From a Holiday Inn in Secaucus, New Jersey, here comes the first Monday Morning Goalie of 2017.
Happy New Year!
Before we get to the usual Monday column, here's a photoblog of our New Year's trip to the New York-New Jersey area which included stops at MetLife Stadium (above), Times Square, Central Park and all the great New York hostspots.
MetLife Stadium, home of the NY Jets and NY Giants. There are some cool facts on it below, but it certainly had the feel of New Mosaic Stadium ..
The Giants Legacy Room. Celebrate the franchise's four Super Bowls or get lost in the Hall of Fame busts of New York football legends ..
The home radio booth, and home of the Giants' Bob Papa. It's identical to the home radio booth at New Mosaic Stadium in dimension and design.
The last time we were here, we didn't set foot in the famed Central Park. This time, we spent a whole day there on Sunday. It was well worth it..
One of the highlights of my trip, a tour of Sirius/XM's NFL Radio with host Zig Fraccasi. Long-time listeners of that channel will know he's a pretty big deal ..
This is mid-morning host Howard David and this is how the conversation went in the NFL radio studio:
ZIG: "Rod, this is Howard David. He used to be the Voice of the Dolphins."
HOWARD: "And the New York Jets. And Monday Night Football. And Sunday Night Football."
ME: "Cool! Can I get a photo?"
HOWARD: "If you must."
He was the classic crotchety old radio guy. I loved it!
Unfortunately this was as close as we could get to Howard Stern's studio. He has an entire wing of the radio station (on the 36th Floor of 1221 Avenue of the Americas) to himself, but was on holidays and won't allow anyone near his studio when he's gone.
Why? Because one time when he was gone, somebody was getting a tour and messed with his stuff. That was it! No more.
With my bride on New Year's Eve in Times Square. It was a fantastic event!
I'll put the rest of the photos on my Facebook page.
Again, HAPPY NEW YEAR!
10 MONDAY ODDS N' ENDS
1 - END THE SILENCE: I sincerely hope that when the CFL gets back to work on Tuesday, they do so with a vengeance. The league has been virtually dormant since the Grey Cup ended, 38 days ago. I'm not sure whose brilliant P.R. strategy it was for an entire league to drop out of sight for over a month, but it's going to do far more harm than good. It'll show up in the bottom line, guaranteed.
We are in the midst of Bowl Season, the NFL Playoffs are starting up, and the CFL is asleep.
In fact right now, the CFL is averaging about one news story per week. Last week it was Ed Gainey re-signing in Saskatchewan and the week before it was the Ottawa RedBlacks retaining their entire coaching staff.
That's just not enough for a pro football league. It's been a public relations nightmare and a fiasco for a league seemingly lost in the dark.
And I don't think the teams will like it if us media outlets have to resort to creating the news which I'm about to do once I get back in studio on 620 CKRM's SportsCage.
2 - DURANT UPDATE: Last week before coming down here I asked the Darian Durant camp if there was anything new in the contract talks with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
"Zilch," was the reply I got.
TSN's Gary Lawless reported on Thursday that the Riders and Durant were going to take a breather over the Holidays and resume talks in the New Year. Excuse me, but take a breather from what?
They haven't talked since at least November 5.
3 - JONES NAMED #1 NEWSMAKER: The writers at CFL.ca (remember that website? The one that fired me?) took a poll of the top Newsmaker of the Year and top Person of the Year in the CFL and the results were Chris Jones and Henry Burris respectively.
My guess is Jones will be the Newsmaker of the Year each season that he's in Saskatchewan. I'd guess, to, that he'd have won it in 2015 in Edmonton if they'd had such a poll back then.
The one award the CFL is dearly lacking is a GM of the Year like most other leagues. If I had a vote, it would go to Ottawa's Marcel Desjardins for the 2016 season.
Who was the CFL's top P.R. department this season? Who won the Gibson's Finest Reporter of the Year?
Am I in a dream and have yet to wake up?
Hellooooooooo ... is there anybody out there in the CFL???
4 - BIG APPLE ADVICE: If you're coming to New York for New Years Eve, you'll need three things: 1) Bring lots of money. It's far more expensive than I thought but that's okay, 2) Bring warm clothes. At times, the full-length Roughrider overcoat I brought wasn't warm enough. It didn't dip below zero degrees but the wind has been ferocious and 3) Download the Uber app. It saved us hundreds of dollars.
I know, I know. The youngsters reading this are saying, "You didn't have the Uber app until now?"
No, I did not. I'm Old School and liked to support the cab/private driver industry but when $72 fares are cut down to $30, I'm sorry, but it's every man for himself.
Cabbies are furious over what Uber is doing to their industry but you can't stop technology. Taxis are going the way of Blockbuster and newspapers.
Adapt, or get in line for your buyout.
Also, regarding the top of Point 4, we had to shell out $199US each for two spots at Virgils BBQ's New Years Eve party. Otherwise we'd have been left standing outside in the cold for up to 12 hours on December 31. Lots of people did, but I wouldn't have wanted to be them. You'd better love Ryan Seacrest if you want to do that!
It's not just enough to show up and stake your spot along the thousands of barriers outlining Times Square. You need a plan, and lots of money that you didn't expect to spend.
Other than that, the New Years Eve show was good enough for many I suppose. I'm not a huge Mariah Carey fan so there's that. Jenny McCarthy did a nice job being the roving reporter on the national telecast but it's a shame she's had so much work done to her face. She didn't need it!
5 - STADIUM FACTS: MetLife Stadium was built in 2010 and was a joint venture through the New York Giants and New York Jets and various levels of government. It seats 82,000 and it generally takes 24-36 hours to flip the stadium over between the two host teams (sidelines, endzones, interior and exterior stadium banners, etc) but they've done it in as little as seven hours.
The Giants have the larger of the two home locker rooms, and that was decided by a coin flip.
During the tour, the guide asked, "Does anyone know why the seats are multi-coloured with three different shades of gray?"
"So it doesn't look empty!" I shouted.
She replied, "We've got a ringer!"
One little kid asked her if we'd see Odell Beckham Jr. on the tour. Clearly we would not, but the flamboyant Giants receiver is by far New York's most-popular athlete right now especially since the retirement of Derek Jeter.
The Giants were founded in 1925 by Tom Mara at an expansion fee of $500US. The Mara family still owns them today and you may know great granddaughter Rooney Mara, the popular actress who also has roots with the Steelers' famed Rooney family.
It seems like the NY Jets - the Giants' NFL roommates at MetLife - are little more than an annoyance in the more popular Giants' home. The Gotham Green have just one Super Bowl to their credit (1968) and their only true franchise icon is Joe Namath.
I opted for a stadium tour on Saturday rather than to go to Sunday's Bills-Jets game. All I wanted to see was the stadium, so why not pay just $20 rather than go to a meaningless game between two bad teams?
On Sunday I asked the doorman at Trump Tower where I could find a sportsbar to watch the Jets game. "Why would you want to watch the Jets?" he smirked, and then directed me to Cassidy's Irish pub a few blocks away.
By the way, President Trump was out of town on Sunday but that didn't stop the Secret Service with machine guns pacing the front doorways. Check out my Snapchat at Pedersenmedia to see it all.
One other interesting stadium tour note: during construction, the coaches of both teams hired special agents to come in and sweep the ducts over the locker rooms looking for hidden microphones or cameras.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH FOOTBALL PEOPLE??
6 - HAPPY WIFE, HAPPY LIFE: It's not my idea of a holiday to flirt with frostbite, spend half your day in cabs, be elbow-to-elbow with two million other people who've come in for the same occasion, or have the foul stench of I-don't-know-what in my nostrils for five days BUT, my wife loves it and that's why we came.
Was I fearful for our safety on New Years Eve? 98% of me was confident we were in the safest place on the continent but there's always that nagging 2% that Homeland Security might've missed something.
A guy with a backpack got targeted on his way into Times Square after midnight on Saturday and it created a stir amongst NYPD. I'll relate that story on Tuesday's SportsCage.
But give me Phoenix, Mexico, Las Vegas or Southern California on any other vacation.
Sun, space and fresh air.
7 - CENTENNIAL CLASSIC: Got back to the hotel room just in time on Sunday to watch the outdoor game in Toronto between the Leafs and Red Wings. I was praying the Leafs would lose so I could Tweet that they're blaming the loss on the Argonauts. But alas, Auston Mathews was the hero in a 5-4 Leafs overtime win and he's looking to be at least as good of a pick as Winnipeg's Patrik Laine.
From how it looked on the NBC broadcast, they did a real nice job at BMO Field even if it didn't sell out. And it was great to discover where Pierre McGuire is hiding out these days (between the benches on NBC).
I'd say I miss hockey but you get your fill in the Tri-State area between the Devils, Rangers and Islanders. I was able to watch the Rangers "shlomp" the Coyotes 6-3 on Thursday. That's a term they used down here.
When you're down here, you could see why NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman virtually ignored Canada for the first 15 years of his tenure.
However he doesn't anymore.
By the way I predict there will be an outdoor hockey game at New Mosaic Stadium in the next 3-5 years but have no idea who it might be.
8 - DOWN GOES RONDA: Ronda Rousey's career could be made into a new movie, "Gone In 48 Seconds". She was eviscorated in 48 seconds by Amanda Nunes Friday night in Las Vegas in UFC 205. It was a fight she was never in and seemed ill-prepared even though she never actually went down.
Her story is simple. While Nunes was off training, Rousey was starring in movies, living the rock star life, (reports said she became pregnant but lost it), and generally taking her eye off the ball.
Now, many are calling for the former champ to retire. Personally I hope she doesn't but she certainly has enough money to last her a lifetime. (She received $3,000,000 for Friday's fight).
9 - DOING IT RIGHT: A heartfelt kudos to the people of Swift Current who unveiled a commemorative monument to the Four Broncos on Friday. Whether it was the Broncos, the City of Swift Current, private donations or whomever was responsible, thank you.
30 years ago on Friday I was 14 years old in Milestone, SK and was planning to attend the Pats and Broncos that night in the Agridome. However my Uncle Ross Nicholas informed me of the crash while he was delivering our groceries.
Those four players will live in infamy. And as someone who rode the buses of the WHL for 17 seasons, there wasn't a time when we boarded the bus that I didn't think of those four.
Again, congratulations to Swift Current for doing the right thing and it appears they're doing the appropriate things to begin healing.
10 - X MARKS THE SPOT: Former Roughrider Xavier Fulton is hosting a charity steak night on Saturday, January 14 to raise funds for Hopes Home. Hopes Home is a Regina non-profit organization which helps children with complex medical needs and suffer from chronic or progressive medical conditions.
The event will be held at Cravings in East Regina and tickets are available there, or call James Foster at 306-533-0158.
It's a great iniative by "X" and here's hoping we see him in Green & White again one day!
THAT'S IT FOR TODAY! HAPPY NEW YEAR