Sunday, November 29, 2015
2015 GREY CUP COVERAGE
A BALL SCANDAL
WINNIPEG - Kickers from Edmonton and Ottawa expressed concern Saturday about the ball they will be booting in the 103rd Grey Cup.
"I just heard this morning they're trying new balls out for Grey Cup,'' said Edmonton's Sean Whyte, who handles the Eskimo kicking duties along with Grant Shaw. "And all the equipment guys are saying they are bad.
"The balls for the offence, they're all the same. But they decided to change the kicking balls, I guess. They're a little slick.''
Ottawa's Chris Milo also was apprehensive. "It's going to be a big change .... We'll just kind of have to adapt,'' he said.
"The balls that we're going to have, if I can make a comparison, are kind of like what a basketball feels like - where you have all the dimples on it. That's what it feels like, which is a bit weird.''
He pointed to the scuffed ball a teammate was carrying in practice - "They're nice and broken in. They're soft. They feel pretty good.''
There appears to be some confusion about the ball protocol, however.
Glen Johnson, the CFL's vice-president of officiating, says the plan for Sunday's championship game is essentially the same as league games for this season and last.
The teams will each bring their own balls to use on offence. They can practise with those balls beforehand, bringing them to CFL officials 90 minutes before kickoff.
The team balls are tested prior to the game to ensure they meet "a new ball standard,'' according to Johnson.
Each team's balls - Johnson says they will each have about a dozen - will be clearly marked as their own.
Those balls remain under the control of league officials once they take possession of them before the match.
The league will contribute 24 balls to be used in kicking situations during the Investors Group Field showdown.
The league balls are "conditioned,'' said Johnson. "So it's not like we take them out of the box.''
During the regular season, the home team normally does that conditioning for the kicking balls. For Grey Cup, the league is using the Blue Bombers equipment staff to handle it, making it no different than a normal game according to Johnson.
Allowing teams to use their own balls on offence gives quarterbacks a chance to play with balls that are familiar to them, as long as they meet standards.
The league has more game balls in reserve, in case more are needed.
THE WINNER GETS...
WINNIPEG - Players on the winning team in Sunday's Grey Cup between the Ottawa Redblacks and Edmonton Eskimos will each collect $16,000.
Those on the losing side will pick up $8,000 apiece.
The player-judged MVP in the 103rd CFL championship game will earn $10,000. The Most Valuable Canadian gets $5,000.
GAME DAY FORECAST
WINNIPEG - The forecast calls for minus-six Celsius for kickoff of the 103rd Grey Grey.
That's about average for Winnipeg in late November. It will be cold but not deep freeze cold.
The Weather Network says it will feel like minus-11 but there is only a 10 per cent chance of precipitation for the championship game between the Edmonton Eskimos and Ottawa Redblacks.
The forecast also calls for 12 k.p.h. wind.
The two teams practised under bright sunshine Saturday at Investors Group Field. It was minus-nine in the break between the two workouts.
Kickoff is slated for 6:38 p.m. ET Sunday.
The 1991 Grey Cup in Winnipeg is one of the coldest on record with a game-time temperature of minus-17.
BURRIS, REILLY, READY FOR KICKOFF
The Ottawa Redblacks and Edmonton Eskimos held their final practices of the season Saturday, making last-minute preparations for their showdown Sunday night at Investors Group Field. And for the opposing quarterbacks, the CFL championship game can't start soon enough.
"We've been watching so much film right now,'' said Burris, the Ottawa quarterback who Thursday was named the CFL's outstanding player. "We've been over the game plan numerous times and it's time to get on the field and put it all to work now.''
Reilly, who has led Edmonton to nine straight wins since returning to the starting lineup, agreed.
"We've been here for long enough, we're ready to get on the field and get this thing started,'' he said. "We were ready to play Monday but you've got to go through the process, you've got to go through your weekly preparation.
"But if you're not ready to go now, you won't be.''
Ottawa also comes into the title game on a nice roll, having won five straight.
The Grey Cup game is indeed a matchup of the best teams in the East and West Divisions. Ottawa (12-6) finished atop the Eastern conference after winning just two games in its inaugural 2014 season while Edmonton (14-4) finished tied with Calgary for the league's best record but secured top spot in the standings after winning the season series with the Stampeders.
Burris's 93-yard TD strike to Greg Ellingson with just over a minute remaining earned the Redblacks a thrilling 35-28 home win over Hamilton in the East Division final, securing Ottawa its first Grey Cup berth since '81. Edmonton dispatched Calgary in the West finale to reach the CFL title game for the first time since 2005.
That's also the last time Edmonton won the Grey Cup while Ottawa's last league championship came in '76. Tony Gabriel's late TD grab rallied the former Rough Riders to a memorable 23-20 victory over Saskatchewan.
A sellout gathering of 36,634 will attend Sunday's game. The contest was officially sold out Friday but will be the second-smallest Grey Cup crowd since '75.
Sunday's forecast calls for a game-time temperature of -6 C, according to The Weather Network. That's about average for this time of year in the Manitoba capital but will feel more like -11 C.
There's only a 10 per cent chance of precipitation but of more importance to the two teams will be the 12 kilometre-an-hour wind. The '91 Grey Cup in Winnipeg was one of the coldest on record with a game-time temperature of -17 C.
Spectators at Investors Group Field can also look forward to being warmed by the pre-game and half-time entertainment.
Juno Award-winning country star Dean Brody headlines the pre-game show after recently concluding a 22-city, 7,000-kilometre national tour. He'll head to Nashville early next year to perform at The Grand Ole Opry.
Grammy-nominated rock band Fall Out Boy will take the stage at halftime.
The Grey Cup game will be broadcast in the U.S. on ESPN2, which also includes a worldwide audience in Australia, the United Kingdom and Ireland, South America, the Carribean and Pacific Rim. Additionally, the contest will be available to over 150 other countries via YouTube.
Both teams looked loose and comfortable Saturday. The Eskimos players broke into dance during their walk-through while Campbell kept things light during his media sit-down with Burris.
First the Redblacks coach quipped his 40-year-old quarterback will play another 10 years before giving Burris a shout-out for singing a verse from Billy Joel's ``We Didn't Start The Fire.''
"All right, a Billy Joel reference,'' he said.
Jones, for one, was pleased to see his team's light-hearted approach.
"We found out last year we don't play good when we're all tense and tight and nervous,'' said Jones, whose team lost 43-18 to Calgary in last year's West final. "(At walkthrough) we're ready to do our work and everybody zones in ... but we try to create an atmosphere that's a lot more relaxed.''