There's probably no solution to the mean nothing games or perhaps there is. I just can 't come up with one to give fans their money's worth. I'd be really interested in hearing viable suggestions. Let me explain. Last night my wife and I went to the Lions/Roughriders game at BC Place. Watching this game was like watching paint dry as SSK did its best to make sure some of its star players like Durant, Sheets, Getzlaf and Dressler were not injured. It was like watching an exhibition game. Star Roughriders RB Corey Sheets was handed the ball only 4 times for a grand total of 34 yards then watched most of the game from the sidelines. QB Durant never did play. SB Dressler, I don't think was even dressed. No pun intended. Interestingly, the Lions' RB Harris was utilized frequently. I'm hoping the reason was less to do with personal achievement but still I question the wisdom in playing him as much as they did. I love the play of Harris but had he gotten an ankle sprain or other serious injury that would have been a serious blow to the Lions chances of winning the Western Final. The same goes for Tim Brown. He is our star punt returner and kick off returner. Who can replace him and play to his caliber? It seems to me the Lions were more willing to utilize many of their key players than the Roughriders and I can't come up with a reason why. The Roughriders did not bring their A game to town. As far as I'm concerned when you only rack up a total of 5 net yards in the 1st quarter you did not even come prepared to play. The team came to make an appearance and that was it.
I can't blame the SSK staff for playing ultra conservatively after all who wants to get beat up and injured when there is nothing or very little at stake and when you are playing in the Western Semi-Final where the stakes are much higher? So why bother even playing the game? For sure some of the players played like there was no tomorrow and no doubt some players who have not received much of a chance had their chance to bust a few heads and hopefully get the coaches' attention. That has to count for something. The coaches also had to chance to rotate their 2nd and 3rd string QBs for real game time experience just in case they're needed in the games that actually do count. I've no problem with that but we've not seen a lot of that during games where one team is blowing out the other. More importantly, when I see a team messing around and going for 3rd and 4 at around the opponents 20 instead of kicking a freaking field goal that's just not giving the crowd its money's worth in my opinion.
I know coaches don't want to risk their players getting injured but it is still a football game and the players are paid to entertain the fans. There were several SSK fans sitting behind us and they were almost asleep. Not a lot of cheering, almost comatose for the most part- not that there was a whole lot to cheer about but they did not even look like they had a pulse.
I was hoping that SSK would at least attempt to establish superiority over the Lions by winning 3 of the 4 games they played and at least eek out a win on the Lions home turf given the fact that they may well face the Lions in the Western Final. That just didn't seem to be much of a priority. What I saw was a team content to just show up and get out of town with as few injuries as possible.
The solution? I haven't a clue but this doesn't mean there isn't one out there. What can the CFL do to make these mean nothing games mean more given the fact that attendance at last night's game at 36,000+ was the highest all season at BC Place? That should be telling the CFL something. Though fans tried to make it a fun night and the Lions did their best to give them their money's worth I didn't get the same sense from SSK and that is a shame.