackle so early in his career you have to think that he has a great career ahead of him.

I can only assume that the search for an old starting guard to replace Makowsky next year is well underway.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Jeremy O’Day Retires

On Friday I made the following comment about the signing of Bart Archedekin:

Archdekin was a centre in college. Justin Glover also played some centre. Nick Hutchins is a centre... anyone else starting to wonder if O'day is thinking about retirement?
Sometimes I even impress myself!

Given that the majority of our O-line began playing back in the 90s, we knew this day was coming eventually. In fact, I think many of us assumed it would come much sooner than it actually did. But after 14 seasons in the CFL and 12 as the steady force in the middle of the Riders’ O-line Jeremy O’Day has decided to retire. Putting an end to a remarkable CFL career that will surely earn him a spot in the Plaza of Honour.

Looking back, I’m still amazed that O’Day ended up as a Rider in the first place. He was drafted in the ’97 supplemental draft by the Argos and earned a Grey Cup ring with them that same year. Then for reasons I’ll never understand he signed with the Riders following the ’98 season… a season where the Riders went 5-13 (and it’s not exactly like they were poised for a quick turnaround). Even the most devout Rider fan would have to question his logic. 

But whatever his reasons were at the time, his decision was a blessing for this franchise as O’Day gave us 12 incredible years both on and off the field. On the field he anchored our O-Line and was one of the better centres in the league for over a decade. He was a named a league all-star on 3 occasions and the Riders nominee for top lineman 4 times… which is actually an amazing feat given that he played alongside Gene Makowsky, Andrew Greene and Fred Childress (who combined for 7 Western nominations for top lineman and 4 CFL’s Most Outstanding Lineman awards). 

Off the field, O’Day immersed himself in the community and volunteered for many worthwhile causes. For his efforts he was recognized as the winner of the Tom Pate Memorial award in 2008. O’Day was also one of the leaders within the Players Association. 

O’Day will not be leaving the team completely as he has taken on a front office job as the team’s Football Operations Coordinator. We’re not really sure what that means though if I were to guess I would say he’s the guy that handles and Football Ops issues during Ken Miller’s nap time and mandatory daily Matlock episode.

So as we say goodbye by to one centre, we look ahead to who might have the rather large task of replacing him. Here are the current contenders:

Nick Hutchins – We have been grooming him ever since we drafted him in 2009. He impressed the staff enough for them to trade away Jonathan St-Pierre who was supposed to be O’Day’s replacement. He doesn’t have much starting experience but he’s young and full of potential. There would likely be growing pains but if we commit to him, he may just develop into a long term solution at centre.
Marc Parenteau – Has considerable experience as a starting OL and has seen spot duty at centre. Would offer more veteran savvy than a newcomer but is far from a sure thing himself. Moving him to centre would also take away a dangerous receiving threat from our offense.
Gene Makowksy – Has filled in for O’Day during injuries in the past so it wouldn’t be out of the question to move him to the middle.  He would be a veteran presence in the middle of a rebuilt line. Downside is that is would only be a one year temporary fix… though we have been predicting his retirement for like 3 years now so who really knows. He could be like the Rolling Stones.

Justin Glover/Bart Archdekin – Both are long shots since they have no pro experience but they were highly regarded for their strong play at the position in college so who knows what they could do if they turn in a strong training camp.
Steve Buratto (who by process of elimination has finally been given a job as OL coach) will have his work cut out for him that’s for sure.

CFL Ins and Outs

In: WR Chris Bauman, QB Matt Nichols (free agent signing)
Given Eric Tillman’s love of Canadian talent (and Edmonton’s complete lack of anything resembling Canadian talent) it was no surprise to see him make a strong play for the former #1 pick Bauman. He gave him $125,000 per year and $47,000 up front which was far above what other interested teams were willing to pony up. Bauman has shown glimpses but never managed to fully live up the potential that everyone sees in him. Others seem hesitant to offer big bucks for a 4th year player who has yet to develop into a fulltime starter. Tillman seems to be willing to bet big money that he will finally do it this year. Hell if Ricky Ray managed to turn Kamau Incompleterson into the League’s top Canadian you’ve got to think Bauman has a pretty good chance.

In: KR Chad Owens, OL Shannon Boatman, LS Chad Rempel (contract extension), WR Drameagon Powers, DB Matterral Richardson (free agent signing)
Despite offers from the NY Jets in the NFL, Owens opted to sign a 3 year deal with the Argos. The Argos for their part made it worth his while by given him a $50,000 signing bonus and $175,000 per season. That may seem like a lot of money but other than Cory Boyd, Owens is the Argos’ only offensive weapon so it’s not like they have to worry about saving money for the rest of the offense.

In: RB Ahmad Green (free agent signing)
Yes this is the Ahmad Green, the one who used to play for the Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans. Other than the PR value of signing a former Packer in the week leading up to the Super Bowl I’d don’t see this move having much benefit for the Als. Green’s best years are clearly behind him… like 3-5 years behind him. 

Out: DL Garrett McIntyre (signed with NY Jets)
It’s amazing the difference a year makes. Last year 20 CFL players signed NFL deals. McIntyre becomes just the 7th so far to do so this year.

In: DL DeVone Claybrooks, WR Ken-Yon Rambo (contract extension)
I got nothing.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Morning Sentimonies: No More Fantuz

So unfortunately nobody decided to step up and chloroform Andy Fantuz in order to prevent him from signing an NFL contract. Fantuz made it official that he had signed with the Chicago Bears. Actually, I sent Man in the Bush on a secret mission to drug and kidnap Fantuz but before he could get the job done he lost all his money to a reputable fellow running a 3 card monte game in an alley. He ended up having to trade the burlap sack to some hutterites in exchange for some food and inadvertently taking the drugs himself and waking up days later on a park bench in Delaware... without his pants naturally. Good help is hard to find.

Clearly this is a blow to the Riders. While we are blessed with great depth at Canadian receiver, you just can’t replace a guy like Fantuz. Need I remind you of 2:09 of this video:

or 3:50 of this one...

With the likes of Dressler, Bagg, Getzlaf and Koch, our offense will continue to be dangerous through the air. But there is only one Andy Fantuz and he will be missed.

This is of course nothing new to Rider fans. In recent years we have seen the NFL poach the likes of Kenton Keith, John Chick, Stevie Baggs and Ray Williams. Though what makes this one harder is the fact that Fantuz unlike the others is a Canadian. Elite Canadians don’t grow on trees.

Will Fantuz make the cut down there? Honestly, I doubt it. I mean I wish him all the best but though his hands are unbelievable, his speed is not. Also working against him are the lack of a running start for the first time in his football career as well as the fact that he hasn’t played much special teams so he will have a harder time earning a roster spot as a pure receiver. Then again, the Bears don’t exactly have great receivers so if there was ever a team he had a chance on it would be da Bears. I’m just sorry he has to put up with Jay Cutler. In a normal year I’d say we’ll be seeing Fantuz again in September.

My only fear is a lockout. Tough as it would be, I could stomach Fantuz being gone so he could chase his NFL dream. But it would rip out his heart and the heart of Rider Nation to watch him sit idle and not be able to suit up for anybody.

So as we bid (hopefully a temporary) adieu to the reigning Most Outstanding Canadian, let us begin experimenting on hand growth medication for the remaining Canuck receivers on our roster. According to the legitimate looking ads that pop up while I surf the interweb and the emails I receive, scientists have uncovered ways to grow a penis 4 inches in a matter of weeks. I assume it can’t be that hard to transfer the process to hands.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Round-Up

Well after a relatively quiet few weeks, the last few days have been a flurry of activity. This is particularly good news for you the reader as I was getting dangerously close to having to come up with some sort of filler. Problem was ideas were few and far between so the quality would likely have been below even my rock bottom standards. To the news…

For me the biggest news of the week was the announcement that Craig Dickenson had been hired as our Special Teams Coordinator. This news came out of nowhere but was certainly a pleasant surprise. Admittedly replacing Daley with an inanimate carbon rod would have been an improvement. But Dickenson is more than an improvement, he is a monumental leap forward. While in Calgary he fielded some outstanding special teams units. He was a good enough coach to catch the eye of the NFL. He’s young, he’s bright, he’s not just some ”experienced” coach we arbitrarily assume will do good on special teams. This is a coach with a proven track record of success… this is a great signing for the Riders.

The next biggest Rider news was the announcement that Lance Frazier had agreed to a contract extension. Frazier is an elite HB in the CFL and is a veteran presence on what is otherwise a very young secondary (well a young secondary and old man Morgan but I’ve been trying to wipe his 2010 season from my memory)… and Frazier isn’t even that old. With the established Frazier, the emerging James Patrick and quickly developing Chris McKenzie, the interior of our secondary should be extremely solid for the next while. And they will need to be in order to compensate/overcome the failings our cornerbacks.

The team also finally made the Richie Hall hiring official and re-signed Neal Hughes but neither of those is really news by this point.

The team also announced the release of Donovan Alexander... who was promptly scooped up by Eric Tillman. I can only assume this means we are giving up on the whole Canadian corner thing. I'll never really get the whole Donovan Alexander thing. In 2009 we paid a hefty price to acquire him and he started every game. Sure he wasn't an all-star but he held his own. The after a shaky start in 2010 he gets his posterior permanently affixed to the bench. And its not like he was ceding his spot to quality players, our corners were crap. But for whatever reason Alexander never got or earned a second chance. I wonder whose locker he pooped in?

CFL Ins and Outs

In: OL Bart Archdekin (free agent signing)
Archdekin was a centre in college. Justin Glover also played some centre. Nick Hutchins is a centre... anyone else starting to wonder if O'day is thinking about retirement?

In: DB Davis Sanchez (contract extension)
Despite being the ripe old age of 56, Dirty Sanchez has signed a 3 year extension with the Lions. The odds of him actually lasting the length of the are roughly on par with the odds of Charlie Sheen staying clean for an entire taping of Two and a Half Men.

In: WR Romby Bryant, OL Steve Myddelton (contract extension)
Out: OL Rob Lazeo (retired)

Though I have nothing but respect for Laz as a player, I am glad he is finally calling it a career… mainly because this should mercifully bring an end to the great Calgary wall of side boob.

In: K Sandro DeAngelis (restructured contract... for less money)
Hard to believe that people aren't willing to continue to pay you top dollar when you suck at your job.

In: LB Buster Davis, DE Jermaine McGee, RB Remene Alston Jr., QB Paul Smith, WR Reggie Smith (free agent signing)

In: WR Ray Fisher (free agent signing)