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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

MARKS CFL WEEK IN FULL SWING

CFL.ca's Brodie Lawson chats with CFL QB stars on Facebook Live
 MARKS CFL WEEK NOTEBOOK

1 - You could ask anyone who was there, but I think CFL agent Rob Fry said it best on Tuesday when asked his thoughts on the inaugural Marks CFL Week in Regina. "The CFL nailed it," Fry said on CKRM's SportsCage from Fan Fest.

Indeed, they have. Close to 60 CFL stars, staff from all nine CFL teams and thousands of CFL fans have descended upon the Queen City for this ground-breaking event.

It's immense, and incredibly impressive in its magnitude.

2 - Of course, the CFL has been conducting an event similar to this for years in Toronto but 2017 is the first year the League has taken this show on the road and opened its doors to fans. Many were leery of what to expect - which is understandable because it's the first of its kind - but just a few hours into Tuesday's Media Day, we knew this event was going to be a homerun.

3 - CFL staffers had hinted that this would have a mini-Grey Cup feel but in a way, it's better. I'm not sure even the Grey Cup itself would pull together this many of the league's biggest stars, and make them so accessible. If you're a fan of Canadian football and want to discuss it with the likes of Bo-Levi Mitchell, Mike Reilly or even Commissioner Jeffrey L. Orridge, this is where you want to be.

4 - So many people wondered what this was all going to be about, but now after seeing coverage on TSN and listening on 620 CKRM's SportsCage, even more fans are clamouring to get here before the week is over. As is the CFL's "all-inclusive" nature, they'll make room for you.

5 - Undoubtedly the busiest man is Commisioner Orridge, and I bumped into him at breakfast, on our radio show, and later at The Keg Steakhouse & Bar. He's been everywhere, and the week is just getting started. Likely the second-busiest man is TSN's Gary Lawless who's been starting his days at 6:00 am and his head hasn't hit the pillow until after midnight. And again, we're just getting going.

6 - And just like Grey Cup, while the fans are celebrating Canadiana and taking selfies with the players, the league power-brokers are huddled up at a downtown hotel meeting well into the night discussing league business. From what we've learned, the Rules Committee is kicking around ideas to make the flow of games better (like making amendments to the timing of reviews and challenges and tweaking the rules). CFL V.P. of Football Glen Johnson will meet with the media on Wednesday morning for a briefing on the committee's findings.

7 - It's my understanding that Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon will be arriving in Regina on Wednesday evening to participate in Thursday's panel on the Main Stage with TSN's Rod Smith, Anthony Calvillo and Mike Reilly.

Mr. Moon will be on the SportsCage Wednesday at 5:35 pm.

His agent? Leigh Steinberg.

8 - There's media here from all CFL centres and the coverage and exposure generated has equalled an absolute avalanche. It's a buffet of content for reporters, and the winners are the fans who devour our reports. Truthfully, this should tide us all over for a good, long time.

9 - The guy I was most shocked to see was former All Star Rider cornerback Omarr Morgan who unexpectedly jumped onto the SportsCage on Tuesday afternoon. He's at the combine scouting, but didn't mention for whom. Omarr absolutely grilled Kevin Glenn during our segment in Hour 2 of the SportsCage, and it's definitely worth a listen on our podcast at www.sportscage.ca. I felt like turning the entire show over to "O" because he was getting more out of K.G. than I possibly could have, but the quarterback didn't seem to mind.

Morgan was slated for induction into the Plaza of Honor two years ago but was unable to make arrangements to attend. Hopefully that matter is rectified in the near future, because he's definitely worthy. Omarr told us he's been busy running his store in L.A. and coaching his son in football.

He's so great.

10 - The player I enjoyed talking with the most on Tuesday (aside from our own guys)? Winnipeg Blue Bombers safety Taylor Loffler. He's my kind of football player. A throwback. Old School. He sauntered into the media room on Tuesday wearing a ball cap, Wrangler jeans and long blonde hair. But it wasn't a Fabio kind of hairdo ... more like Clay Mathews.

He seemed to feel awkward and out of place in that banquet room. Sort of like ... he only feels at home on the football field or on his ranch just outside Billings, MT.

And lo and behold, after I turned my tape recorder on, I learned the UBC product was born in Regina and considers Regina his hometown! "Pretty much all of my family is still here," Loffler said.

I hope, one day, he wears Green & White before his career is over.

11 - Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was booed loud and lustily when introduced on the QB Club panel with host Brodie Lawson Tuesday at 4:00 pm at Fan Fest. He loved each and every second of it. Sort of like a heel in wrestling.

12 - The Fan Fest doors open daily at 3:00 pm and remain open until 9:00 pm. There's a beer gardens on hand and tons of interactive exhibits. In that way, I'd suggest it beats Grey Cup because last year's event in Toronto didn't offer this much to fans.

13 - Day 2 on Wednesday offers another Media Day with players like Weston Dressler, Derek Dennis, Ernest Jackson, Ricky Ray, J.C. Sherritt and many more. They'll do their TSN video and photo shoots in the Credit Union Eventplex and then get turned loose on the fans.

14 - Tickets for the Regional and National Combines have become very hot commodities but if you weren't quick to snap them up at www.MarksCFLWeek.ca, you're likely out of luck. However there are a few floating around and we'll be giving some away on the SportsCage.

15 - You may or not be surprised to learn the #1 topic - in the circles which I've been in - is Vince Young. The players have been asked about V.Y. in their interviews and the fans are buzzing about him coming to the CFL as well. Unfortunately, he's unable to attend but clearly he's big news.

A football podcast from the United Kingdom called me up on Tuesday and we chatted about Young for a good 20 minutes. The mere addition of Vince Young has made the Roughriders a global topic.

You can listen to the podcast here.

3DownNation.com's Drew Edwards theorized on Tuesday that Vince Young's decision to come to the CFL may influence other former NFL stars like Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III to come noth.

16 - There was some concern way back when CFL Week was announced that this event would overshadow Round 1 of the Pats-Hitmen WHL Playoff series. I'm not sure that it has. In fact, there are thousands of people driving by the Brandt Centre ticket office on their way to Banner Hall for CFL Week. That alone should garner plenty of Pats ticket sales if the hockey team promotes it sufficiently.

Regina defenceman Connor Hobbs was on the SportsCage on Tuesday saying the club generally feels no pressure heading into the postseason, other than to continually prove they're the best team in the WHL which they've pretty much done all season long. Hobbs also noted that the Pats are a "mature team" heading into the playoffs unlike the past two years when they achieved the second round but no further.

Hobbs also stated the hockey club's slogan for the playoffs is "Do Your Job".

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*That's all for now -- chat with you Wednesday from Marks CFL Week.

PHOTOS FROM THE TSN SHOOT AND FAN FEST






*Photos courtesy CFL

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sure hope the league gets it right in regard to challenges and replays. It would be a shame for all this great publicity to be for nothing if the game continues to suffer just because certain league people want to make the issue the hill they'll die on.

Anonymous said...

Glen Johnson's stubbornness on CFL replays and challenges is worse than Garry Bettman's on US sunbelt expansion and the Olympics.

@mrt_man said...

I'M HAVING TROUBLE GETTING EXCITED FOR THE SEASON... JUST SEEMS TOUGH TO LOOK FORWARD TO WITHOUT DD. WAS SUCH A MESS WHILE HE WAS INJURED. WHY COULDN'T WE JUST PAY HIM HALF WAY REASONABLE QB MONEY?

I THINK I HAD BETTER GET OVER IT AND GO CHECK THINGS OUT TOMORROW.

Anonymous said...

You're right Rod, the Fan Fest is a homerun. Went to the autograph sessions on Tuesday and got some cool autographs. Chad Owens signed one of the cards and I asked him to add his nickname "the Flyin' Hawaiian" and he graciously did. When I got home, I took a closer look at the card to find that he spelled flyin as "Fylin". I thought to myself "Hmmmmmm did he do that on purpose??". Whether it was or not, I had a good laugh about it.....and I've got myself a unique keepsake.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to get to town on Friday and get over there. I'm so pumped. Guy I want to meet the most is Messam, Durant, or Lofler

John Knight said...

From what I have read, Durant was offered what he got in Montreal but it wasn't guaranteed and he would have to accomplish something like PLAY and stay off the injury list. Seems reasonable

Anonymous said...

Seems reasonable...injuries can happen to any player bud so I guess every player should take pay cuts with putting there body on the line...just ignorant comments by fans, you do realize they have a life outside and after football right.

Anonymous said...

To John Knight;

Was that after the insults or before?

Besides that you're full of it because if you are on the injury list it doesn't count on the salary cap. It was about playing for peanuts.

But go ahead and be a lemming, I prefer to be realistic.

SWC

Anonymous said...

Nobody's forcing them to play football. Durant was offered a fair deal. He chose to leave which was his right. End of story. Please.

Anonymous said...

we want VY

George Porge said...

"Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was booed loud and lustily when introduced"

Stay classy, Rider fans!

Anonymous said...

Some Rider fans have followed the lead of Chris Jones. They are ignorant and classless. Booing Bo Levi; turning on Durant. Doubles was the most successful QB for the Riders in recent memory. He was criticized by the management here for being injured when surrounded by the most inadequate cast of players. Asked to take yet another pay cut and called "moderately" talented. Jones manipulated the situation so that Durant would sign anywhere but here. It was handled very badly but Jones got what he wanted; Durant was gone. I know what Durant did for this franchise; won a Grey Cup, took them to playoffs and Grey Cup games, was always classy and a leader. At this point I have no idea what Jones will do for this franchise. Up to now, he has done nothing to be proud of. He has accumulated immense fines, signed good players that wouldn't even finish a season here and now will start the next season with another cast of characters and no obvious starting QB. Durant will continue to be my idol. Jones has a lot to prove to reach that status.

Anonymous said...

Based on what Ive read, from sources like Farhan Lalji and 3downnation, DD was lowballed by Jones who wanted to appear publically as though he made a fair offer, but had no intent of actually re-signing him. Jones chose to dump him and Opt for a vince young experiment, with a kevin glenn insurance policy. End of story. Please.

Anonymous said...

BLM = Over rated. Good on the boo birds, itd be phony to applaud for him.

Anonymous said...

Who are you to say he was offered a fair deal...are you hom or his agent. Maybe in your little minds in saskatchewan he was offered a fair deal but in his world it wasn't proper. Also Jones throwing shots at him personally is classless but everyone in the CFL expects this from the classless Jones.

John Knight said...

OK, now that you stumps fans have vented, go to your own blog. Oh yeah,right, you don't have one.

Anonymous said...

To the anon that asks 'are you hom or his agent'
Please don't lump Roughrider fans in with this guy. Whoever it is that has been posting under the name 'John Knight' does not represent the Rider Nation.

Tom

Anonymous said...

BLM should receive applause for exposing Chris Jones for what he is.

Anonymous said...

WHO'S DD????

George Porge said...

"BLM = Over rated. Good on the boo birds, itd be phony to applaud for him."

For a quarterback who has only been a starter in the league for three years, Bo Levi already has:

- Broke two all-time CFL records (Most consecutive wins by a starting QB, Best starting record for a first-time QB).
- Has two Grey Cup visits as a starter, ending in one win and one overtime loss.
- Has been awarded both Grey Cup MVP and CFL MOP


In only five years as a player:

- Has been to three Grey Cups and all five West Finals.
- Has the second-highest passer-rating of any active starting CFL quarterback.
- Has the highest passer-rating of any active CFL quarterback with at least 40 starts.
- Is the only active CFL quarterback with a >100 career passer rating after 50 starts.


He is highly rated, but it is absolutely deserved. It is pretty hard to over-rate someone who, statistically, is probably the best player in the entire league. A player who, by the way, is only 27 years old and still has a number of years to improve.

As for the boo birds, here is an article from your own Leader Post:
http://http://leaderpost.com/sports/football/cfl/calgary-stampeders-bo-levi-mitchell-is-a-most-outstanding-teammate

Perhaps there is something, decidedly "greener", driving the boo-birds.

Anonymous said...

BLM is over-rated...my lord some people are dumb. He is breaking Cfl records, he has one grey cup in three or four years as a starter plus awards to back that up also. You call him over rated and stick with your 38 year old qb and experiment with a guy that hasn't thrown in a game since 2011...get of the kool-aide bud

Anonymous said...

Life long rider fan here. I have only respect for DD and see right through Jones's bs. I was totally open to giving him a fair shot here. But he is extremely hard to pull for.

Im a die hard Rider fan, but because of the shady way Jones handled DDs trade, i will be pulling for Darian when the riders play MTL this year.

Will jones build a winner here? Maybe. But likely not for a while based on his approach to the qb position, and his penchant to cycle excessively through players at all positions, mainly because hes been given unchecked control over the entire operation.

JPR said...

To the Anon that said Durant is his idol thats great. I liked DD also but with a record of 58-54 would not be my first choice going forward all though i will give you this in the playoffs he did seem to hit the next level. Things could have been left on a better note but its business and peraonalities collide.
Just let it go already if the riders are crap this year i will be the first to join the jones hit the road crew but i will give the guys a chance to see what they can do. I think we have a better group this year and with some of the returning players from last year we should get off to a better start and be able to gel much quicker than last year

JPR

Anonymous said...

BLM has been put at the helm of a juggernaut team, with a vaunted online, at a time when rules have been tilted excessively in the offences favour. Most CFL QBs would fare similarly in his shoes. He's good, no doubt, but overrated no less.

George Porge said...

Yes, the Stampeders as a team have been pretty stellar these past few seasons, but don't take away Bo Levi's part in this. Last game of the season, we saw what a very average quarterback was able to do with that team in pretty much the only game where he had the chance to show his worth, and it was against a very average Eastern team.

A stellar supporting cast only gets you so far. Even the Riders of 2013, despite winning the cup, had pretty average stats that season, despite being one of the most stacked Rider teams seen since the mid-1990s. A great team with an average quarterback will be average (Durant's QB rating that year was still in the low 90's).

Rider fans, of all people, should know how important a good quarterback is to the team. All you need to do is rewatch the 2012 through the 2015 seasons.

Anonymous said...

Ill let it go when Jones produces a better QB option, not a career journeyman / backup and an long shot NFL washout experiment. If he produces strong QB results with those two, ill certainly eat my words.

He treated DD with utter disrespect, which was absolutely unnecessary and uncalled for. There are much better ways to handle a situation like that. Its gonna take alot for me to just get over that, in how I view Chris Jones.