[b]Aside from the most original topic name since last year's "Sunday Sunday Sunday!", I post this thread to speak of my addiction.
The Roughriders are something that had always been with me since the 43-40 victory in 1989 that claimed, not just a Grey Cup, but the greatest Grey Cup game to ever be played. Our whole family piled into our Grampa's house that he built to watch that game on his big box TV (that still sits in the same spot to this day).
My Uncle Fuffer had probably been drinking his fair share of Crown Royal that night and I remember him during that famed field goal attempt. He had himself convinced that he was indeed Dave Ridgeway. As Dave lined up for the kick so did the Fuffer. He held his right hand in the air and took his steps nearly in sync with the Robo-kicker's steps. When Ridgeway made contact with the ball, my uncle swung his leg and with nowhere near the same flexibility followed-through. The kick is up. Silence . . . and then the eruption.
This was the moment where I learned how important it was to be a Rider fan. This was the defining moment that would guarantee that I would become a season ticket holdler. It ensured my satisfaction with all things Green n' White. It's the reason I followed my team to Calgary this past November to witness the most devastating loss in the history of Grey Cups. It's the reason I wear my jersey whenever the heck I feel like it. And it's why I don't need to explain my bias during football debates.
The Riders have been part of my family my whole life. I have never lost faith, I have never lost hope, I have never lost sight of what's important . . . I have only lost games; some years more than others.
Rider pride is not a catchy slogan or cheesy song title. Rider pride is the name of my province. Rider Pride is a year long committment. Rider Pride is part of our curriculum. Rider Pride means, I am part of the team. I might be a back-up so far behind the furthest back-up on the most distant spot of the practice roster. But I promise you, if my team calls, I will answer.
To me, the 13th man is not an unfortunate coincidence. To me the 13th man is not unlucky. The 13th man is not a promotion gone horribly wrong. I am the 13th man. Like a terribly cliched movie that has a teacher ask which single troubled high school student is to blame, and all the students answer,"It was me". I do not blame anybody. We are a team and when somebody asks, who was the 13th man? I answer with Rider Pride, "I am the 13th man."
We are all the 13th man. We are all ready to step in if the team needs us. And guess what . . . The team always needs us. We are the team and coach put us in because we are ready.
July 1st marks the CFL season opener, not just for the Riders, but for the league. July 1st is our Grey Cup rematch, our chance to prove the 13th man is not a curse. July 1st is Canada Day, the birthday or a nation (also my wife's birthday -- Love you babe), and the rebirth of a team ready to take its first steps to greatness all over again.
I wear green and I am the blood of this football machine. Mosaic at Taylor Field is the heart of our Roughriders and I will pump it up on July 1st because that's what I do best?
If you took time to read this whole rant, then you are likely one of us. I salute you.
Football season is now. We are 100 years young, 100 years strong and truly alive.