Thu, March 6, 2008
Penthouse to outhouse?
UPDATED: 2008-03-06 02:07:06 MST
Joseph move foul smelling to Rider fans
By ERIC FRANCIS
Back up the manure truck.
Eric Tillman may just have earned himself a special delivery.
History has shown that every 20 years or so, the Saskatchewan Roughriders buck all trends to carry Lord Earl Grey's tinny treasure back to the prairies.
And just as quickly as the stars seem to align for such rare and raucous celebrations, they always seem to scatter into a million pieces, ensuring such success is short lived.
If nothing else, it appears Tillman is a traditionalist.
Three months after his franchise ended almost two decades of drought to win its third Grey Cup, the heart of the franchise was ripped out of the club by the Riders GM, who shipped quarterback Kerry Joseph to Toronto yesterday.
Sources say the deal will see the league's Most Outstanding Player shipped east for two nobodies and two draft picks, although specifics will be detailed at a press conference this morning.
Regardless of the returns, it's tough to believe anyone could get full value for the player chiefly responsible for last year's championship march.
In less time than it takes Rider Nation to get over its Grey Cup hangover, the Roughriders' chances of repeating have been obliterated like a gopher in a threshing machine.
Whatever that means.
First, coach Kent Austin puts his induction into the Saskatchewan Hall of Fame on hold by returning to his alma mater at Ole Miss. Then, following several other cost-cutting moves, Joseph, 34, is moved.
And just like that, the Roughriders fortunes now rest on the shoulders of 33-year-old retread Marcus Crandell.
"I wanna know the last time anybody traded the reigning MVP?" asked stumped Stamps quarterback Dave Dickenson, echoing the shocked reaction league-wide.
"I don't get it."
The move is widely believed to be based on salary, which Dickenson questions given how much salary Tillman cleared earlier this winter. Joseph was to be paid $250,000, but apparently wanted closer to $400,000.
[b]"You tell me where they're spending their money, unless they were ridiculously over, like it is reported," said Dickenson, who could've prevented yesterday's deal had he not recently turned down a $250,000 offer to be the Argos starting pivot.
"I'm just shocked Kerry doesn't fit into their plans." [/b]
A great leader, a solid quarterback who can run and throw, a class act ... a winner. What more could you ask of a player?
Make no mistake -- Austin was the brains behind Joseph and no one is silly enough to suggest Joseph is, or was, the best quarterback in the league -- that honour belonged to either Henry Burris or Kevin Glenn last year. However, he was the backbone of the team in a passing league where wins and losses are decided by the quarterbacks.
Tillman is smart enough to know that and likely felt he had no other option but to make a move that has Roughrider chat rooms filled with fury and anger over the most puzzling move the league's seen in years.
Adding to the silliness of it all, the Argos are also expected to announce today they've extended the contract of QB Michael Bishop and picked up the option on Damon Allen's deal.
How about this as a theory: Given the fact Kevin Glenn is apparently $75,000 apart in negotiations with Winnipeg, perhaps this move sets up a deal sending Glenn to Saskatchewan. Then Bishop moves from Toronto to Winnipeg. Yeah right.
Knowing how passionate his neighbours are, Tillman will undoubtedly sleep with one eye open for the next little while. If he must leave the house, he'd be wise to hit Home Depot to grab himself a shovel.
After all, it could take quite a while to dig himself out of this one.[url=http://calsun.canoe.ca/Sports/Football/2008/03/06/4924671-sun.html]http://calsun.canoe.ca/Sports/Football/ ... 1-sun.html[/url]