I was born two years after the Riders last playoff season (1978) and I have been brought up with my entire family from day one as a Roughriders fan even though I have lived in Edmonton my entire life.
from the age of 6 I have been involved in football in one way or another and started playing at the age of 11 for 8 years until an unfortunate injury stopped my playing days but continued in many ways after, as a referee for 5 seasons and I have coached for 4 different seasons as well, right up to High School.
I feel confident in my knowledge about Football that I can make a good discussion regarding the Riders and their players.
I have a few questions to ask, so I will try to be to the point.. and I'd hope you will give me a good response
When you are out (with your scouts) looking for talent to bring to Camp for tryouts, what specifics do you look for when considering the player? what is the most important "talent" or "aspect" that makes you pay more attention to that player than others? Height, speed, hands, personality/attitude? what about things like Toughness and desire?
Do you believe that winning at all costs is the most important goal for this team? and would you agree that there are a number of factors that make that kind of team, like closeness amongst the entire team, attitude, leadership among the captains and keeping their teammates in line when things get tougher? or is there something else you'd like to add or change in that?
What do you believe is the biggest differences between the teams that have been in Saskatchewan for the last few seasons, from the teams that missed the playoffs for 11 straight years back in the 80's?
Remember back when the Eskimos were that very powerful team when they had players like Brian Kelley, Stephan Jones, Gizmo Williams, etc. ?
You know how they let a Player like Kelly go before he wore out his welcome? before he was passed his playing days?
Yet the Roughriders kept a number of players well beyond there years, like Elgaard, Narcisse, Jurasin. to name a few of many.
So the difference between the Eskimos and our Roughriders at that time was the Esks being 1st or 2nd place in the west all the time, never finishing below the Riders in the standings (till 2007) and our Riders finishing 3rd at 9-9 or 4th and missing out on the playoffs.. repeatedly, with no winning seasons or very few and not a single home playoff game.
So.. sorry for the long explanation but the question basically is, Would you be at all hesitant to do the same thing the Eskimos did back then to a veteran player if you knew he was passed his time and a player who was just as good and 10 years younger was waiting to play?? would you get rid of them instead of holding them back, like passed Rider coaches and GM's did (namely Al Ford) will you make the hard decisions that need to be made to maintain a team on top?
That is the one thing that us Rider fans always were getting very tired of is that players were staying around way beyond their years..
sure Narcisse was a great player! but he stayed way too long! he was already slowing down and we were passing on amazing receivers who were more than able to take his spot and make a bigger impact on the field!
I believe I am a very football wise person. I know the game very very well and have a good grasp of the game and the concepts and reasonings for why things are what they are.
the biggest problem that we had before Kent Austin and yourself came along was that there was way too much complacency in the dressing room! there was no drive, no threat of losing your jobs as players! we could see it, nobody was kicking the lazy players in their butts and getting them to perform as they should!
The Riders were alienating their fans and refused to make the right moves to make the public happy.
Passing up on great Canadian Talent like Claremont at the Draft that year was bad. sure, we weren't in the position to draft him, but the fact that they made no attempt at all to even try and draft him was very bad!
The moment you came on board, we could see the change! it was like night and day! the players were motivated, the coaches and teammates kept each other straight, didn't allow them to get complacent, They were finally starting to look like a team that could be winners instead of the "loveable losers" that this team had become for so long.
Unlike a lot of other Rider fans in here, I have full respect towards you as a GM and as a Person! you have made the right moves, some very gutsy! and we have come out with many things I have never seen in my lifetime!
I truly hope that you will continue to make this team even stronger and more feared than ever before!
Just do me one favour! when it's time for someone to go, please don't keep them just because they're a fan favorite! let em go when it's time to go!