I am insanely envious of people in Saskatoon. Not being able to see a shred of training camp is killing me. It's been an excruciating wait since my last taste of CFL football (and it was a shorter wait than normal once you factor in the post Grey Cup partying time). Besides I really want to get my first taste of real football in before the arrogance/stupidity of the CFL/CFLPA snatch it away from us.
Before I get into actual football talk (you know the stuff we all actually want), I guess I should comment on the labour strife that is threatening the start of the season. To summarize: The League is bargaining (if you can call what they are doing bargaining) like utter assholes. They seem to think that forcing a deal upon the players is the best way to get this done (it's just terrible bargaining strategy). I think their current offer is actually very reasonable but that tends not to matter when you refuse to speak to other side.
The players for their part are mistakenly trying to recoup decades of underpayment all at once. These are smart business owners (well, some might question the sanity of owning one of the privately held teams) they are not going to agree to a deal that skyrockets their labour costs in a short period. Business people like slow steady growth. Also this whole strike business will be insanely divisive in the player ranks. A large majority of players are more concerned about earning a job period than they are about whether is pays peanuts or slightly more peanuts. Both in terms of finances and job security they cannot afford a work stoppage. So while the high paid vets with job security might be ok with a short strike, the longer it drags out, the less players will be willing to keep supporting the strike.
The road both sides have us heading down is a losing proposition for everyone involved, everyone. I only hope that they do something about it before real damage is done.
No back to actual football. Here are some random thoughts on training camp
- As PR Guy pointed out to me, I have yet to name my 2014 Official Rider Prophet player endorsement. For those of you who are new, each year I officially endorse a bright new prospect (generally based on how much I like their name) and they end up getting cut. The likes of Jose Valdez, Boo Robinson, Ikena Ike and Gabe Nyenhuis have all fallen victim to the curse of the Rider Prophet endorsement. Well this year I am hoping to buck the trend. With honourable mentions to Levy Adcock (obvious reasons) and Ryan Tillman (would have enabled jokes about it being hard for a Rider named Tillman to find a babysitter in Regina)... this year I will be officially endorsing Chad Kilgore who I think has the most kickass name for an LB.
- Apologies to Chad and anyone who likes his talent because in endorsing him I have likely handed to the starting MLB job to Morty Ivy or Sam Hurl
- There have been a lot of injuries at camp but it may not be all bad news. For one, so far there have been no serious injuries. Also, injuries to proven starters like Getzlaf are giving a lot of rookies a lot more practice reps than normal. It would be nice to get out starting unit in a rhythm but this may allow us to uncover a hidden gem from among our ranks or at a minimum have back-ups who have actually had some tangible time with the starting unit.
- Given that our OL and DBs are set and RBs and DT really won't be sorted out until preseason games, I have been keeping a keen eye on 3 battles:
WR - where Ryan Smith (aka the short white North Dakota kid will all desperately want to be Dressler 2.0), Chad Schillens and Brett Swain seem to be making a strong case for themselves
LB - Its early but Brian Peters seems to have a firm grip on the OLB spot and I think he will do well there. MLB is a 3 person race between Kilgore, Hurl and Ivy. Hurl is a step up from the Shomari experiment but I'm not convinced he can be the impact player we need there.
Back-Ups - Be it receiver, OL or DB I don't think anyone can safely assume they will be a back-up even if they held that spot last year. There seems to be talent among the new recruits and vets like a Carlo Thomas, Devin Tyler or Eron Riley will need to step up to stay on the roster.
- Side note: Based on what I have been reading, Jade Etienne is losing the "Draft bust receivers from Saskatchewan" contest to Jordan Sisco, by a wide margin... for shame Etienne. I see him being a cut.