Monday, July 06, 2009


Canadian Football League 2009

The 2009 Canadian Football League season opened up last week on Canada Day. Truly a nice bit of marketing genius.

Canadians like to spend the day out and about. Many of us head to the local park for festivities: a little music, chip wagon grub, Canada Day birthday cake, some refreshment, and a handful of Rolaids.

This year, many of us settled back into the Lazy Boy for an evening of football, and a double-header at that. The Argos travelled down the Q. E. W. to face the Tiger Cats, and the Alouettes went West to meet the Stampeders in Calgary. The Argos started the season with a 30-17 win over the Tiger Cats, while the Alouettes won on the road in Calgary.

Both games had their moments, quite often dealing with football. There were plenty of flags thrown, missed assignments, dropped ball by receivers, quarterback sacks, and tributes to the late Michael Jackson.

Arland Bruce III romped into the Ticats end zone, ripped off his helmet , shoulder pads and sweater, and proceeded to lie in state in the end zone, as a tribute to “MJ”. It has been described as tacky, unprofessional, bush, and idiotic. The league fined him an “undisclosed” amount of money. He was chastised in the American sports media on two excellent talk shows: “Around The Horn”, and “Pardon The Interruption”.

That followed his “Spiderman” mask routine last year. Advice to Bruce: Cut the nonsense. Play the game hard. Drop the “III” after your name. It adds nothing to your persona. Bruce is an outstanding football player, and could be a perennial all star in the CFL for years to come.

Jamal Robertson had an outstanding season opener for the Argos. He excelled in the first half, and helped the Argos build up a 20-0 lead in the first quarter. He ended up with 134 yards on the ground, and 153 yards receiving. Bryan Crawford scampered for 20 yards to sustain an early drive. But from that point on, the Argos survived on their air game, and several breaks.

An attempted Ticat field goal hit the crossbar at a critical time in the third quarter. Hamilton tackled poorly throughout the game. They did end up on the short end of the stick on a few dubious calls. The Hamilton squad has started the last several seasons poorly, winning twice and losing twenty-one games in June and July. Yikes!

The “Game Stats” sheet from the CFL lists one quarterback at the helm for each team. That speaks volumes for both organizations. There was quarterback mayhem in both cities last year. Kerry Joseph caught the snaps for the Argos, and Quinton Porter did the same for the Tiger Cats. Both played reasonably well, as it was the first game of the season, following only two exhibition games.

The Saskatchewan Rough Riders outlasted the British Columbia Lions 28-24. There were fifteen turnovers in the game, a nightmare for both coaches. Rough Rider quarterback Darian Durant was 18 for 32. His favourite receiver, Weston Dressler, had seven catches for 154 yards.

The Green Riders will be at the Rogers Centre next Saturday to face the Boatmen. It is an afternoon game, the first home game for the Argos. The Belleville Minor Football League has just completed its season, and is running a bus up to the game, as are the Quinte Home Builders. There are tickets available for the trip. Give me a call at 613-399-2278 for tickets and details.

The Tiger Cats head out to Vancouver to face the Lions in their next game. Both teams will be looking for their first win.

In perspective, the season winds up in late November, for the Grey Cup game. There will be a lot of football between now and then. The CFL always has its work cut out for them trying to grab headlines in competition with so many other sports and entertainment options.

There is a car race this coming weekend. The Jays will be licking their wounds after a devastating weekend in New York. Soccer, NHL free agent signings, Wimbledon, NFL pre-season, NBA signings. The list is almost endless.

But the CFL is our game, and worth the attention.

James Hurst

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