Tag Archives: CFL

Did the Saskatchewan Roughriders work out Jonny Manziel?

From Sportsnet

The Saskatchewan Roughriders find themselves at the centre of yet another controversy after a report from 3Down Nation alleged the team worked out former college and NFL star Johnny Manziel in January prior to the Senior Bowl.

Since Manziel is on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ negotiation list, a workout with the Riders would be a violation of CFL rules.

“We are investigating,” the league’s director of communications Paulo Senra said in a statement provided to Sportsnet. “The Riders tell us that they did not work out Manziel. So at this point, it appears the report is false. Should other evidence come to light, we will deal with it accordingly.”

Chris Jones, Saskatchewan’s head coach, GM and VP of football operations, denied the allegations with the following statement: “The Saskatchewan Roughriders have not held or attended a workout involving Johnny Manziel. With that, I will not be commenting further on the report.”

f the report turns out to be true, it’s unclear at this point what the possible punishment will be but this wouldn’t the first time the Riders have broken league rules. The team was fined and had its salary cap reduced during the 2016 season for practising with ineligible players.

I am going to believe Chris Jones on this but if it comes out the Riders did work out Manziel, I am not going to be surprised. 

Recipes for the ultimate Grey Cup Party

Recipes fit for the ultimate Grey Cup Party

For those of you holding a Grey Cup (or a Western or Eastern Division playoff game), check  out Wendy’s collection of recipes for watching the big game.  There will definitely be something that is appropriate for the big game festivities this year, no matter who is playing.

Some thoughts of the Saskatchewan Roughriders

I missed the game today.  We were out hiking the Mud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National Park.  I did hear the train wreck that was the postgame show.

  1. This is a pattern of Brendan Taman.  He takes over a team that makes it to the Grey Cup, won’t challenge or change the roster and within a couple of years the team is old and horrible.  It is what happened in Winnipeg and is what is happening in Regina.  There is a reason why Hugh Campbell turned over 30% of his Edmonton Eskimos roster during his dynasty years.  Time is undefeated and the message that no one is sacred is a powerful one.
  2. I don’t think a CFL team should ever hire a Canadian GM.  The best football in the world collegiately is being played in the SEC and has for years.  I think you need a GM that has strong ties in the SEC or the ACC, like Roy Shivers or Eric Tillman.  It is connection with high school coaches, university position coaches and even junior college coaches who can help you identify you players that aren’t on the national radar but can help your football team.
  3. Speaking of Eric Tillman, is it too soon to consider bringing him back?  I think it is but some will consider it.
  4. While I blame Brendan Taman, a lot of responsibility has to stand with Corey Chamblin.  He seems unable to identify why the Riders are playing horrible and doesn’t know how to fix it.  There have been other coaches that are good when things are going along great but can’t fix things when they run poorly (I think of Mike Singletary) because they are over their head schematically.  Chamblin seems lost and over his head right now.  So does his staff.
  5. Everyone gets on Chamblin for the penalties but I think this is on Taman.  It is the kind of players you get.  If you looked back at the player committing the most penalties, they would have a track record of doing it college and probably high school.  As Jimmy Johnson used to say, “Don’t send me stupid players because you can’t coach stupid players”.  We think talent is everything.  It isn’t.
  6. While the Winnipeg Bluebombers defense isn’t amazing, it is better than the Riders and with probably less talent.  Who is coaching that defense?  A gentlemen name Ritchie Hall, previously defensive coordinator of the Saskatchewan Roughriders… back when they had a strong defense. 
  7. I love the hoardes that get upset when you criticize the Saskatchewan Roughriders as “we are all one team”.  No, not really.  I am not on the team.  I am a fan of the team.  I buy stuff from the Rider store, I cheer for the team but what is going on with that office and that field is solely the domain of the directors, the management, coaches, and players.  I don’t get a Grey Cup ring when they win and I am allowed to criticize the team when they are this bad.
  8. Speaking of bad, Chamblin’s post game interview was horrible when he offered up that there were issues with Brett Smith being benched and not being able to go back in.  Umm, why offer that up if you aren’t going to expand on it.  All it does it create speculation and media attention around you rookie QB and create a distraction when you are entering week 11 and still trying to win a game.  Also,  I was really disgusted by CKRM (I think it was Mitchell Blair but I could be wrong) asking Chamblin if he thought he would be fired.  This is a man’s livelihood we are talking about and how did they really expect him to answer that?  “Yes I think I should be fired”.  If It was Chamblin I would have said, “Thanks but I am done with this interview.”
  9. So what’s next for the Riders?  New stadium coming online in two years.  Do they trust Taman to be able to rebuild the Riders for that season?  From his track record, I don’t think I would.

The NFL Season in Review

Many of you are aware that I said goodbye to the NFL this fall after the Ray Rice scandal hit and wonder how I did.  Here are my thoughts of the NFL season that never was.

  • I still watched some football.  I am a Notre Dame fan and of course Mark plays high school football (where he played every position on the defence this season).  I enjoyed a lot of it.  I also came to grips that I am not a CFL fan.  I wish I was a bigger one but I really am not.
  • We cancelled cable and I got rid of my NFL Now subscription.  That hurt a bit but I vowed not to give the NFL any money in 2014.  I didn’t.
  • I spent my Sundays with Wendy which was time well spent.  We went for coffee at City Perk, out for walks, and explored the city.
  • I realized how much time some of my friends spend watching the NFL.  Sunday, Monday, and Thursdays.   That’s a lot of time in front of a television.
  • After spending 25 years a die hard Denver Broncos fan, it was weird not to know how they were doing during the season.
  • Despite giving up on the game, I still heard a lot about Jonny Football.  That isn’t a good thing.
  • I am still a fan of the game but Roger Goodall makes the game almost impossible to respect.  Even if you get past him, you have Jerry Jones, Jerry Richardson, Woody Johnson, Jimmy Haslam, Jerry Jones (whose stadium uses more oil than Liberia on game days), and of course Daniel Snyder who are all owners who have done horrible things.  Of course the NFL and other leagues all have horrible owners (Darryl Katz anyone?) but the idea of me giving my money to them really bothers me.  Again, I’m not calling for a boycott, it’s just a personal decision.
  • I have spent a little more time watching the Raptors (maybe because they are good), the Calgary Flames (after we had a breakup back in the late 90s during the second last lockout) and while I can’t watch such bad hockey, I find myself enamoured by the train wreck that is the Edmonton Oilers.
  • I should link to this, other pro sports owners are horrible humans as well.
  • In the end, not watching the NFL wasn’t really that big of deal.  It is a bunch of millionaire athletes playing a child’s game in the hope of winning a championship which will somehow validate themselves in their minds.  It’s fun to watch but doesn’t matter a lot to me in the big picture.
  • It is also a big business in which local communities are pitted against each other to keep their billionaire franchise owners even richer.  That part is what I find so offensive.
  • I was happy to see the NFL take a tougher stance against Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson but at the same time, this should have been done decades ago.  For all of the Ray Rice’s, there was a Warren Moon who was never suspended.  I am hoping there are changes moving forward but I am still going to take a wait and see.  I just have no faith in Goodall or owners like Richardson who won’t cut or suspend Greg Hardy.

Contextless Thoughts

  • After the Saskatoon Transit lockout is done, I can’t see Ann Iwanchuk winning a second full term.  Especially with Mike San Miguel quietly running again.  Her campaign was largely financed by labour and with the city attacking the ATU like it did, her slim margin of victory, her constituents relying on Transit heavily, and a lack of a signature issue so far, it could be really tough to win re-election.
  • It could hurt Clark and Loewen with their base and could mobilize the non voting parts of Ward 2 to really hurt Lorje.  I am not saying councillors will lose their seats but rather could face much tougher re-election races than they would have.  The right opponents will capitalize on this.
  • Despite what people think, this won’t hurt the mayor at all.  That is what the attack ads are targeted to protect (at the expense of councillors).  In many ways he could come out of this the winner, especially if this weakens rivals and empowers his base which to be honest, never rides a bus.
  • Of course the city being the city, coincided the lockout with the Mayor’s Cultural Gala.  You had some city councillors tweeting pictures of the city’s elite having a fun time while lower class people were being kicked off buses and having to walk home.  
  • Why would the city run attack ads against the very union it needs to negotiate with on the first day.  Saskatoon already has laughable communications and that didn’t exactly make the city look good.  Of course the political nature of the ads was bizarre.  Several city councillors swore to me that they never had any foreknowledge of the ads until they ran but both city staff and some others on council say that council saw and approved the ads in an in-camera session of executive committee.  It’s not exactly breaking news that council members lie to me on issues.  
  • Speaking of executive committees, it would be a lot easier for them to lie to me if council and staff stopped leaking what happened in there.  If only they had a way to investigate the leaks…
  • I have had several discouraging conversations with people who are utterly dependent on the bus for work, to provide care for a spouse who is in a nursing home, to get to school.  In Saskatoon we call those people collateral damage.
  • It is weird to hear councillors go all out in defence of their real fiduciary duty but ignore their responsibility to those who rely on a public service.  Empathy for those who have been hurt by this strike has not been something that has been communicated well.
  • I don’t really miss the NFL.  You would think I would after watching it every week since 1987 but I haven’t.   I glance at some scores but other than that, I haven’t really missed it.  I still have some college football, the Huskies, and the CFL but I have never cared about them like the NFL.
  • Brady Hoke needs to be fired from the University of Michigan.  He sent back out a quarterback with a concussion back onto the field.  That should be a fireable offence in any league (including when the Calgary Stampeders did it a couple of years ago in a playoff game against the Riders).  You send out a player with a brain injury, you are fired or suspended, especially in the NCAA.
  • What could Stephen Harper be thinking?  $300,000 courtesy ride for a couple of European diplomats because he wanted to have them at a reception?  Does he just not care anymore?  That does not look like a move by a politician who is planning on re-election.  Not only that but there is still widespread opposition to the deal in Germany.
  • The NFL is talking with Texas head coach Charlie Strong who has taken some strong steps in dealing with player misconduct. “We can’t compromise and sometimes that means getting rid of the best player.”
  • If you are a big company and you want to associate your brand with a strong event, I’d talk to the people behind Nuit Blanche right now.  Over 5000 people were on 20th Street last night for the inaugural event and it was a big time success.  People were partying, shopping, and hanging out all over the place.  What a great event.  Someone needs to step up and get behind it in 2015 monetarily so it can get bigger.
  • After reading this piece by Cathal Kelly, you will realize that the Blue Jays will never get any better than they are now.  So yeah, that kind of sucks.

What every professional sports league can learn from Donald Sterling

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio is talking about the NFL learning from the debacle that is Donald Sterling but the lessons are universal.

While it remains impossible to open a window into a person’s soul to see whether the poison of racism resides there, it is possible to screen those whose words and actions suggest that they harbor such beliefs.

Donald Sterling’s words and actions suggest that he does. And the evidence existed long before TMZ published its tape of his voice.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Sterling agreed in 2009 to a $2.765 million settlement of charges that he discriminated against African-Americans and others at an apartment building he owned. The Times also reports that a lawsuit filed in 2003 accused Sterling of saying “Hispanics smoke, drink and just hang around the building,” and that “black tenants smell and attract vermin.” The case was resolved with a confidential settlement, but Sterling reportedly paid $5 million in legal fees to the plaintiffs.

Amazingly, those claims and the settlements of those claims generated little or no publicity or scorn of Sterling. If an NFL owner were accused of such conduct, the mere allegations would become major national news. If an NFL owner ever settled a case involving such allegations, the league office undoubtedly would be forced to take decisive action or face strong contentions of the existence of a double standard.

It’s all the more reason for the NFL to treat this occasion as the catalyst for ensuring that its house — specifically, its 32 houses — are in order. Existing owners should be warned clearly about the potential consequences of such conduct. Potential owners should be screened even more carefully to determine that they have done or said nothing that would suggest that their hearts are rotten with racism or other qualities that could result in their wealth and power being used to violate the rights of others.

Per a league source, NFL owners already expect Commissioner Roger Goodell to address the situation in some way at the next ownership meetings in May.

It’s often impossible to get to the truth of a person’s attitudes regarding matters of race. But the Sterling situation underscores the importance of taking all reasonably available steps to ensure that the country’s biggest sports business is doing business with people who have not only the wealth to assume such an important responsibility, but also the character.

100 Ideas to Improve Saskatoon: 6. Do something with Cairns Field

I love Cairns Field.  It seats 5000 people which is small enough to feel cozy yet large enough to feel like an event.  The best part of it is that if you are there, you are watching some pretty good baseball being played by the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets on a warm Saskatoon summer night.

Cairns Field

The bad part about Cairns Field is it’s location.  It’s tucked away between Holiday Park and the South Industrial section.  It’s hard to get to and even hard to find.  I have had more than one person that was going to meet us at the game text and ask, “now where exactly is this Cairns Field”.

Cairns Field represents Saskatoon’s best chance at professional sports.  Professional basketball in Canada is the Toronto Raptors, we aren’t big enough for MLS or even NASL soccer, the CFL won’t put an additional team in Saskatchewan, and those that think that the NHL is coming are delusional (I’ve heard the arguments and they aren’t based in reality).  Minor league baseball (and maybe an AHL team) is the one team that can thrive in Saskatoon but it’s going to be hard if it is stuck back in it’s current location.

So where do you put it?  Well baseball needs to be close to downtown and close to amenities.  That is going to be a challenge anywhere in Saskatoon unless we can put it in the North Downtown redevelopment where the city yards are currently located.  

I am not saying it is ever going to happen but it would be an amazing place to walk down to and have dinner and then watch a game followed by a couple of drinks at a nearby pub.  They have done it in Winnipeg and for 50 nights each summer (plus playoffs) up to 7481 people come downtown to enjoy The Forks and watch a game (and spend money while down there).

A cozy stadium of 5,000 seats in the heart of Saskatoon with affordable ticket prices?  I can see that working.  Especially if we can find a way to up the quality of ball being played to A or AA baseball.

If that fails, maybe the city can build a decent website for the field that makes it clearer that it exists and how to get there.  That would be a good first step.

What would the end of football look like?

Relevant in Canada and the United States.  Writing for Grantland, economists Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier imagine how the NFL might end due to the increasing visibility of head injuries.

This slow death march could easily take 10 to 15 years. Imagine the timeline. A couple more college players — or worse, high schoolers — commit suicide with autopsies showing CTE. A jury makes a huge award of $20 million to a family. A class-action suit shapes up with real legs, the NFL keeps changing its rules, but it turns out that less than concussion levels of constant head contact still produce CTE. Technological solutions (new helmets, pads) are tried and they fail to solve the problem. Soon high schools decide it isn’t worth it. The Ivy League quits football, then California shuts down its participation, busting up the Pac-12. Then the Big Ten calls it quits, followed by the East Coast schools. Now it’s mainly a regional sport in the southeast and Texas/Oklahoma. The socioeconomic picture of a football player becomes more homogeneous: poor, weak home life, poorly educated. Ford and Chevy pull their advertising, as does IBM and eventually the beer companies.

What would the impact be?

Outside of sports, American human capital and productivity probably rise. No football Saturdays on college campuses means less binge drinking, more studying, better grades, smarter future adults. Losing thousands of college players and hundreds of pro players might produce a few more doctors or engineers. Plus, talented coaches and general managers would gravitate toward management positions in American industry. Heck, just getting rid of fantasy football probably saves American companies hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Other losers include anything that depends heavily on football to be financially viable, including the highly subsidized non-revenue collegiate sports. No more air travel for the field hockey teams or golf squads. Furthermore, many prominent universities would lose their main claim to fame. Alabama and LSU produce a large amount of revenue and notoriety from football without much in the way of first-rate academics to back it up. Schools would have to compete more on academics to be nationally prominent, which would again boost American education.

One of the biggest winners would be basketball. To the extent that fans replace football with another sport (instead of meth or oxy), high-octane basketball is the natural substitute. On the pro level, the season can stretch out leisurely, ticket prices rise, ratings rise, maybe the league expands (more great athletes in the pool now), and some of the centers and power forwards will have more bulk. At the college level, March Madness becomes the only game in town.

All-22

The camera angle that the NFL doesn’t want you to see.

Without the expanded frame, fans often have no idea why many plays turn out the way they do, or if the TV analysts are giving them correct information. On a recent Sunday, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith threw a deep pass to tight end Delanie Walker for a 26-yard touchdown. Daryl Johnston, the Fox color man working the game, said Smith’s throw was "placed perfectly" and that Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Corey Lynch was "a little bit late getting there."

Greg Cosell, producer of the ESPN program "NFL Matchup," who is one of the few people with access to All-22 footage, said the 49ers had purposely overloaded the right side of the field so each receiver would only be covered by one defender. Lynch, the safety, wasn’t late getting there, Cosell says. He was doing his job and covering somebody else. Johnston could not be reached for comment.

Frank Hawkins, a former NFL executive during the 1990s who is now a Scalar Media Partners consultant, says he remembers the NFL considering releasing the All 22. The biggest objection, he said, came from the football people.

Charley Casserly, a former general manager who was a member of the NFL’s competition committee, says he voted against releasing All-22 footage because he worried that if fans had access, it would open players and teams up to a level of criticism far beyond the current hum of talk radio. Casserly believed fans would jump to conclusions after watching one or two games in the All 22, without knowing the full story.

"I was concerned about misinformation being spread about players and coaches and their ability to do their job," he said. "It becomes a distraction that you have to deal with." Now an analyst for CBS, Casserly takes an hour-and-a-half train once a week to NFL Films headquarters in Mt. Laurel, N.J. just to watch the All-22 film.

Lonnie Marts, a former linebacker for the Jacksonville Jaguars, says there are thousands of former NFL players who could easily pick apart play-calling and player performance if they had access to this film. "If you knew the game, you’d know that sometimes there’s a lot of bonehead plays and bonehead coaching going on out there," he says.

If I was the CFL, I would make the All-24 video available on CFL.ca.  Not only would there be demand for it (I would pay for it), it would also show that the CFL isn’t afraid of it’s fans like the NFL apparently is.

Riders next playoff appearance in about 2018

Roughriders name Brendan Taman head of football operations

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have retained Brendan Taman as general manager and expanded his duties to include complete control over the franchise’s football operations.

The Riders announced the front-office moves today during a media conference at Mosaic Stadium. Taman has been with the Riders since 2009, spending the last two years as general manager. Ken Miller was the Riders’ head coach and vice-president of football operations. He resigned from both positions on Oct. 31, creating a void at the top of the Riders’ football operations.

Miller had been in control of the team’s football operations. That meant Taman reported to Miller as the Riders’ general manager. Taman’s previous duties included management of the salary cap and overseeing scouting and player personnel. One of Taman’s first responsibilities will be conducting a search to replace Miller as head coach.

Taman returned to the Roughriders as director of football administration in 2009. Taman, a native of Saskatoon, was promoted to general manager in 2010 after the resignation of Eric Tillman. Miller also assumed the official duties as vice-president of football operations with Tillman’s resignation.

Taman’s past track record doesn’t inspire much confidence in me.  His track record in Winnipeg was poor and he hasn’t shown a lot in Saskatchewan that would change my mind.  I guess we will see.  He can’t do much worse than what Ken Miller did last year.

2011 Year End Awards for the Saskatchewan Roughriders

These are hilarious.

The Alexander Daigle award – Hugh Charles. This award is given to the player that exemplifies a truly high level of skill, speed, and game-breaking ability (in his own mind). Then all of the sudden gives up on plays for no apparent reason. I really enjoyed watching Mr. Charles give up on chasing Keon Raymond, who returned an interception 100 yards for a TD.  Charles could have had him seven times over. It made me want to throw up a little in my mouth, but hey Hugh maybe you and  the tin man will find a heart in Edmonton.

Blackberry Curve Build Out

Blackberry Curve 8530 from Koodo MobileOn the 27th I went to Best Buy to take a look at DSLR’s on sale.  I didn’t see any DSLRs but while I was there, I saw that Koodo had dropped their price on Blackberry Curves to $150 and no contract.  I had thought about getting a LG Rumor 2 this year but after looking into it, we decided to get the Curve.  I had been quite happy with Virgin but I have had technical problems with my account for two years and it was getting worse.  While Virgin’s tech support and customer service staff have been really helpful, they still could not fix the problem so I finally decided to make the move.

Blackberry by RIMI took the phone home and started to set it up.  Here is how I put it together.

The first thing I did was get my Curve set up to our wifi connection in the house.  That wasn’t working that well.  Then I realized my router was about a billion years old (it was a 801b router) and it needed an upgrade.  Since my new router was on my desk, it was pretty easy to upgrade.  The Curve, my iPod Touch, and our notebook suddenly worked a lot faster.  I upgraded my old router’s firmware and will give it Computers for Kids and if they don’t want it, it can go to SARCAN.

Here is are the apps that made their way onto it over the last couple of days.

Utilities

Social Networks

  • foursquare app for the BlackberryFoursquare | It doesn’t yet use wifi but it allows you to check in and out all over the place.  It’s one of those apps that doesn’t make sense until you use it and then you love it.
  • Twitter | Umm, it’s one of the main reasons why I upgraded to a Blackberry.
  • Facebook (one the off chance for some reason I need to actually log in sometime… maybe in 2012)
  • Flickr | It’s an uploader that uploads my camera phone shots to Flickr.  It rather annoyingly resizes them but I’ll deal with that later.

News and Sports

Am I missing anything?  Let me know in the comments.