Welcome to Friday! Here are the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always they come in no particular order.
--I'll get to the Riders first, but first.....
This is what it was like on the Regina Rams bench in the final seconds as they came back to beat the University of Manitoba Bisons in a heartstopping 41-38 win over Manitoba. For the 2nd straight week, it looked as if Regina was going to lose a lead in the 4th quarter and the game, but a fumble deep in their end late was all Noah Picton needed.
He calmly led the team down the field for the winning touchdown ending a night in which he threw for 490 yards and four touchdowns. In two games this season. he has thrown for just under 1000 yards and eight TD's. It was asked after the game if the 490 is a Taylor Field/Mosaic Stadium record. It is not as Doug Flutie threw for 547 in October of 93 (thanks to Rob Vanstone for that). The win is Steve Bryce's first (putting him one ahead of Mike Gibson in Rams lore) and it won't be his last. It is wins like that which can propel a team to the next level. It is wins like that that players will remember for a long time. What a night!
--The Saskatchewan Roughriders are back at the place where things started to unravel for the organization in 2014 as they are in Winnipeg for the Banjo Bowl. We will never know what the fortunes of this football club would have been like if Darian Durant doesn't suffer a season-ending elbow injury in that game, Sadly, Rider fans know the rest of the story.
--Durant's future with the football club has been discussed as this is the last year of his contract. I can't see the Riders having another quarterback to take the first snap for the team at the new Mosaic Stadium than number 4. Yes, at 34 years of age, you have to start thinking about what life post-Durant will be like, but we aren't at that stage yet and shouldn't be. It sounds like Chris Jones wants his marquee player in green for a while yet, and Durant has constantly said this is where he wants to be. Get it done and get it done soon so an announcement can be made in the second half of the season which brings some positivity in what has largely been a negative season.
--Why is the Banjo Bowl being played on a Saturday instead of the traditional Sunday? The Bombers usually have their version of Fan Fun Day like the Riders had last weekend. If Winnipeg thinks this will keep Rider Nation away, forget about it. God help the Manitoba capital if you unleash the green-clad fan onto the streets after a Riders win. It may never be the same!
--Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge is not going to come to Regina for the Plaza of Honor dinner later this month. It was mutually agreed upon between the league and the team that Orridge should perhaps stay away. This is the right move. There is a great deal of tension between the league and the football club right now. Plaza of Honor night is to induct Matt Dominguez and Ivan Gutfriend and to celebrate their time with the green-and-white. It is not the time for ill will and perhaps have something occur that shouldn't from some fan who does something which will ruin the evening. It should also be noted Orridge wasn't here for the press conference last week when the keys to the new Mosaic were handed over. Don't you think he should have been in attendance for that? I do!
--Orridge may not get any heat from Rider Nation at the Plaza dinner, but I am guessing it will come his way at Grey Cup. His "state of the league" address during Grey Cup week to both reporters and fans may be the highlight of the week.
--As the 2nd half of the season gets going, everyone seems to already be declaring the Calgary Stampeders champs. There is no doubt they have been the best team in the first half, but apparently people are forgetting about Zach Collaros and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Don't give the Stamps a coronation yet folks.
--Week 1 NFL Lock of the Week -- Bengals over Jets
Upset of the Week --Titans over Vikings
Playoff Teams AFC: Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Chiefs (Wildcard: Bengals, Raiders)
NFC: Redskins, Packers, Panthers, Seahawks (Wildcard: Cardinals, Falcons)
--I know the trolls will be out when I say this, but when it comes time to hand out the Vince after Super Bowl 51, it will go to the Seattle Seahawks. They will enact revenge for their loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl 49 by beating the Patriots to win their 2nd NFL championship.
--Speaking of the Seahawks, Regina's own Jon Ryan has been named a captain of the team for the 3rd straight year. Well done Ginja Ninja....well done indeed.
--CFL fans be honest. When the clock hits 11 AM Sunday morning, are you watching the Alouettes-Argos or the early slate of opening week 1 NFL games. Be honest! If you are truly watching the Montreal-Toronto, good for you!
--Will there ever be a musical act for Grey Cup halftime that everyone can agree on? We all know the answer to that. I am OK with "One Republic", but I do agree with those who ask why the CFL is all of a sudden abandoning Canadian acts. There are many of them who could grace BMO Field. Many in all different styles of music. I am not a Drake fan, but you can't tell me, he wouldn't go over in Toronto. There are also many great Canadian country acts which could be showcased as well. This is the Canadian Football League....it is a chance to celebrate the Canadian game so why not use Canadian acts when doing that? It shouldn't be that hard!
--What is happening with the Blue Jays? Could they miss the playoffs altogether? This weekend against Boston is one or two levels beyond huge! Here's an idea---don't pitch R-A Dickey!
--Congratulations to Phil Andrews. He is moving from being a co-worker with me at 620 CKRM to take on the position of director of media and communications for the Regina Pats. Good things happen to good people. Phil is obviously the exception of the rule. KIDDING! It will be different not seeing him around the station around the time, but he will excel with the Pats.
--Congratulations to Trent Cassan. He is leaving the SJHL's Yorkton Terriers to become an assistant coach with the Calgary Hitmen, During my short time with the SJHL, Cassan and Humboldt's Dean Brockman were two of the better guys to work with and were complete professionals. It isn't surprising to see his career move on to the next level.
--No congratulations to Canada's national mens soccer team. It will be another World Cup missed as they were eliminated from contention this week. Canada has been to one World Cup. ONE!! That was back in the 80's when the event was in Mexico. I guess we know what we are doing with the womens program, but not the mens. It's sad to think we can't even beat the Honduras' and El Salvadors of the world, but that is the stark reality. SIGHHHH!!!
That's all I got. GO RIDERS! and oh yes, GO SEAHAWKS!!