Tuesday, November 26, 2013

24 Hours Later


There are moments you will always remember in your life. The night of November 24 will go down as one of those moments.  As I walked into Mosaic Stadium on Sunday afternoon for Grey Cup 101, I knew I would walk out having seen the Saskatchewan Roughriders win the CFL championship for the 4th time. What I didn't know is just what would happen around me as that was occurring. It was a night to remember for so many different ways. A night that capped off what I think was a great lead-up to the game as football fans from across this country came together to celebrate the game. Here are some thoughts about Grey Cup week and the Grey Cup game

--The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were screwed the moment they got off the plane. They felt that cold Prairie air and I think for some it was when can we leave. Kent Austin said he wanted his team to practice in the cold on Wednesday after seeing their faces when they landed Tuesday. When I read quotes of some players in Thursday's Leader-Post including one from punter Josh Bartel where he said he would be doing a lot of complaining if it was this cold, I knew the Riders had it in the bag

--Corey Chamblin was the winner of the week as far as I am concerned. The Riders head coach was in the Grey Cup in only his 2nd year as a  head coach. It was his first appearance and some, including me, referred to him as a rookie head coach. He acted more like a cagey vet who had been through this a time or two before. The magnitude of the moment did not swallow him up. He was as loose as could be. When he was asked about what he thought about Kent Austin's banner hanging off the side of Mosaic, he said he drives in the other way so he doesn't see it while his statement about players having sex the night before the game if they remain focused and they will get all the sex they want if they win were the quotes of the week.

--Neil Donnelly and his crew should be saluted for the job they did with the events surrounding the game. There are some who were upset they couldn't get into Riderville or the team parties because the venues were jammed. What else were they supposed to do? I would have loved to gone into Riderville for a few after the Big and Rich concert Saturday night, but when everyone is going to the same spot, you aren't going to get in. It doesn't matter where the Grey Cup is, it seems Riderville just isn't big enough. I don't know what you do if you are the football team. You find the biggest spot available and it still isn't big enough. What a nice problem to have.

--I didn't get his name and I should of. There is a limo bus driver out there who came through for Mrs. Scruffy and I big-time thanks to a Regina Transit bus driver who needs a lesson or two. We took the shuttle and we got on the same bus we got on to head to Evraz  Place. Our bus was jammed going back, but he failed to stop at Vic Square much to the chagrin of myself, my wife and three others on the bus. When we asked the driver what was up, he said we had gotten on the wrong bus, but one person said he had said yes, I am stopping at Vic Square. When he was asked to drop us off at the corner of Vic and Fleet he outright refused. I don't know how those three got home, but I found the limo bus at the Best Western Eastgate. The driver had no problem in taking us home if we didn;t mind who we were going to be riding with-------that would be the band from Big and Rich. That was no problem. A huge thank you to that individual. I couldn't help but wonder though on the drive from the hotel to our place "What was Big and Rich doing staying at the Best Western Eastgate?" Nothing against that hotel, but I thought the band would be staying at one of the downtown hotels.

--Was it just me or were there a lack of Eskimos fans in Regina. I saw a lot of people wearing the jerseys of other teams, but I only saw a couple of people wearing Edmonton jerseys. Has it gotten THAT bad in the Alberta capital?

--Were the Ti-Cats trying to use the disrespect card as a motivator? They said all week this felt like a Riders game and Henry Burris says he was embarrassed at the CFL player awards because it seemed more like a Riders pep rally. Cmon Hank, we all know you're smarter than that. What would you expect to happen in football-crazed Saskatchewan where we celebrate the CFL like no other place. When we have proud alumni here, we will use them, I'm surprised Burris didn't chastise TSN for having an ex-Rider on their broadcast team.

--Now to the game itself.  It was a distinct honour to have a part in the 620 CKRM broadcast on what was the biggest Sunday for CFL fans. I didn't do a lot, but having the chance to talk the game and the week with Rod Pedersen along with co-hosting the half-time show with Phil Andrews was a tremendous treat. I knew the Ti-Cats were in big trouble when chatting with Rod as the crowd--which was about a third full at the time started yelling HENNNNNNN-RYYYYYYYYY and there were still two hours to go until kickoff. They were loud then!!!!! If it is that loud then, what would it be in two hours time. We found out.

--The league didn't like it and I'm guessing TSN didn't like it, but I loved the fact the Riders said screw it to the introductions and came out as a team. GM Brendan Taman revealed on the Sportscage Monday afternoon that he knew it was going to happen about 15 minutes before it did. The team will supposedly get fined for that act. WHO CARES???

--As the game started, I sat behind Rod and Carm. I was just over an arms length away from the pair and I could not hear them when Hamilton had the ball. If I couldn't hear those guys, how on earth could Burris guide his offense. As we know, he couldn't.

--In the 2nd half, I wandered down to Pilsner Place where the media was assembled. How could they see the game from there with fans standing up. I stood in between Global's Kent Morrison and CTV's Lindsay Dunn while talking to Morrison and he couldn't see anything. The sound was muffled as well which took away the ambience. Hey, at least those guys didn't have to walk up the ramps!!! Once again though, what are you supposed to do.

--Were the football gods watching? Of course they were. Its not every day your quarterback fumbles and the ball bounces right up in the air and into the arms of your all-star running back who takes it for 39 yards. Who knows what happens if the Riders don't get that bounce.

--Standing in the endzone waiting for the final seconds to tick off seemed like an eternity. What was it like in the stands. I had my camera focused on the scoreboard for this picture-----its the moment the clock hit zero.

--Darian Durant, as the LP's Rob Vanstone so eloquently wrote in Monday's must have edition of the paper, has ascended to the position of Riders royalty. Has a Rider quarterback ever had a three game performance like what Durant had to lead his team to the Cup. I'd have to go back and look at the playoff numbers Ronnie, Kent and Kerry put up, but I doubt it. As I have preached for a long time, Darian Durant is one of the best quarterbacks that has ever worn the green and white. I will always say if Durant did not break his ribs in 2008 the Riders would have gone to and perhaps win the Cup. That injury resulted in the Michael Bishop acquisition, I don't want to go any further. Durant had words for his detractors after the game and I had no problem with him saying what he did because he had the right to and his comments were absolutely right. The same could be said for Brendan Taman,

--Still with Rob and the LP, a tip of the hat to Rob, Murray McCormick and Ian Hamilton for the outstanding supplements provided. I don't know how those guys don't have writers cramp after the work and the articles they put in. I've always maintained there is no better sports section in Western Canada if not Canada than the one found in the Leader-Post. Rob and his cronies deserve some recognition to be thrown their way.

 --I spoke with many players for both my Riderville and CKRM duties. One of those players was Tyron Brackenridge. It must have been his duty to get guys wet, because after saying "Hey you're dry", he proceeded to then just soak me with two cans of beer. Thanks for that Brack! I found out Monday morning he also gave Premier Brad Wall a good beer bath so I guess I wasn't alone.

 --Being on the field and in the dressing room, I wanted to find guys who were on the field in 2009 and 2010 and couldn't feel the joy they were experiencing now. For guys like Dressler, Getzlaf, Shologan, etc. etc and see the looks on their face after having been here to be denied. The looks and emotions were what you would think.

--I had to seek out Jim Hopson. Jim knows my thoughts about this team and in 07, he knew the victory meant a lot to me. I'm sure he knew the same thing on Sunday night. The respect I have for the Riders president and CEO is immeasurable. Yes, he may have walked in at the right time, but he has built a tremendous group around him and its gotten to the point where he has built this team to be the CFL's elite franchise. This team as you know is no longer the poor little team on the prairies fighting to stay competitive. This is THE model franchise in the CFL. The on-field product has gotten to the Grey Cup game four times in the last seven years and that is nothing to sneeze at while you know what is happening off the field.

 --How much money just in December will Rider merchandise raise. If Rider fans don't get at least one Grey Cup champion item under their Christmas tree something will be wrong. MEMO TO SELF: Get to the Rider store today to buy a shirt!

 --Watching the game on TSN was tremendous. TSN did their usual game day Grade A performance and the old girl looked great. I loved the aerial shots of the stadium and the city.

--There's so much more I could talk about, but in the end, it all hit home Monday afternoon at 530. Brendan Taman brought the Grey Cup into the CKRM studios. It wasn't there for a promotional purpose like the Purolator Feed Hunger campaign or something else---it was there because Taman and the Riders had earned it and Brendan wanted the gang to see it. Holding that Cup was a once in a lifetime feeling.

--At the end of the day, the Riders are the champs and as Rod and I discussed Monday, everything ends on the side of the green and white. You can't criticize Taman, you can't criticize Durant, the Simon signing paid off huge at the end, the Anderson signing was tremendous, Cortez's offense can't be questioned, Hall's defense can't be questioned. The list goes on and on and on but in the end, it all turns up Riders. 2013 is over, but the memories will last all winter long and into 2014.

--Its only been 24 hours, but it still seems pretty fresh in my mind. I'm guessing I could say that in one months time, one years time and ten  years time as well. What a night! We will never experience something like that again. Mosaic's best moment was one of its last ones. When the wrecking ball hits, there may be a cheer or two that was trapped that will escape. 

--Your thoughts are always welcome! May your Tuesday have more productivity to it than your Monday because I'm guessing not many of us were working at full-speed. Can you really blame us?


Glenn said...

Great insight Mitch!

Anonymous said...

Good work outta you, Mitch.

Glad you got a chance to be a part of it, and got to hold that cup high yourself for a moment.


Anonymous said...

When Glen Suitor talked about Darian's injuries it all made sense. In 2009 he played his guts out and was one first down from winning the grey cup. In 2010 he was hurt and you could tell he wasn't himself. The defence stepped up he just couldn't answer. Last year in Calgary he had them one defensive series away and the D let it slip. He did all he could. I doubted him this year a little with the inconsistent play (7 yard outs that he skipped) but I do now feel guilty because he was injured. Injured and he still had over 30 TD passes. As I said on Facebook Darian Durant will now and forever be #4 for the Riders. 4th QB to win a cup with Saskatchewan.

Thanks for all your notes Mitch. Always enjoy reading the blog. Enjoy your off season.

Russ from Saskatoon

Mike from Vita, MB said...

Rider fans can die with a smile on their face!

Anonymous said...

Mitch, the people that complained they couldn’t get into venues because they were full, well that is just tough luck as the venues are only a certain size and it is first come first serve.

The issue (I along with a number of other people) had was standing in line out in -25 weather to get into the Mosaic Underground tent only to get inside and it was only half full, and yes this happened to me on two separate day’s.

The set up with only two people accepting payment, one person putting on wrist bands, etc. was totally unacceptable and I can't think of how much money was lost by the Grey Cup Committee because people were standing in line when they could have been having a $7.00 beer inside with lots of room to move around.

If anyone from the organizing committee is telling you or other media it was because it was at capacity it is an outright false because I talked to security and they said it was because a lack of people accepting payment at the entrance.

A similar thing happened at Riderville where people stood in line for 30 minutes + and when you get into Riderville there was plenty of room. Again the bottleneck was because there was only two people scanning wristbands.

Anonymous said...

I hope A) You, Pedersen and the rest of the CKRM crew are just laughing at the way you kicked CJME's ass throughout Grey Cup week. Having the Cage at Riderville and the guests you had on beat the Green Zone daily. I don't even know how people can listen to that show.

B)the people at CJME realize just how stupid they were in letting you go. The interviews you had were phenomenal and once again beat anything those other clowns tried to have.

If there was any doubt before, you are in the right spot now Scruffy. You are with winners and not losers like 90 percent of the Rawlconians.


Anonymous said...

24 hours later and I still can't believe I was sitting there watching it with the tears rolling down my eyes at the end. Seeing the Riders win at the Grey Cup is amazing. Seeing them win it in their own damn park is something we may never ever see again.