In the huddle with Ed Tait
First & 10
Tue Jul 10 2007
One man's take on the latest goings on in the Canadian Football League...
1 A small confession here, folks: yours truly continues to be tantalized by the skill set of Stampeders QB Henry Burris. We thought he looked spectacular in Week 1 and was benefiting from the guidance of new offensive co-ordinator George Cortez.
And then he dropped a stink bomb on Sunday night when he fumbled once and was picked off before being replaced by Akili Smith as the Stamps were crushed by Saskatchewan.
So, excuse us while we smack ourselves upside the forehead -- Burris is a tease. Always has been, always will be.
"I remember the first time I came back here, I had to get my phone cut off because people started calling my hotel room," Burris told The Calgary Herald before Sunday's game. "Driving into the ballpark was emotional because it was like going back home. I was to the point where I was almost crying, I was so pumped up and ready to go. We pulled up and people were yelling, 'Burris, you suck,' and stuff like that when we were getting off the bus. That got me pretty pumped. I wanted to go out there and show them how much I suck."
Mission accomplished, Mr. Burris.
2 JUSt when we thought we had seen and heard enough of the same-old pre-game trash-talking shtick used by so many CFLers we are treated to the dandy pre-game vitriol spit out by the Eskimos and Lions.
It began with Eskimo defensive end Rahim Abdullah referring to Lions tackle Rob Murphy -- the CFL's top lineman last season -- as the dirtiest player in the league and continued in the days leading up to the game. Now, rarely does that kind of trash talk transfer onto the field, but we saw the nastiness continue in Friday's Lions' win and, apparently, into the corridors of B.C. Place afterward.
Murphy was ejected in the fourth quarter of B.C.'s 29-9 victory after getting into a no-holds-barred dust-up with Eskimo end Adam Braidwood and then, get this, was confronted by Braidwood's father outside the dressing room.
"Braidwood's dad came over to me and said, 'You're a disgrace to the CFL,' " Murphy, who picked up two black eyes in his battle with Braidwood, told The Vancouver Province. "But remember, I'm the guy who claws people's eyes out... I can't wait to play them two more times."
Yup, circle these dates on the calendar: B.C. at Edmonton on Oct. 13 and Edmonton at B.C. a week later.
3 WE figured Kent Austin's Roughriders would make a push in the second half of the season, but there hasn't been a team that has dropped jaws and made eyes bug out more through two weeks than Saskatchewan. And their thumping of Calgary on Sunday night delivered a not so subtle message to the rest of the CFL.
"A lot of it is just Kent's influence," Riders receiver Matt Dominguez told The Regina Leader-Post. "With Kent coming in here, he's always talking about playing together and, to a lesser extent, the intangible-type things.
"It's big. It's a different attitude in here and you can tell. We're out there playing for each other."
4 BY the way, here's what any player says when they're in denial after being pounded 49-8:
"They didn't do jack to us," said Henry Burris. "We did it to ourselves. You can't drop balls, you can't have any turnovers. It doesn't matter what anybody else does. It's all about us in this locker room: If we come out and play, we'll win the game. We didn't play, they played a good game and that's why we got our butts kicked."
5 Our favourite new nickname of '07? Zeke 'And Destroy' Moreno, the Tiger-Cats new middle linebacker and a guy who can flat-out play. Great story behind this guy, as well. The former NFL vet with San Diego and Philadelphia learned to play the game from his mom, Arcinia, who played on a team called The Mighty Mamas in a southern California women's league.
"She always says 'Oh you got your talent from me,'" Moreno told The Hamilton Spectator. "She was always trying to teach us how to tackle. Growing up with five brothers in the household it was real competitive. She always organized it. There was no television or video games."
6 WE'LL go right out on a limb here and suggest Ticat GM Marcel Desjardins would like to have this trade back: he sent Canadian O-lineman Wayne Smith, receiver D.J. Flick and a second-round draft pick to Saskatchewan for QB Rocky Butler and two picks. Turns out Butler didn't make the Tabbies and while Smith missed Sunday's game with an injury, Flick pulled in two TD passes.
7 GOOD on former U of M Bison Cory Huclack for finding a home with the Alouettes. Huclack, you may recall, was traded by the Bombers to the Als this spring for O'Neil Wilson just weeks after signing as a free agent. And while it may have been crushing to be denied the chance to suit up for his favourite team as a kid -- and the one his father Dan played for -- Huclack has quickly adapted to wearing Montreal colours. He also got some free advice from his old man.
"The only thing I warned him about was the speed of the game," Huclack told The Montreal Gazette. "I also warned him that when he got his first cheque, he'd lose a lot of money in taxes. He called after the first one and said he lost half his pay."
8 IT'S about this theory the Argos are doing some sort of 'injustice' to Damon Allen by demoting him to third string behind Bishop and Mike McMahon... what a load of bunk. Allen, who turns 44 this month, was given every opportunity to walk away during the offseason and -- to his credit -- won the starting job for the season opener. And now that he's lost the gig to younger players everyone is supposed to feel sorry for him? We think not.
9 Back to the Riders for a mo... lost in all the back slapping and high fives for new GM Eric Tillman and Austin has been the work of defensive boss Richie Hall and D-line coach Ron Estay. The Riders gutted a good chunk of their defensive dozen over the winter, but Hall and Estay have that bunch playing like a pack of rabid dogs. And, man, are they fun to watch.
10 And, finally, some info for you collectors out there courtesy Jeffrey Bannon at The Bomber Store: the club has put together an exclusive 'Stegall Collection' -- not just signed limited-edition merchandise available in advance of him breaking the all-time TD list, but a complete line of stuff featuring the legend, for which the man himself receives a portion of the proceeds. There's no guarantee the line will make you 'thin in the waist and cute in the face' like Stegall himself, but it may not hurt either.