Some players not only don’t have time to work in the winter months because of their training schedule, but many spend their own hard-earned money just to have the services of a high-level trainer. Eddie has seen some guys spend as much as $25,000 dollars on their offseason conditioning costs alone. That might seem excessive to some but most of us have never had to get in shape good enough to fight for - and keep - a pro football career. It’s not a simple process.
And most star players aren’t protected by the non-import ratio like Jason Clermont was when he built his real estate career in the offseasons during his run with the B.C. Lions. Not only do players need and deserve a raise but teams need to be ensuring their strength/conditioning departments are sufficient to give players what they need to properly train in the winter months so the athletes aren’t doing it on their own dime.
2 – ARGOS PROVE SYSTEM WORKS FOR PLAYERS TOO: James Wilder Jr.’s 2-year contract extension with the Toronto Argonauts proves there is value in requiring players entering the league to sign an entry-level contract of at least 2 years. He cried that he could get more money to sign in the NFL and threatened to take his ball and go home. If the numbers reported are correct, Wilder nearly doubled his salary with this extension and the Argonauts have locked up a stud running back through his 27th birthday, all but assuring CFL fans he will be a 3-down lifer.
But just imagine if he was a free agent. Would the NFL have really been all that interested in a running back entering his late 20’s who was already passed over in 3 NFL training camps before? Even the Bengals and the Bills didn’t see anything there. Had he been passed over again, his market value surely would have taken a hit.
Wilder can cash his cheque because he’s earned it. But he can also thank the very same CBA clause he complained about so strongly just a short time ago.
3 – BRIER MIGHT TOP A CRAZY 2018: If the early returns are any indication, the Tim Horton’s Brier in Regina just might be the biggest sports story of the year. The parking lot has been packed even during the blizzards and the atmosphere has been off the hook. I made my first ever visit to the Brier Patch Saturday and couldn’t believe how packed it was and how many young people were there. It’s been a mini-Grey Cup which the Memorial Cup host committee will have a nearly impossible task trying to duplicate.
4 – KOE EMBRACING FAILURE: Kevin Koe seems to have gotten over his wounds from missing the podium at the Olympics. There he was Saturday in the patch taking questions from fans, sharing a few laughs and probably a few drinks too. It occurred to me that his loss had to be a massive weight lifted off the shoulders of Canadian women’s skip Rachel Homan who was getting roasted for her disappointing finish in Pyeongchang. Since Koe lost too, he’s been able to step in and shoulder much of the disappointment. And with his long track record of experience and success, his shoulders appear a little more broad to take this on than hers would’ve been.
5 –McEWEN MY DARK HORSE TO WIN BRIER: Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen rink needed not one but 2 serious boo-boos from opposing skip Jason Gunnlaugson in the extra end of the wild card game just to play in this tournament. But a hard-fought battle with defending champ Brad Gushue Monday night has his rink right in the thick of it. We’ve seen the wild card teams have great playoff success in baseball. I suspect we’re about to see it in curling at this brier too.
6 – NHL FINALLY CATCHES ON TO OUTDOOR GAME FOR REGINA: I’m surprised it’s taken this long for the National Hockey League head office to figure out what I’ve known all along and even suggested in this space just a short time ago: Mosaic Stadium would be a perfect cash cow for an outdoor NHL game. This is a Rider province but is still not a football province. Hockey has always been king here and that won’t change anytime soon.
Not since January of 1994 when my Canucks beat the Oilers at Sask Place have we seen a regular season NHL game in the 306. We are due and if the NHL is having doubts they should take deposits for tickets just like they are in Seattle. Mark my words, this game WILL happen.
7 – ARGOS WILL BE GOOD FOR CALVILLO: Sometimes change for the sake of change is a good thing for everybody. The addition of Anthony Calvillo to the Argos coaching staff to work with the quarterbacks will give Ricky Ray and James Franklin some benefit but I really think the change away from Montreal will do more good for A.C. He’s been a fixture there for 20 years and I can’t help but draw parallels to Ron Lancaster’s exit from Saskatchewan after so many seasons with the Green & White.
From the quotes I’ve heard and comments I’ve read, sounds like the Little General felt like things had just gotten a little stale for him here. He went on to a great broadcasting career and won 2 Grey Cups as a coach after that. The change seemed to work out for him and should be good for Calvillo too.
9 – RAPTORS NEED TO QUIT CHIRPING THE REFS: If the Toronto Raptors ever win a championship with the core group they have, it will probably happen this season. But it’s become apparent to me that Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka whine at the officials a little too much and the others around them are taking their lead all too often. Time for DemarDerozan to be the leader of this team and reel them in if they’re to have any shot at pulling this thing off.
10 – DOCUMENTARY/BOOK OF THE WEEK: The sensational “Icarus” won an Oscar for its behind-the-scenes footage on Netflix of how Russian anti-doping head GrigoryRodchenkov exposed that country’s state-sponsored doping scandal. It gives perspective on how brave Mr. Rodchenkov has been to risk his life over this and just how evil the Russian government really does operate. I came away wishing the I.O.C. and international community in general would take a harder stance on Russia and I think you will too.
(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendanhowardmc)