Today's MMG comes to you from the beautiful Mexican State of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula. It's the annual Harvard Broadcasting Sun Trip comprising clients, staff and friends and they were once again nice enough to invite me along.
I thought I'd take the opportunity to answer 12 questions I've fielded from the rabid sports fans on this trip, and turn them into this week's Monday Morning Goalie.
But first, some photos of the fabulous Now Sapphire resort ...
1 - WERE YOU SURPRISED AT THE DURANT TRADE?: Yes, particularly after the report of trade talks was denied just a few weeks ago. For the past couple of months we'd reported on this website and on the radio that the expectation was for Darian Durant to go to free agency on February 14.
If he was unable to fetch his asking price on the open market, my hope was that he would sign back in Saskatchewan for a 12th season.
However as we all learned on Friday, there were some bubbling emotions under the surface that ultimately made it impossible for Durant to return.
2 - WERE YOU SURPRISED AT DARIAN'S COMMENTS ABOUT CHRIS JONES?: Yes and no. We learned early on in Durant's tenure that he wears his heart on his sleeve and doesn't mince words. However my expectation was - when he was invited on the SportsCage on Friday - that he'd simply thank the Rider Nation and speak of some of his best memories.
That didn't turn out to be the case as Durant levied some harsh words at Chris Jones which he'd been holding onto for awhile.
Does he regret that he spoke his mind? Likely not, but hopefully the whole situation is now over and dealt with. However I have a nagging feeling it's not.
3 - HOW DO YOU THINK DARIAN WILL DO IN MONTREAL?: If he's able to stay healthy, I suspect Durant will prosper in Jacques Chapedalaine's and Anthony Calvillo's system with the Alouettes. After all, who would be better to guide the quarterback of the Als than Calvillo himself?
Durant got his money - guaranteed and a lot up front - so he should be happy. If all goes according to plan, then Montreal GM Kavis Reed will look very smart.
However if Darian suffers another major injury, Chris Jones will have been proven right and the public opinion pendulum will swing back to the Riders' side.
Whether he stays healthy or not in 2017, I still think Durant could play several more years in the CFL. Kevin Glenn has suffered some major injuries over his lengthy career but is still ticking at 37 and will resurface somewhere in the league this season.
4 - WILL THE ALOUETTES VISIT THE RIDERS IN WEEK 1?: If there's a football god, then yes. Durant would still get to open New Mosaic Stadium - albeit in Red, White & Blue - and it seems to me he deserves as much. To me, it's a no-brainer to have Montreal visit Saskatchewan in Week 1 and the storylines would be mind-boggling. The match-up would assuredly over-shadow the Grey Cup rematch of Calgary and Ottawa, which typically opens the CFL season.
However that may be one reason why this doesn't happen. The CFL suits may want to prop up a Stampeders-RedBlacks sequel and not have to deal with the drama surrounding Durant's Return in the same week.
Another reason an Alouettes-Roughriders meeting may not happen in Week 1 is that the Roughriders may want to save the showdown for later on in the summer since the home-opener will have enough fireworks of its own. I've heard quite a bit of that talk.
I pray that doesn't become the case.
5 - WHEN DOES THE 2017 SCHEDULE COME OUT?: Great question. Last year's schedule was unveiled on February 18 and even that was earlier than normal. The NFL has already announced the dates and teams for next year's games in London, England and their season isn't even over yet!
I'm sure the CFL schedule-makers will get to it in due time. It's not as eagerly-anticipated in other CFL markets as it is in Saskatchewan.
6 - WHAT'S KEN MILLER DOING NOW?: Great timing with that question. I got a tip on the weekend that Coach Miller will be coaching pro football in Italy in 2017 on the staff of legendary CFL coach Adam Rita.
7 - WILL JEFF KNOX JR. MAKE THE TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS?: I'd be surprised if he doesn't. The Pittsburgh product leaves the CFL with an exemplary resume after being the Riders' MVP, Defensive MVP and Rookie of the Year in 2015. He also recorded 100-plus tackles that season and while injuries hindered him at the start of 2016, he rebounded to be a key part of Chris Jones' defense.
If Brian Peters can flourish with the Houston Texans after having a similar stint in Saskatchewan, there's no reason to expect Knox can't do the same thing in Tampa Bay.
However you never know how the numbers game and politics will affect things.
8 - DO YOU BELIEVE IN CHRIS JONES?: Absolutely I do. The expectation is that Jones will be Saskatchewan's version of Bill Belichick and the franchise will enjoy similar year-over-year success as the Patriots under Jones' guidance.
Remember Belichick was 5-11 in his first season in New England which bares an eery resemblance to Jones' first season in charge in Regina. Oh how I'd love to be able to read message board posts from Patriots fans from back in 2000. I'm sure Belichick took his share of heat while attempting to turn that franchise around.
I'm hearing more and more (externally) that 2017 will be another year of building and that the plan may not truly come to fruition until 2018.
However I'm not sure that Rider fans can or will be that patient.
But a member of Jones staff told me last week that he wouldn't have followed Jones to Saskatchewan if he didn't believe this club would have huge success under his leadership.
9 - WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITHOUT A QUARTERBACK?: I didn't have to wait to get to Mexico to field that quiry. A guy pulled up beside me at a red light in Regina last week, rolled down his window, shook his fist, and yelled that exact same question.
The guy was a dead-ringer for the folk singer Valdy and was wearing a Blue Jays toque, if that means anything.
|Valdy has a twin in Regina|
I pretty much shrugged my shoulders and held my palms skyward. The rumour persists that the Riders will exhaust every effort to acquire back-up James Franklin from Edmonton and Eskimos colour commentator Dave Campbell didn't exactly extinguish that notion on Friday's SportsCage.
If that trade happens, then things look immediately better for Canada's Team.
However if it doesn't, I still expect the Riders will go with a fresh face rather than a recycled veteran like Kevin Glenn, Ricky Ray or Travis Lulay.
Perhaps the next Tom Brady - or Jonathan Jennings - is still out there somewhere.
10 - ARE THE RIDERS REALLY GOING TO SIGN DURON CARTER?: CFL Insider Justin Dunk reported that on the weekend and he's got great sources. Initially I was against the move due to Carter's well-documented set of baggage but I'm warming up to the idea. If the Dallas Cowboys can get a similar player in Dez Bryant to ball-out, then perhaps Jones can do the same thing with Carter.
He could also be attractice trade bait as well, like in a deal for James Franklin.
11 - HOW FAR CAN THE PATS GO?: There have been lots of questions down here about the Queen City Kids. They continue on a torrid pace and have achieved 30-plus wins in just 43 games. That's happened only two times before (in 1981 and 1984, as noted by historian Kevin Shaw) and in 1984 they went to the league final. With this group, they should be able to go at least that far.
Their crease has been a revolving door whatwith the recent injury to starter Tyler Brown but having back-up Jordan Hollett back now helps a lot.
Is the team giving up far more goals than John Paddock would like? Yes. But he's got two months to get this figured out and in the meantime, enjoy all the goals! The games have been insane and more often than not, the Pats have come out on top.
12 - HAVE YOU BEEN TO A SASKATCHEWAN RUSH GAME?: Yes, I've been to several including last year's Champions Cup-clinching game over Buffalo at a soldout SaskTel Centre. The Rush really are the talk of the province and the sellouts will assuredly continue.
There are some people from Saskatoon on this trip and they say Rush President Lee Genier is absolutely everywhere in Saskatoon, shaking hands and building the brand.
That's why Genier was a slam dunk winner of the NLL's Executive of the Year last season and the team has followed suit.
Success starts at the top!
And I suspect any Rush naysayers are just jealous Reginans.
THAT'S IT FOR TODAY! THANKS FOR READING