10 NOTES & QUOTES
What's more disturbing; the fact the NFL is the most-watched football league in Canada right now, or the fact the CFL is publicizing it?
PR people are telling me this morning that those three games combined totalled 899,000 in that timeslot. So what? The CFL was on at the same time and we got beaten.
This is how the ratings looked:
I Tweeted a note at Mr. Senra saying I'd be a lot more excited about the ratings if the CFL had come out on top. It wasn't very long ago that they did, week after week.
On Monday's SportsCage on 620 CKRM I noted that this CFL vs NFL debate amongst fans and media is silly and that the ratings will ultimately demonstrate which league's winning in this country.
And then ... this.
I'd love to be a fly on the wall at the CFL's off-season meetings to see how they're going to reverse this trend.
2 - FURTHERMORE: The most-watched CFL game last week was Saturday night's Calgary at Edmonton game (780,000 viewers) followed by Saskatchewan at Winnipeg (701,000), Hamilton at Toronto (497,000) and Montreal at B.C. (472,000).
In 2009, these were the CFL's ratings on Labour Day Weekend:
Blue Bombers at Roughriders: 1,340,000
Eskimos at Stampeders: 1,083,000
Lions at Alouettes: 914,000
Argonauts at Tiger-Cats, 879,000
Up until a couple of years ago, the NFL barely even rated on Sunday afternoons in this country.
A simple tweaking of the CFL rules followed by an effective marketing campaign can turn this thing back in the CFL's favour.
However changing the league's logo clearly has done nothing to advance the product. In fact it's probably just confused them.
3 - HOW'S THE RIDER BRAND NOW?: Things seem to be stabilizing around here and that's a good thing. Khalif Mitchell is gone without ever having played a game as a Roughrider (it's like it never even happened), the Ottawa RedBlacks were fined for a roster violation and the Calgary Stampeders have had a player suspended for PED use.
Does this mean that people will stop bashing the Saskatchewan Roughriders?
That's what we'll debate today on the SportsCage: if you had soured on the Riders because of all these things, are you now coming back?
4 - GAME DETAILS: The Roughriders host the Eskimos in Sunday's annual Plaza of Honor Game (2:30 pm, TSN, CKRM Network) at which Rider greats Ivan Gutfriend and Matt Dominguez will be honoured following their induction on Friday. Oddsmaker Bodog has the Eskimos favoured by 4.5-points in this one. Meanwhile the forecast calls for sunshine, wind and 19 degrees Celsius.
It's also the Roughriders' Canadian Forces Appreciation Day.
The featured alumni at Sunday's game will be Mike Maurer, Paul Hickie, Matt Dominguez, Ivan Gutfriend and Jeff Bentrim.
5 - STEADY EDDIE: Speaking of the military and law enforcement, I've pretty much stayed out of the Colin Kaepernick scandal since I'm a Saskatchewan farm kid and have no idea what minorities suffer in the USA. However former Rider punter Eddie Johnson - a veteran of nine NFL teams who hails from Anaheim, CA - had these thoughts on any NFL player who thumbs his nose at the Star Spangled Banner:
God Bless America. If you don't like this country then leave. Don't let the doorknob hit you on your ass on the way out. #americanflag
And now you're not shocked that Eddie and I always meet up whenever I'm through Southern California.
6 - JIVIN' IVAN: Ivan Gutfriend spent 38 years with the Roughriders, the majority of them as Head Therapist. He gave a fantastic interview on In The Huddle on Access 7 this week where he discussed his Rider stories and offered his thoughts on the state of the game today. He said there are way, way more injuries in football now than ever before (which is odd because the current focus is supposed to be on player safety). Ivan feels the #1 culprit is over-training in the off-season and pro football players never really give their bodies a rest in between seasons.
Something's up, and all the efforts to protect these players can't save them from themselves.
7 - RIDER INJURIES: Rider fan Craig Radke in Edmonton constructed the following graph tracking the Roughriders' injuries this season compared to other teams in the CFL. The Riders are by far the team hurt the most by injuries:
"The importance of continuity and staying healthy in this league cannot be understated.
The graph shows an unmistakable trend this season where the healthy teams are succeeding, and the unhealthy teams are struggling. On one end, Calgary's only got 4 men on the 6-game and they're rolling because they've got that continuity, especially on the all-important O-line. On the other end, the Riders have 18 men on the 6-game and and it shows in their inability to string together a 60 minute game. I thought it was uncanny how the other 7 teams follow the same general trend between the two extremes.
I'm not saying the Riders would have 8 wins if they'd have been able to stay healthy, but this graph certainly shows that the injury story is more than just a "cheap excuse". In my mind, this graph alone should silence the Jones haters suggesting that he can't find enough talent to fill in the holes he created in the offseason, or he's in over his head. Considering the slate of injuries he's had to deal with at some key starting positions across the roster, and considering that 8 of our 10 games have been close, I'd say he's done an admirable job. Personally I'm excited to see what this team can do when healthy."
8 - NOAH'S ARC: Regina Rams quarterback Noah Picton threw a lot of them in last week's win over Manitoba and for the second consecutive week, the heir to the Picton Dairy Queen throne has been named the Canada West Offensive Player of the Week. One week ago today Noah set school records for completions (40) and pass attempts (60) while throwing for a career-high 499 yards and four touchdowns in the school's victory over the Bisons.
The 1-1 Rams are at UBC this Saturday night on 620 CKRM. Mitchell Blair will have the call.
From what I understand, the October 1 game between the Rams and Saskatchewan Huskies at New Mosaic Stadium is already soldout. I received word that I'll be part of the Access/Shaw broadcast of that historic game throughout Western Canada and that's fantastic.
People are clamouring for the City of Regina and Regina Rams to open up more seating for the game.
We'll see if that happens.
9 - MORE ON THE RAMS: The Regina Rams Alumni will be roasting former running back Neal Hughes on Saturday, October 8 at the Victoria Club. Tickets are just $25 and everyone is welcome. Call or text Larry Mueller for tickets at 306-539-9541.
When we find out who the celebrity roasters are, I'll pass it along.
10 - WORLD CUP OF HOCKEY: It's been weird to turn on the TV and watch hockey so soon in September and even more strange to see the players actually trying. This variation on the old Canada Cup has been getting the universal thumbs-down from many around here but I've found it fascinating and enjoyable. So too have many Canadians, as 903,000 tuned in for Friday's Canada-USA game in Columbus.
However who's idea was it for Canada to play Russia in Pittsburgh last night? Near the end of the game there were tons of empty seats down near the ice at Consol Energy Centre.
Either way, it's been great for the game and I'm all for it. Can't wait for the games to actually mean something.
THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY! SEE YOU ON THE RADIO AT 4:00 PM