Wednesday, November 28, 2007
By Jack B. Bedell,
HEY, HOLD ON A MINUTE THERE, PAL
Okay, so I’m sitting on the train in my sleeper car on the way back to Louisiana after a great week in Toronto, reading all the Monday morning wrap-ups of Sunday’s Grey Cup, and I’ve officially reached the point of a rant.
To be fair, a handful of writers got the game, but the vast majority of coverage dismissed it as a boring, sloppy affair whose only intrinsic value was the human interest story of the Cup returning to Riderville after such a long drought.
Heck, a reporter in Kent Austin’s post-game press conference even went so far as to ask the coach if the fact that the game was so sloppy and boring ruined the experience for him!
That’s just not the game I saw.
For one thing, passing stats and points on the scoreboard aren’t the only barometers of excitement. Having played a little quarterback myself, nothing gets me more excited than defensive pressure. It tilts the field and makes for great drama.
You want to know boring? It’s watching a quarterback stand in the pocket all day, unmolested, calmly going through his reads, and piling up stats and points. There’s a name for that. It’s called the skeleton drill, and it holds zero drama for me.
Both pivots struggled in the face of tremendous pass rushes Sunday. And that created great tension and energy (if not points) for me.
It wasn’t a matter of poor protection either. On the contrary, I thought both O-lines did the best they could against ferocious pressure from two of the finest front sevens in the league.
Every bit of offence produced in the game came through extreme effort, creativity, and nice athleticism by Kerry Joseph and Ryan Dinwiddie. What’s not to like about those qualities in a game?
And the suggestion that the game lacked fireworks is crazy, too. How about Ike Charlton laying out receivers all over the field, or John Chick getting after Dinwiddie? Or Jerome Haywood and Doug Brown collapsing pockets all night long? Or the ‘Riders’ D flat out stuffing the run. There were serious pops all over the field.
Sure, there were some dropped balls by Saskatchewan’s receivers. But, c’mon, it was the Grey Cup for crying out loud, the biggest stage these guys had ever played on. I can’t fault a few cases of the yips. I mean, who hasn’t spilled a drink at the table during an important date, or knocked over a collated stack of paper at a business meeting.
It’s how the players, like Andy Fantuz and D.J. Flick, are able to bounce back from those yips that makes grand theatre. And both came through for their team when yards were absolutely necessary and points were needed to win a championship.
The stone-cold fact is: there WERE heroes in Sunday’s Grey Cup game, more than enough heroes to make a wonderful story for me. Fantuz, Kerry Joseph, James Johnson, Scott Schultz, Fred Perry, John Chick, and on and on, up and down the champs’ bench.
These guys gutted it out and won the ring. They might have been more Joe Frazier than Muhammad Ali, but they’re champions nonetheless. And I’m cheering them today, not complaining about the fight.
Once I’ve calmed down a bit, and fully recovered from my week of festivities in the Big Smoke, I’ll be back with a few end of season RWB awards and some thoughts on all the off-season intrigue.
Until then, take care. And thanks to everyone who made my week in Toronto an absolute joy.
Jack B. Bedell is a Professor of English at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana and has followed the CFL for nearly three decades.
(The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of the Canadian Football League)
Wow, I couldn't be more in agreement. Good read Mr. Bedell