Finally Rider nation. The finish line is in sight. Another off-season can be put behind us and you can start concentrating on the 2009 season. It was a long winter, and training camp has been nice, but you really haven’t had the chance to cheer on your football heroes since that disastrous performance in the Western Semi-Final. You didn’t get the opportunity to celebrate a Grey Cup championship in Montreal like you did in Toronto the year earlier but you certainly didn’t let that dissuade you from showing up and reminding the CFL that there are no better fans than the ones that support the green and white.
You said goodbye –or maybe good riddance—to Michael Bishop, you welcomed back a native son with open arms as Jason Clermont returned. He wasn’t the only one as Jordan Rempel also returned home to the province where football is revered. You were surprised over the Eric Tillman news. No matter where you went, you were talking Riders football. You lost a great defensive co-ordinator in Richie Hall and two all-star linebackers in Maurice Lloyd and Anton McKenzie but your optimism never wavered. Your confidence never suffered. Your allegiances to the green and white stayed as strong as ever if not stronger.
You can’t wait to carve out that first melon-helmet, you can’t wait to slip on that jersey for the first time, you can’t wait to smell the burgers as you walk by or walk on the practice field. You can’t wait to yell “DE-FENCE” when Gainer urges you on.
You want to know if Darian Durant will become an established CFL quarterback. How many balls will Andy Fantuz catch?. Will Wes Cates be the best all-around running back in the CFL? Will Renauld Williams make you go Maurice who??
You are ready to serenade Henry Burris and Wally Buono in only the way you know how. You are ready for another year of Saskatchewan Roughrider football. A year of football that you hope does not end until November 29 at MacMahon Stadium. Take a deep breath, one more sleep and then its gameday--albeit an exhibition game. Then again, it is football isn't it.