With barely six weeks left until they play the Grey Cup at BC Place in Vancouver, this has definitely been one of the strangest seasons in the recent history of three down football in Canada.
Touchdowns by the offensive units have been rare, and penalty flags have been far too numerous. The Eastern Conference champion this year will be lucky to finish with a 500 record.
Despite recent rule changes designed to protect quarterbacks, half a dozen of the nine starters in the CFL have been out for extended periods of time with injury. In Saskatchewan, the Roughriders are ‘doubtful’ to repeat as Grey Cup champions because the guys behind Darian Durant on the depth chart are just not ready. Drew Willy, who backed up Durant last year, is now the starter in Winnipeg, and has been taking a terrible pounding behind a mediocre offensive line for the Blue Bombers.
A crowd of 42,000 was on hand in Edmonton last week to watch the Riders get ‘shut out’ for the first time in 28 years. Close to half the fans were supporting Saskatchewan. It was the biggest CFL crowd of the season so far, but not that long ago, a Rider game at Commonwealth would have attracted more than 60,000.
I wore my green and white jersey at the Labour Day Classic in Regina, surrounded by green drunks and blue drunks. In my youth I lived for such experiences. Now I say “bless TSN and my PVR, and indoor plumbing”. More and more, football is becoming a TV event, and you wonder where it’s all heading.
I’m told that the Grey Cup game is a long way from being sold out. Imagine Dragons, a very hot band, based in Las Vegas, has been booked to perform at half time. Clearly the whole experience is not about me and the other 60 somethings. It’s really not even that much about football any more.
I’m Roger Currie