Friday, November 23, 2012
GREY CUP RODSERVATIONS
* The party has started. It was rather quiet around here on Wednesday but by Thursday Grey Cup celebrations were in full swing. Downtown nightclubs and the various festivals were packed as football fans from across the country came to celebrate the game. Thursday night we were treated to a splendid time at the CFLPA Pro Players Party at Gretzky's on Blue Jays Way. Congratulations to CFLPA President Mike Morreale for putting on a spectacular event.
* The betting line has narrowed for Sunday's Grey Cup between Calgary and Toronto at Rogers Centre. The Stampeders are now favoured by 1.5-points, down from 2-points earlier in the week. Wonder what prompted the change?
* My radio partner Carm Carteri is always fascinated by the accuracy of the oddsmakers. The Stampeders were favoured by 5.5-points for the 2012 WSF against the Riders and wound up winning 36-30.
* Rider quarterback Darian Durant and his brother Justin of the NFL's Detroit Lions will be in attendance for Grey Cup beginning Friday night.
* 2007 CFL Coach of the Year and two-time Rider Grey Cup champion Kent Austin will be in Toronto for the festivities as well.
* With the Argos in the Grey Cup, demand for tickets is skyrocketing. Scalpers are reportedly asking, and getting, $400-$500 per ticket.
* The Argos aren't front page news this week (the Blue Jays are) but they are the talk of the town nonetheless. During a Thursday stroll downtown I overheard two city workers in orange vests discussing Sunday's game. "Toronto is so starved for a winner," one guy said. "If these guys win on Sunday they'll be heroes."
* It takes 58 seconds for the CN Tower elevator to go bottom-to-top.
* On Thursday I mentioned my visit with TSN's Paul Lapolice, the former Blue Bomber coach, at Argos' practice. I sauntered up to him on the sidelines and we chatted for 15-20 minutes. As expected, he's absolutely thrilled with his "Coach's Playbook" segment on TSN and would consider a future in the media one day. However, at 42 years of age, he's got SO much to accomplish as a football coach. Also, he's still bitter about how things ended in Winnipeg and doesn't want that to be his legacy. How did he respond to the Riders' 52-0 rout of the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic? "I celebrated with a Corona in the hot tub," Lapolice smiled. "And I thought to myself 'It's not my problem anymore'."
* Roughrider player rep Mike McCullough is in Toronto with his wonderful wife Laura. Thursday was spent in CFLPA meetings for Mike.
* Interesting note: Stamps coach John Hufnagel was the quarterbacks coach for the Cleveland Browns in 1999 when Argos coach Scott Milanovich was a Cleveland Browns quarterback.
* TSN analyst Milt Stegall called Stamps quarterback Kevin Glenn the "Rodney Dangerfield of the CFL - no respect" this week.
* McCullough reported the Fairmont Royal York is "insane" this week. It truly is the nerve centre of CFL types. Personally I'm quite enjoying the Delta Chelsea. It's a $10 cabride from Rogers Centre and a lot more quiet than what's going on on Front Street. It's a good retreat.
* If I ever had to point to one guy and say "That's a broadcaster", it would be Fan 590's Stormin' Norm Rumack. He's been doing the midnight-5:30am shift on that all-sports radio station for 20 years. How does it fill it? "It's a piece of cake!" Norm said this week. "It's nothing for me to do a 40-minute monologue."
* During an interview with a Toronto radio station this week I was told "This is an NFL city". I'll have to say it again; sorry, but you don't have an NFL team.
* During our visit on the Wolf 104.9 Thursday morning, Michael Ball was discussing the blizzard Regina has endured this week and saying a similar scenario in 2013 at this time will ruin Grey Cup week. He's lobbying for the CFL season to be moved up a month to start June 1. Sorry, not gonna happen.
* Argo coach Scott Milanovich gave his team one hour - just one hour - to enjoy Grey Cup festivities this week and it was at Tuesday's team pep rally at Yonge-Dundas Square. Other than that they've been in lockdown mode.
* Regina's Scott Flory has not yet decided if he'll return for a 15th season with the Montreal Alouettes. The offensive guard has spent his entire CFL career with the Als despite that 2004 snafu when he signed with the Riders but reneged. He thought Roy and Danny were trying to pull a fast one on him.
* The Toronto Sun wrote this week that TSN's Duane Forde is in the running for the vacant Assistant GM's position in Winnipeg.
* Speaking of comings and goings, I'm told former Rider coach Greg Marshall has received a buyout for the final year of his contract with Saskatchewan and is now a free agent to sign with whichever team gives him an offer.
* RUMOUR: Alex Smith, who parted ways with the Riders after 16 seasons as an assistant coach last week, will resurface in the CFL in 2013, possibly in Hamilton.
* Alouettes defensive coordinator Jeff Reinebold signed a one-year contract last off-season. The deal expires December 31.
* Toronto sun writer Terry Koshan wrote Thursday that someone with the Argos should tell defensive coordinator Chris Jones that "He's not bigger than the game". Koshan was unimpressed that Jones refused to talk to the media at Wednesday's East Division Champions breakfast.
* From Kirk Penton of the Sun Media newspaper chain: "As with every event during Grey Cup week, there was a handful of Riders fans in attendance (at the Argo pep rally) dressed in green from head-to-toe. You gotta hand it to their fans." NOTE - Penton is from Moosimin, SK.
* 49-year old Damon Allen told the National Post this week he feels he could still play in the CFL.
* That's all! Talk to you at 5:00 from the CN Tower!