Is it Friday already? I guess it was a short week. First off let's start with some photos:
We got a note this week from Rider special teams coordinator Craig Dickenson, a faithful reader of this blog. He asked if we can pass along this info:
Can you give this a little plug? It is DD and me holding the box of soap and shampoo the team collected this season. Each player saved whatever soap and shampoo they did not use when on the road this year and put it in this box. We ended up donating the soap and shampoo to a woman's shelter called "my aunt's place". I would encourage any and all teams that do a lot of travel to try and collect soap and donate it to worthwhile places.
What a great guy!
What a blessed couple of weeks it has been (despite the Rider losses)! Last week I got to meet Minnesota Vikings radio play-by-play man Paul Allen and on Thursday it was an honour to meet Sportsnet Blue Jays analyst Gregg Zaun and catch up with old friend Jamie Campbell of the Jays broadcast crew. They were in Regina scouting hotels for the 2013 Gregg Zaun Grey Cup Bash and I hooked them up with the fine folks at the Ramada. Here's a shot I took at Fibber McGee's pub Thursday afternoon. From left: The Sherminator, Zaun, T-Sack and Campbell. You can get tickets to this year's Zaun Grey Cup Bash at www.ticketscene.ca. Just search "Gregg Zaun". I've already bought mine.
So many people have asked what Gregg Zaun's really like. The above photo gives you an idea. What you see is what you get with Gregg Zaun. His Twitter bio says it all: 16 year Major League veteran, currently an Analyst for Rogers Sportsnet, Millionaire, Playboy and Philanthropist #Zauntourage
Despite being a Los Angeles product, Zaun is a dyed-in-the-wool Riders fan. He fell in love with the franchise at the 2009 Grey Cup when Campbell took him there for a getaway. As word grew of his love for the team, the Roughriders sent him jersey with his name and Jays number on it.
The 620 CKRM Rider Pep Band got us in the Grey Cup spirit this week by forwarding a photo from the 2011 Grey Cup in Vancouver, and the Harvard Broadcasting hospitality suite. Here is Global TV and Sports Cage co-host Derek "Duke" Meyers performing with the band. By the way you have to catch Meyers' Green and Grey series during the Global News chronicling the Riders' Grey Cup history. Now that's how you do a documentary.
And lastly here's a random photo of Rams great Josh Shaw (the recipient of the famed 'Darryl Leason fake kneeldown pass') at an event in Winnipeg Thursday night. Here Shaw poses with a Don Cherry impersonator. This guy performed at a Regina Pats Sportsman's Dinner a few years ago. Oh my.
* Thursday night former Roughrider Marcus Thigpen became the first Miami Dolphin ever to have a punt return touchdown and kickoff return touchdown in the same season. Thigpen's Dolphins lost 19-14 in Buffalo. Of course Thigpen made history in the CFL with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last year when he became the first player to score a touchdown five different ways. I'm sure if the Roughriders could do it all over again, they wouldn't have chosen Dominique Dorsey over Thigpen.
* The theme of the week on our various TV and radio shows was Was The Rider Season A Success? We posed the question to our array of pundits and this is some of their reaction:
Arash Madani: "Absolutely. They had to start ALL over again."
Bob Hughes: "Yes but they have a long ways to go."
Carm Carteri: "No, because they lost in Calgary."
* Judging by their comments to the media this week, I'd guess Coach Corey Chamblin would label the 2012 season a success while GM Brendan Taman would not. Taman basically stated on Thursday that they fell short of their goals and had a losing record although he was buoyed by the fact they made the playoffs.
* Going into the season I predicted a 9-9 season plus a playoff berth. Had they achieved 9-9 but missed the playoffs, I'd deem it a failure however even though they went 8-10 but made the post-season, I'd call the season a success. Either way they were highly entertaining from start to finish.
* Rider historian John Lynch pegged Sunday's semifinal loss in Calgary as the fourth-most painful loss in Rider history. The others are 1) 2009 Grey Cup, 2) 1976 Grey Cup, 3) 1970 Western Division playoffs.
* Heartbreak. That's what we're all about. By the way I've never understood the annoying phrase "The sun will come up tomorrow!" as it pertains to sports. So what? If the Riders never win another game in their life, the sun will come up. WE COULD LOSE THE TEAM and the sun would still come up. So what?! It makes no sense to me.
* Will Corey Chamblin be among the three finalists for CFL Coach of the Year?
* Happy birthday to Rider alum Cole Bergquist!
* Last year Paul Lapolice was a finalist and eight months later he was on the unemployment line. I haven't seen Lapo as a TSN analyst yet but I plan to on Sunday. I'll be interested to see how he feels about having to be critical as a TV analyst. He wasn't too pleased with my critical column during Grey Cup last week but perhaps he'll see it differently now that he's on the dark side.
* Don't forget 620 CKRM will carry both division finals on Sunday complete with a 90-minute postgame show hosted by Michael Ball.
* As of mid-week, 42,000 tickets had been sold for Sunday's EDF between the Alouettes and Argonauts at 55,000-seat Olympic Stadium.
* Mike Beamish of the Vancouver Sun gives the coaching edge to Calgary in Sunday's WDF between the Stampeders and Lions. Part of the reason is Hufnagel is 13-6 this year without his top quarterback for most of it. Now he's got to go with his back-up again since Drew Tate has a broken arm. Let's see what Huff has up his sleeve.
* Tweet of the Week comes from former Argo play-by-play man Jamie Stein: "@jamiestein: Drew Tate named CFL player of the week, but forgets why he won."
* It's times like this that I think about Ticats play-by-play man Rick Zamprien of 900 CHML in Hamilton. Earlier in the season I blogged that Rick must be wondering if the Ticats will ever get back to the Grey Cup during his time in the booth. I believe it's six seasons and counting for Rick and the Ticats' Grey Cup drought stretches back to 1999 -- the longest in the league. Have no fear Rick! I had to wait eight seasons before getting to the dance.
* Great find by Global's Derek Meyers in Lance Frazier as an analyst. The former Rider DB and Grey Cup champ is working in the oilfield making big dough but he's interested in getting into the media. That's odd because he always told me he'd like to get into personnel but perhaps he can do both. Class guy.
* It was great to catch up with former Rider DB Tad Kornegay in Calgary last week at the Keg in the Westin. He said "Hey just because I'm not part of the family no more doesn't mean you can't write me! When you coming back to New York?" Maybe this spring.
|With Tad in Times Square in 2010|
* The Grey Cup Train pulls into Exhibition Place in Toronto on Saturday, concluding its nationwide trip. Tour Coordinator Carley Smith told the Edmonton Sun her favourite stop from coast-to-coast was Yorkton, Saskatchewan. She said she was presented with a baby pig, which is a Yorkton tradition which goes back to 1952!
* We learned this week that when the train was in Regina, Rider receiver Chris Getzlaf showed up at the tour stop in cognito and waited an hour and a half to get in. Chris was recognized by tour officials and asked to sign his locker inside.
* The new Ottawa CFL franchise will hold a name-the-team contest in the next few weeks. I'm told it likely won't be the Lumberjacks or Capitals, which have been rumoured. It will likely start with an "R" so they can use the old Rough Rider logo for retro purposes.
* Ottawa businessman Jeff Hunt is an owner of both the Ottawa CFL team and the OHL's 67s. In an interview this week he said he wants the CFL team's logo to connect with the youth population, but not too young. He says the 67's "wheelhouse" is kids aged 4-11 but, "that's not football". Interesting. If Hunt ever hosted a seminar on sports marketing, I'd be the first to buy a ticket.
* Sometimes you never know what your audience is going to grab ahold of. Our idea to adopt an NFL team on the Sports Cage for the rest of the season has gone nuts! We've had a ton of reaction since deciding to go with the Minnesota Vikings because of the obvious connections. This is going to be a lot of fun!
* We learned this week that Redskins coach Mike Shanahan had some cash and his passport stolen from the locker room during a road game in Pittsburgh last month. I could write a book on locker room thefts.
* The sports world is abuzz with this week's Marlins-Blue Jays trade, being called "one of the biggest trades in MLB history" however Fox Sports Radio's Dan Patrick says "Whoa, whoa, whoa. The Blue Jays had 73 wins this year while the Marlins had 69! Let's not get too excited". Dan's right. It looks like Toronto is getting a bunch of overpaid underachievers.
* I'm sure Blue Jays boss Paul Beeston would prefer if TSN could find some other stock footage of him talking with GM Alex Anthopoulos when he's not carrying a plate of food and stuffing his face in a luxury suite. They show it time after time.
* The Detroit Pistons got off to the worst start in franchise history at 0-8. Wouldn't you know it? We're going to see them play the Mavericks in Dallas in two weeks on the Sports Cage Marlin Travel Ultimate Sports Trip II!! Woohoo! Always good to watch history makers.
* Meanwhile the AJHL's Brooks Bandits are off to a 20-0-0-0 start.
* rodpedersen.com will not be entered in the 2012 Canadian Blog Awards which are on now. Somebody else can win this year.
* This blog will be posting columns from Associated Press writers Tim Dahlberg and Jim Litke over the winter because they produce award-winning stuff. Hey why not, I'm paying for it! Please give them a read and give them a chance!
* Today's Press Box Sports Bar Friday lunch buffet menu courtesy Chef Laura:
Sweet & Sour Meatballs
Baked Macaronia & Cheese
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
THAT'S ALL! SEE YOU IN THE CAGE AT 5:00 FOR FOUR SEASONS FOOTBALL FRIDAY!