Monday, July 13, 2009


Anger Management in the CFL

There is a good chance that the wonderful wacky world of the Canadian Football League may end the season in the same manner that it has ended for the past several years---with the Hamilton Tiger Cats and the Toronto Argonauts struggling to keep up with the Montreal Alouettes.

The Als quarterback Anthony Calvillo looks as strong as ever, guiding his team to victories in the first two regular season games.

There is no quarterback controversy in Toronto this year, as the coaching staff has anointed veteran Kerry Joseph as the number one starter, and rightly so. The Tiger Cats are going with Quinton Porter, and he rewarded them with a victory last weekend in British Columbia.

The result of all of this is that the Argos and the Ticats are deadlocked at one win apiece.

The crew from the Belleville Minor Football League caught the game last weekend at the Rogers Centre. For the young fans, there was a little bit of everything that the CFL has to offer.

The Argos jumped out to an early lead, and looked unstoppable; however, the Rough Riders from Saskatchewan clawed back into the game, and, at one point in the first half outscored the Argos 30 to 3. As a result, the game was never in doubt after the first half. Rough Rider quarterback Darian Durant was instrumental in picking apart the Argo defence, and found outstanding Canadian slotback Andy Fantuz on a couple of key situations.

The Argos did manage to put up some scores late in the game, to no avail. Way too little, way too late.

Rookie coach of the Argonauts, Bart Andrus, was none too happy with the team’s performance. Kerry Joseph was off target far too many times; players were overthrown, or watched the balls skip in their direction. A couple of key passes were right on target, only to have receivers trying to cradle the ball, rather than catch it in their hands. Result? More incomplete passes. Andrus also added later, “Our return game is non-existent. We had too many turnovers.”

The most crippling factor in the game, for the Argos, was the damage done by unnecessary penalties. Even in their first game in Hamilton, the Double Blue from Toronto played far more aggressively than need be, and several infractions were either missed or overlooked. It happens.

Many of these bizarre infractions reflected a lack of discipline, and some serious anger management difficulties. There is also some speculation that the behaviour may be derived from steroid use.

Steroids are banned by all major sports organizations: the International Olympic Committee, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, even the WWE, the professional wrestling organization. You will notice that the Canadian Football League is not listed with that group. The reason is because there are no regulations banning steroids in the CFL!

A quick check of the latest research revealed that the evidence linking steroid use and aberrant behaviour is not overwhelming, but somewhat conclusive. Common sense tells us that prolonged steroid use does result in bizarre behaviour, and poor health.

The number of incidents involving CFL players who are completely out of control would decrease with the ban.

Coach Andrus told his post game conference that he has no patience for selfish penalties that cost the team. “That’s going to end. I pulled guys out. I told their position coaches to keep them off the field.”

In the second half, there were far fewer penalties. Coach Andrus noted: “They had decided to listen.” He then challenged the team; “Do you want to be a street fighter, a WWE wrestler, or a professional football player? Guys that are hurting the team with penalties are not going to be here.”

I imagine the practices this week will be quite crisp. The Argos head west to Calgary for a Friday night tilt. The Stampeders have been corralled in their first two games, and have had 82 points scored on them, by far the worst in the CFL. Ripe for pickings? We shall see.

James Hurst

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