Wednesday, December 2, 2015

9th Annual Rider Prophet Awards

Hard to believe this is the ninth edition of these not-so-illustrious awards. I'm mostly surprised that some sort of copyright infringement or defamation lawsuit hasn't shut this down. Maybe I'm protected by the fact that anyone considering suing me knows that all they could get out of me is an unclaimed scratch ticket worth a another free ticket, $1.75 worth of Canadian Tire money and a pack of soup crackers I stole from the cafeteria. That is my net worth. Let this serve as foreshadowing that prizes for award winners this year will be less than lucrative. 

Award winners this year will receive their selection from my leftover Halloween candy bowl and my signature on any part of their body above the waist or below the knees. Let's get to it.

Best Player Name
There was a distinct lack of funny names this season, so we will turn to the “hard to pronounce group” for this year’s winner. Starting Argo cornerback Akwasi Owusu-Ansah takes home this year’s award. I feel like I’ve cast some sort of voodoo curse just by saying his name aloud.

Previous Winners: Lirim Hajrullahu, SirVincent Rogers, Drew Willy, Bear Woods, Solomon Elimimian, Craphonso Thorpe, Charleston Hughes, Chijioke Onyenegecha

Quote of the Year
Usually this award goes to a particularly funny quote but I’m going in a slightly different direction this year. At the time this quote was uttered prior to the season I found it pretty odd but it gets even better with the benefit of hindsight knowing how the season played out.

Prior to the season, when new Defensive Coordinator Greg Quick was describing the kind of defense he wanted to run he said the following.

“The samurai used to make sure after they had defeated their opponent, they would take the head off the opponent to ensure they’re dead. We need to the same thing as a defensive unit.”

So in addition to be a very odd and particularly gory analogy, the quote is also somewhat ironic as in the end, it was our secondary out there running around like they had their heads cut off.

Previous Winners: Solomon Elimimian, Ed Hervey, Joe Mack, Henry Burris, Eddie Johnson, Jason Clermont, Mike Abou-Mechrek x2

Play of the Year
Honourable mention goes to Matt Nichols for managing to get intercepted by Zach Evans on a handoff attempt as well as to Corey Watman for Matt Rea for bouncing off each other while trying in vain to catch a pass in the endzone. But this play was hands down my selection for Play of the Year because in 30 seconds it managed to encapsulate the entire Rider season. (play starts at 2:35 of this highlight package )

Note for the "video impaired" its the play where Sunseri somehow fumbles a one yard plunge and it somehow results in a first down for the Riders.
Botched Call of the Year
I could probably release a multi-book series on officiating gaffs in the CFL this season. I could also double it in size if I included NFL officiating gaffs. Point being, there was a long list of candidates for this award. That meant the winner had to show something special beyond just your run of the mill CFL officiating error. What I was looking for had to have a significant impact on the outcome of a game; be so bad that the League was forced to admit a mistake (something they rarely do); and it had to demonstrate a particularly high level of just sheer head shaking stupidity. I found the trifecta in this play…

Sep 25, a minute left in the 4th quarter, Winnipeg vs. Calgary. Bombers are driving for the game tying FG. On 3rd and 1 Nichols sneaks for the first down within FG range. But wait, flag on the play (you’re shocked I know). Winnipeg was penalized for an illegal formation, no end. The penalty pushed them back out to 3rd and 6 forcing Hajrullahu to attempt a 50 yard FG. He missed, Winnipeg lost. At the time I remember thinking, how stupid must Winnipeg be to take an alignment penalty on a plunge… then footage emerged of the actual infraction:

So basically Darvin Adams asked the ref if was lined up correctly, the ref nodded yes and then the same ref promptly flagged him for not being lined up correctly. That my friends is your botched call of the year.

The Commercial I Didn’t Get Sick of Seeing Even Though TSN Made Me Watch It 54,297 Times Award
It was a really bad year for commercial between the generally awful Wendy’s ads, the painful Dominion Lending ukulele couple Grey Cup ad and the Tim Horton commercials where they asked random people to get into a pitch black box and “feel around”. Seriously did not one of those people think “hey, odds of this leading to some kind of sexual assault are pretty good”? Nobody? Note to anyone reading this: Do not get into a strange dark box with no exits! There is probably not coffee waiting for you inside!

Then this commercial came along to save the day. It is both a good commercial and holds some sentimental value for me. In a weird turn of events even though it was clearly the best, they showed it the least.

Fans’ Choice Douche-Bag of the Year
You the fans have spoken yet again. In the most closely contested vote in the history of this award, Corey Chamblin (Chamberlin as some people are still convinced) edged out Rogers by just 5 votes to be chosen by you as the Fan’s Choice Douche Bag of the Year. Chamblin garnered 49% of votes.

This result was definitely a surprise to me. I kinda assumed Rogers would win but apparently I underestimated just how much people in this province still resent the current state of the Riders and Chamblin’s role in creating the mess.  I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised. People of this province are notorious bad for holding grudges. Try mentioning the name Tony Gabriel in a Saskatchewan crowd if you need evidence of that.

We have had coaches before that have failed miserably at their job (names like Jim Daley and Greg Marshall come to mind). But failure alone does not constitute douchebaggery. I think what elevated Chamblin’s failures to award worthy douchebaggery levels was his defiant/confrontational attitude and his refusal to shoulder any of the blame. Some fo the more notable incidents (not that you need reminding)

- Turfing the beloved, highly regarded and defensively successful Richie Hall in favour of whatever abomination of a defense Chamblin instituted in his place and not even having the decency to formally dismiss Hall but rather offer him a menial assistant role and force Richie to be the one to leave.

- Filling his roster with declining veterans while benching talented new recruits like Roosevelt… and then later trying to claim he was actively trying to make the Riders younger.

- The familiar “I don’t throw the ball, I don’t catch” line which trying to justify the mounting loses.

- Finally, I really think the whole Tino Sunseri thing was what turned Chamblin from embattled coach to the most hated man the province outside of the proponents of daylight savings time. Nothing seemed to unite a province whose opinions tend to be wide ranging quite like a defiant coach forcing a poor excuse for a QB on a fan base that had already witnessed enough crap to fill 5 seasons. 

Previous Winners: Chris Jones, Jon Cornish x2, Henry Burris, Dwight Anderson, Mike Kelly, Jason Jimenez, Rob Murphy

Most Insulted Sports Figure
When you have a year as crappy as the Riders, there are a lot of insults to go around. Given the sheer amount of profanity and complaints I uttered it was admittedly hard narrowing it down to one that stood out from the others. I likely taught my kids a few new words that probably shouldn’t be in their vocabulary.

For the second year in a row, I’ve decided to give this award to a group as opposed to an individual. That group is the Roughrider secondary. Our collective inability to cover the pass was almost comical… almost. The 2015 Rider brand of pass protection was less effective in terms of a protection method than “don’t worry, I’ll pull out”. We were rarely within an area code of the intended receiver and when we were, we epically failed to make the tackle (or in the case of Junior Mertile, even failed to attempt a tackle). Had I learned 3 new languages I still would not have known enough curse words to do justice to our pass coverage.  

The only redeeming thing is that there is nowhere to go but up. It can possibly get worse… Right? …. Right?

Previous Winners: Any Rider QB not named Durant, Pat Neufeld, Chris Getzlaf, Ryan Dinwiddie, Jim Daley, Michael Bishop x 2, Marcel Bellefeuille

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