HI Eskie fans,
I'm a Rider fan and old enough to clearly remember your last 10 Grey Cup victories. Heck, I attended two of them!
I remember the "Drive for Five" dynasty, Kepley, Wilkinson, Moon, Dunigan, Allen, Kelly, Molstad, Germany and all the hall of famers since. I've seen this franchise pound teams without mercy, rack up the score, and win SO much, even the fans just sat on their seats and golf clapped to all the touchdowns you scored. You saw SO MUCH SUCCESS you were numb to it.
Conversely, for all those great years you had, the Riders were doormats for many of them. We took beating after beating, had a few highlights (1989 team beating the arrogant 16-2 Esks in the West Final), but could not get any traction.
Our fan base was tired of losing and showed it at the gate. We held telethons to sell tickets, to sell shares, to get an operating capital to stay afloat in our bad years. Yes, there was a time when only a few Rider fans owned a jersey.
However, I recall the day it all turned around and I think this is your opportunity as an organization to learn something. One day in the early 1980's, a former sports writer came back to Saskatchewan and asked every one of us to show our "Rider Pride". He challenged our allegiances, he got us to the game(s). This generation of fans became loyal and they had kids and now they are the Rider Nation you see in Saskatchewan and in every stadium in the country. They are now bringing their kids to the game and on it grows. No other team comes close to building a loyal fan base like the Riders.
Regardless of where we were in the standings or how inept we were on and off the field, we all found something about OUR team that made us proud and a need to belong. Today, Rider fans acknowledge each other when we're out in public, we stop and share a story, no matter where we are - Nova Scotia or Vancouver Island. We are a community. You could be, too.
If you Eskie fans would one day like to see YOUR jersey in the thousands at the opponent's park, if you'd like to see your brand on the front aisle of every sports store in the nation, if you'd like to see television ratings SPIKE every time your team plays, if you'd like to see the opposition beg to host your team because their gate is bigger then you will need to dig down deep, here in your darkest hour and find the one thing that makes your fan base passionate about your team. It'll take a generation but losing seasons only breed hope and when it's achieved it's much sweeter coming from the bottom rung rather the top rung. Your next victory will be the most memorable, sweetest experience.
This is a great game played in a great league by great players. We have great, proud franchises with LONG histories. Yours is one of the best stories in the history of our game. Are you going to find your version of Rider Pride?
This is your opportunity, now and forever.