Canadian Football League helps fill pigskin void
By SCOTT ADAMSON
Scripps Howard News Service
Monday, July 23, 2007
My name is Scott, and I'm a footballaholic.
There, I said it. And by saying it I have finally admitted to you, my three loyal readers, that I have an addiction.
For years I either denied it or didn't really think about it, but I was forced to face my demons just a few nights ago when a leisurely channel surf found me on the CSS network watching the Montreal Alouettes take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Week 3 action of the 2007 Canadian Football League.
Now I could tell a white lie here and say that I tuned in because Clemson's Will Proctor plays for the Alouettes and South Carolina's Jamacia Jackson is on the Hamilton roster, but that wasn't the case. Will is on the practice squad, meaning unless the two other Montreal quarterbacks decided to leave the team just before kickoff and take factory jobs, he wasn't going to see any action.
No, I watched because I needed a football fix. And when I need a football fix I'm talking about the kind of football that they play outdoors (or in big indoor stadiums like the Georgia Dome).
The Arena Football League just doesn't do it for me. I mean the AFL is fine - a nice diversion if the weather's too bad for golf - but 72-57 scores that come from teams that play in hockey rinks, well, it's just not real football.
So since Clemson, South Carolina and Georgia haven't even started practice and several NFL players are still awaiting parole - the CFL has to do.
And it's doing quite nicely, thanks.
In fact, the Montreal-Hamilton showdown was a heckuva game, with the Alouettes hanging on for a 29-20 victory.
Of course if you aren't accustomed to the CFL it's a little mind-blowing.
The field is 110 yards long and 65 yards wide, and end zones are 20 yards deep.
It can be disconcerting to hear the announcer say "Montreal has first down at the Hamilton 53."
Teams have only three downs to make a first down, so you don't see a lot of running.
If a ball is fumbled out of bounds, it becomes the possession of the last team to touch it.
And my favorite weird rule is the "rouge." This is 1-point awarded to a team that kicks the ball into the end zone and it isn't returned.
Even if a team misses a field goal it still gets a point if the ball goes out of the end zone or if a kick returner takes a knee.
There's just something strange about seeing a "1" on a football scoreboard.
At any rate the CFL has fed my addiction this summer, and I want to thank it very much. It will be completely forgotten once the four-down brand of football gets going, but for a few brief, shining moments I was one of South Carolina's biggest CFL fans.
It's all part of my 12-step program, folks.[url=http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=34271]http://www.americanchronicle.com/articl ... leID=34271[/url]
August 6, 2007
For football fans in the United States, the wait is almost over. The NFL preseason is right around the corner and the high school and college football seasons will soon follow.
But just north of the border, in Canada, football season began back in June. That was when the eight-team Canadian Football League kicked off its two-game preseason schedule. The regular season began on June 28. If you have a satellite dish or cable, you may have access to some CFL games, either live or on a tape delay basis.
First and foremost, I am a football fan and Canadian football is a great product. You might be surprised to find out that several familiar names from the U.S. are current playing in the league. Players like QB Mike McMahon (Toronto), QB Akili Smith (Calgary), QB Eric Crouch (Toronto), RB Jarrett Payton (son of Walter- Montreal), WR Arland Bruce III (brother of Isaac Bruce-Toronto), QB Damon Allen (brother of Marcus Allen-Toronto) and QB Timmy Chang (Hamilton).
A few weeks ago I was looking at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats schedule and decided to take my two youngest sons, ages 13 and 10, to a game on August 3rd. It was a Friday night game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. I was looking forward to seeing Hamilton’s famed Ivor Wynne Stadium for the first time.
Hamilton is a blue collar steel town on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, between Toronto and Niagara Falls. The city of Hamilton is also home to the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame.
It took about 6 hours to drive from our home in Kalamazoo, Michigan to Hamilton, Ontario. We got an early start that day and arrived at the Hall of Fame around 2:30 in the afternoon. It cost just $5.00 for the three of us to tour the small, but fascinating facility.
There are 155 players enshrined in the Hall along with 64 “builders? (coaches and owners). One player you might recognize is quarterback Warren Moon, who played for the Edmonton Eskimos from 1978-1983 and won five straight Grey Cup championships. He is the only player to be inducted into both the CFL and NFL Hall of Fame. He was enshrined in the CFL Hall of Fame in 2001 and the NFL Hall of Fame in 2006.
Another recognizable name is Coach Bud Grant. He played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers from 1953-1956 and then coached the team from 1957-1966. He led Winnipeg to four Grey Cup championships before becoming head coach of the NFL Minnesota Vikings in 1967. He was enshrined in the CFL Hall of Fame in 1983 and the NFL Hall of Fame in 1994.
The five new members of the Class of 2007 will be inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame next month over the weekend of September 12-15. One of the new members is Darren Flutie, the brother of Doug Flutie. Darren played wide receiver for the British Columbia Lions, Edmonton Eskimos and Hamilton Tiger-Cats during his CFL career that ran from 1991-2002.
While we were touring the CFL Hall of Fame, I asked a girl who worked there if she knew where we could get tickets to the Tiger-Cats game that night. I could have purchased tickets online before we left home, but I knew that the team was 0-5 on the season and I took a chance that we would be able to get tickets once we got to Hamilton. She said she thought they had some tickets in the office and went to look for them. When she returned she handed me three tickets to the game. When I asked her how much I owed her, she said that they were free! The tickets were in Section 9 on the north side of the stadium, right on the goal line.
After we left the CFL Hall of Fame, we checked into a motel and had dinner. We then drove to the stadium. Ivor Wynne Stadium was originally built in 1930 and currently seats 29,600. It is located in the heart of a residential area in downtown Hamilton. I found only a few small parking lots around the stadium, charging $20 to park. Most people just parked on the streets or in people’s yards.
Hamilton had played the Blue Bombers on the road the week before and Winnipeg came out on top in that game 36-18.
We knew before we left home that the theme of the game was “Black Out Night.? They wanted to have all their fans wear black to the game. We got into the spirit by wearing black ourselves. I wore a black polo shirt with a Western Michigan University logo on it and my sons both wore black t-shirts.
It was a hot summer’s night and the game started at 7:30 that evening. The first 20,000 fans through the gates got free black foam hammers that said “Hammer Time? on them. They also contained the Tiger-Cats logo. To go along with the Black Out theme that evening, the crowd was treated to snippets of songs over the PA system like “Men in Black? by Will Smith and “The Man in Black? by Johnny Cash. There was also a dose of the song “Hammer Time? by MC Hammer.
During the player introductions prior to the game, they brought out a live Bengal tiger onto the field from a local zoo. After the singing of the Canadian National Anthem, a restored Canadian Air Force P-51 Mustang from World War II made a low, high speed pass right over the stadium.
Winnipeg took an early 7-0 lead in the game, but on Hamilton’s first play from scrimmage, running back Jesse Lumsden exploded for a 69-yard touchdown run to tie the score. He rushed for over 100 yards by halftime and was he was just getting started.
The Tiger-Cats built a 15-8 lead at halftime and led 29-15 going into the fourth quarter. With 9:41 left to go in the game, Lumsden scored again, this time on a 75-yard run that had the crowd of 24,201 chanting “Jesse, Jesse.?
Lumsden played college football at McMaster University in Hamilton. He had a standout college career and is well known to the local fans. His father, Neil, played in the CFL for 10 seasons as well and has three Grey Cup rings.
Hamilton went on to win the game by the score of 43-22. Very few people left the game before the final gun, savoring the team’s first win of the season. Lumsden, who is in this third season with the Tiger-Cats, finished the game with 12 carries for 211 yards rushing and two touchdowns. It was also his 25th birthday.
The Tiger-Cats last Grey Cup championship was in 1999. The team has struggled in recent years, but none of that seemed to matter that night. The fans were as passionate as any I have ever seen at any level of football.
All in all, my boys and I had a great time in Hamilton. We returned home the next day in time to watch the NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on TV that evening. While the attention of American football fans was focused on Canton, Ohio, the memories of the previous night at Ivor Wynne Stadium were still running through my mind. Football may just be getting started in the United States, but in Canada, it has been going strong all summer.