Sunday, November 29, 2009
My Thoughts On Today's Game
We all hope to see the Saskatchewan Roughriders in this position every year, but reality is there are not many of us that thought we would sit down in front of our TV's or at a sports bar or even sit in McMahon Stadium today watching the green and white play for the CFL championship today.
The Rider Nation knew this team was better than what many said. We knew there would be some growing pains with Darian Durant, we questioned Tad Kornegay playing linebacker, we bemoaned the fact they couldn't stop the run, we criticized head coach Ken Miller and we cheered our hearts out each and every game as this team took us on a great ride. From Chris Getzlaf's last second TD in Calgary to that putrid effort in Hamilton, we experienced many highs and many lows. A win today will certainly be the highest of high, but if for some reason the Alouettes should deliver a one-sided victory today(which I don't think will happen), it won't be the lowest of lows.
Darian Durant has shown us what the future holds at quarterback and the future is very bright for this organization in a variety of areas. Two Grey Cup appearances if not victories in three years is nothing to sneeze at. The Riders are no longer considered a fluke to be in the big game. In fact, it may be expected by some now and that's not a bad thing.
As I watch today's game, I will think of guys like Scott Schultz and Matt Dominguez wondering what is going through their minds as their compadres fight it out. I will also think of Eric Tillman and how it is too bad that he is not there to celebrate his accomplishments. I understand the decision not to have Tillman there as it would have been a major league distraction, but one can not argue what footprints he has on this team. Believe it or not, I will think of Roy Shivers and Danny Barrett. Say what you will about the two gentlemen, but they started this team on the road to respectability. That road only went so far and Jim Hopson was needed to tune the car up to get it over the hill.
What I'm basically saying is a loss today is not the end of the world, its just a momentary blip. Don't hope this team is back at GC 2010 in Edmonton, expect it. That's what the organization's mindset will be.
Now the game. There is no doubting Montreal is a more talented team from top to bottom. They win many of the positional battles. Their offence is electric and their defence is stifling. The green and white will have to be at the top of their game from player 1-42 if they are going to win. However, we all know the Alouettes record in the GC and with that veteran lineup, you have to think if the Riders get ahead or stay close with Montreal, doubt will set in. 45-thousand people will be cheering against the Alouettes. I can't recall the last time Montreal will have played in an environment that is hostile towards them. The 13th man will definitely be front and center today. The last reason I think they win is destiny. I walked out of Mosaic Stadium on the night they beat BC in overtime saying I am now convinced they win the Grey Cup. Everything has fallen into place for this football team and now it is time for two men who didn't get a lot of respect this year to have their moment in the sun----that is Darian Durant and Ken Miller. Yes I'm biased, but the Riders will win this game today 29-24.
I've been meaning to put this up all week and I keep forgetting. Here are seven reasons from Winnipeg Free Press writer Randy Turner as to why you should be a Riders fan. I don't disagree with any of this.
1. Canadian content
Like most solid CFL teams, the Roughriders play more Canadians than legally required. Not just special teamers, either. In sweeping the Stamps this year, the Riders squadron of Canuck receivers -- Rob Bagg, Andy Fantuz and Chris Getzlaf -- were front and centre. Fittingly, all three scored majors in the West final. Meanwhile, one of the most beloved Riders is Stu Foord, the Viking-ish fullback who is the second coming of Chris Szarka.
2. Ken Miller
When the old dude was promoted to head coach, replacing Kent Austin, it looked like they put Grampa Simpson in charge. Miller must be the most low-key, uncharasmatic head man in the loop -- at least, from afar -- and sometimes you just like to see good things happen to football coaches who aren't narcissists who create more headlines than victories. Not that we're mentioning any names or anything.
3. Brendan Taman
See Miller. Although Taman has never won a Grey Cup as an executive, he's lost a couple in Winnipeg and had two teams win championships the year after he left them. Dude is not exactly a good-luck charm. But less than a year after seeing the writing on the wall in Winnipeg, it looks like Taman might find the holy grail among his own kind in Saskatchewan.
I can't help it. Seeing that giant rodent with a beer belly always makes me laugh. I mean, compare that to the creepy-looking blow-up contraption that serves as the Als mascot and any connoisseur of sideline critters would take the gopher. In fact, Gainer looks a lot like Yogi Bear without the hat. Maybe that's why seeing him triggers cravings of pic-a-nic baskets.
5. Rider Priders
Face it, this is Manitoba, so we love to take shots at our country cousins to the West. But aren't you just a bit envious looking at the sellout crowds at Mosaic Stadium and seeing that sea of green. Tens of thousands of them, from all over the province. The Melonheads abound. One lady held a sign that read, "I Could Eat a Horse." So they did. Compare that rabid scene to the 20,000 or so that bothered to show up to the second-last Bombers home game. Now you know why the Riders have the nerve -- and the cash -- to think they can build a $350-million domed stadium.
6. Grey Cup Party
To say the host team won't play in Calgary's Grey Cup is not entirely true. There are supposed to be more Saskatchewaneans living in Alberta these days than live in Regina. As you are reading, countless Roughriders fans are making harried arrangements to find transportation and lodging in Cowtown. They will settle for transportation.
7. And our final reason the Riders should win the Grey Cup:
Because they could do it with a weapon the Bombers haven't developed in a generation -- a young quarterback moulded from scratch. That's right, Darian Durant is everything the Bombers were desperate for this past season; a pivotal star of the future who was recruited and mentored in Regina before patiently earning the No. 1 job.
Want to rag on those Melonheads? Go ahead. Just remember they have pretty much everything Bombers faithful don't.