This was smack-dab in the middle of the Riders black hole of 11 straight seasons of missing the playoffs. Much like in 2019, the Riders had big question marks at quarterback back then. Herrera tried to solve it with…Homer Jordan!
Been trying to get “Spanish John” on the Sports Cage for a week and if we ever do succeed with that, I’ll be curious to find out if he plans to return to the ‘306’ for the Raiders preseason game in August following a 35-year hiatus. He’ll be sad to hear Bob Hughes is no longer with us but relieved to find out he won’t have to deal with the constant criticism of the writer who got under Herrera’s skin way back when.
2. WHY SOME PLAYERS CHOOSE THE ALLIANCE OVER THE CFL: Been wondering and hearing all kinds of speculation as to why Canadian football players Brett Boyko of Saskatoon and Ticat prospect Mark Chapman would choose the Alliance of American Football over the CFL. As non-import ratio changers, one would think these guys would certainly command more than the $70k/American they’re getting down south. Finally, we got it from the horse’s mouth when Boyko told us straight up on the radio last week it was all about getting the chance to go back to the NFL.
Even if players can sign one-year deals to play in the CFL, they still have to give up at least one NFL season due to the overlap in schedules. No such problem in the Alliance. It’ll be interesting to see how Boyko, Chapman and others are treated by the AAF as they tread into their late 20’s and no longer seen as “NFL material” but would still be welcomed north of the border.
That is, if the Alliance is still around by then.
3. CFLPA COULD GAIN LEVERAGE BY WAITING: No players association has won a labour dispute with its owners since the 1994 baseball strike. Everyone entered that season with no agreement in place. The players waited until after the All-Star break and near the postseason to strike.
They screwed the owners royally because the start of the season is when the players get paid and the end of the season is when the owners get paid with things like championship revenue and TV ratings, etc.
Owners have leverage at the start of training camp and players have leverage at midseason.
It will be interesting to see if the league allows the players to enter the season without an agreement or simply locks them out before training camp starts at the end of May. My guess is the latter.
4. REVENUE SHARING ULTIMATE ANSWER: The mere word ‘equalization’ makes most of us on the prairies want to throw up. But equalization payments in the CFL from the ‘have’s’ like Saskatchewan, Edmonton and Winnipeg to the ‘have-nots’ like Toronto, Montreal and BC does have merit. The first three teams make all of the money but the last 3 teams generate the big TV and corporate sponsorship dollars. I grew up with a CFL without Montreal and it wasn’t pretty. Got to have them all or the whole thing implodes. And besides, the Argos propped up the CFL through equalization in the 1970s and early 80s so it’s not like the cleat hasn’t been on the other foot.
5. ARGO PRESIDENT A JOKE: Speaking of the Toronto Argonauts, they hosted a townhall forum over the weekend for fans of the double-blue to vent. A nice crowd of nearly 1,000, I’m told, showed up for this thing but one notable person did not: Argo President Bill Manning.
Now I’ve made it a point of clobbering Bill on this site due to his name-dropping, taking credit for Tim Leiweke’s rescuing of Toronto FC and Manning’s general lack of interest and lack of solutions for the CFL in Toronto.
And now he has one-upped himself again when he couldn’t be bothered to give up his precious Friday night to even pretend to care about what the few Argo fans who do support this tired, old brand had to say.
I’ve beaten this dead horse a million times but until these geniuses get it, I’m going to keep going.
The CFL franchises in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver desperately need a strategy to reach to immigrant populations in those cities. And until they recognize that and start even trying, we’re just going to keep having the same conversations about the Toronto Argonauts and their attendance woes.
6. RANDOM RIDER HISTORY: Long before he became one of the top offensive assistants for the Arizona Cardinals, Hall of Famer Tom Clements hit Tony Gabriel in the End Zone for “The Catch” to break hearts everywhere in Saskatchewan at the end of Grey Cup ’76. But what you probably didn’t know was that Clements even did time in that black hole mentioned earlier about the Riders 11-year playoff drought.
Freshly retired Ronnie Lancaster traded 2 players and a draft pick to Ottawa for Clements to come to Saskatchewan to solve their quarterback woes in 1979 (Do you see a pattern?).
2 touchdown passes, 11 interceptions and 7 straight season opening losses later and the Little General traded Clements away before he could get killed behind the Riders porous O-line. The Roughriders were so bad that even two of the all-time greats (Lancaster coaching and Clements quarterbacking) couldn’t solve it.
The Roughriders of today aren’t perfect but even with sub-par quarterbacking, they’re still a helluva lot better than your daddy’s Roughriders.
7. NEW ERA CFL JERSEYS: Am I the only one excited about New Era unveiling the new uniforms across the league? The Alouettes new gear looks pretty dope. I wonder what the Riders will look like.
8. DID YOU KNOW: Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly’s older brother, Randy Mattingly, was once Ron Lancaster’s backup with the Roughriders. Craig Slater did a great piece in the Leader Post a few years back, even revealing the more famous Mattingly did some time in the Queen City, before he got famous, watching his sibling dress for the green and white.
9. BOOK OF THE WEEK: From Foam Lake’s Bernie Federko ‘My Blues Note’. Curious to read his thoughts of his St. Louis Blues very nearly moving to Saskatoon in the spring of ’83.
10. ON THE AIR THIS WEEK: Helping Darren Dupont with the Pats and Broncos game Wednesday night on Access Communications and then covering for the Sports Cage on Thursday.
(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendanhowardmc)