Tuesday, June 5, 2018
THROWIN' ELBOWS WITH BRENDAN MCGUIRE
2 –DURON IS CANADA’S DEION SANDERS: I feel so lucky to have grown up a sports fan in the era of the multi-sport athlete. First Bo Jackson and then Deion Sanders showed us playing pro baseball and football was possible. The game has changed so much since then with specialization that it is now virtually impossible. But Duron gives us a glimpse with his offense, defense, and special teams. His off-field slipups aside, Duron leaves us with the impression that although he is imperfect (like the rest of us), he is far from malicious either. The world would be a better place if we all enjoyed going to work most days as much as Duron does.
3 – COLLAROS NEEDS REPS: My biggest hope for Friday night when the Roughriders host the Calgary Stampeders is to see quarterback Zach show us what he’s got. The NFL customarily uses Game 3 of the preseason as a dress rehearsal for the real deal. Zach hasn’t played yet and we’re cutting it close to the June 15th season opener. Zach is in need of practice with the bullets flying and only a series or two won’t suffice for the workload he needs to put in on Friday night. We will see.
4 – CFL SEASON TOO EARLY: They haven’t completely screwed it up by pitting the regular season with the Stanley Cup Finals yet but it seems a bit ridiculous the league would put TSN in a position to apologize for not airing preseason games while forcing the network to compete in a crowded field with the NBA Finals too. Just imagine how much of a disaster this would be if the Blue Jays were any good or if/when the Expos return. The guys who decided to start the season around Canada Day decades ago were pretty smart and knew what they were doing. Randy Ambrosie is doing some great things but messing with the schedule isn’t one of them.
5 – NOT DRINKING MANZIEL KOOL-AID YET: A handful of completed passes and big TV ratings does not a starting CFL quarterback make. Johnny Football exceeded my very low expectations for his debut over the weekend but I have yet to see his most important test: Can he follow the script? Doug Flutie called his own plays and improvised all the time but he also made his full set of reads and went through his full progression. David Watford, and not Marquise Williams, will be the Riders 3rd-strong quarterback for that very reason. It’s the same reason Brandon Bridge is still the backup and not the starter. Manziel still has lots to prove to this cowboy.
6 –STUBLER IS ALOUETTES ONLY HOPE: I have nothing but respect and admiration for Montreal Alouettes GM Kavis Reed. But his mishandling of veterans Bear Woods and Jovan Olafioye coupled with his failure to solve his quarterback situation has me running out of excuses for him and all the heat he’s taking from 3-down junkies. His pal Rich Stubler has had a close relationship with him forever and Kavis needs his pal now more than he’s ever needed him before. Rich is capable of pulling a rabbit out of his hat and at this point, it’s really the only card that team has left to play.
7 – ESKS WON’T WIN CHAMPIONSHIP WITH MAAS: The league needs more passionate personalities like Jason Maas. However, I do believe ex-CFL quarterbacks carry their identity as a player to the rest of their team when they become head coaches. We saw it with Ron Lancaster and Kent Austin in a good way and then later with Danny Barrett in a not-so-good way. I fear Maas is headed down that same path as Danny. He always did a lot of great things but never could win it all as THE GUY. I’m hearing the Eskimo fan base has yet to really forgive him for last November’s gaffe in the Western Final when he kicked a field goal instead of going for the tie or win in the dying moments. What did Maas learn from that costly episode of overthinking? We should find out this season.
8 – REAL REASON SPORTSNET BOUGHT INTO ARGOS: I was so full of hope when MLSE bought the Toronto Argonauts that Rogers Sportsnet would start paying attention to the CFL. I was wrong. Aside from a collection of Johnny Manziel stories, I’m not seeing any real change in the network’s coverage. It’s becoming clear to me the motive for Rogers to buy in had less to do with wanting a piece of the Argos and more to do with just taking everything from Bell Media and TSN completely. Kind of like McDonald’s flogging their coffee and bagels while still giving us the other stuff. It’s all about squeezing the competition.
9 – CURRIE FIELD AMONG MOST SCENIC OF BALLPARKS: Couldn’t have had a more perfect afternoon for opening day of the Regina Red Sox season on Sunday. The best baseball stadiums have the most variety of outfield scenes. Currie Field has lots of trees, a football field, a hill, the screen monster, the odd train and the City of Regina in its outfield backdrop. Early returns suggest to me that Red Sox centrefielder Riley Hickerson could be worth the price of admission after seeing him drive the bus with 4 RBI’s on his first day.
10 – DOCUMENTARY/BOOK OF THE WEEK: Robokicker: An Odyssey through the CFL, is an oldie but still a goodie. The hero of the greatest Grey Cup game ever played from 1989, Dave Ridgway, details his storied career and includes some obscure stories of playing with the 1987 Montreal Alouettes who folded less than 48 hours before the season opener. A fitting read to close out the preseason.
(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @BrendanHowardMC)