It'll drive you crazy with its scheduling quirks (Winnipeg and Hamilton play four times in the first seven weeks!?).
And, yeah, it'll shoot itself in the foot every now and again (we're still getting over that attempt to expand to the U.S.).
But all things considered, there will always be a special place in our hearts for the Canadian Football League.
Whenever we need reminding, the crazy three-down loop will give us a game like Week 1's Montreal-Saskatchewan tilt, a 54-51 overtime thriller that threatened to tilt the scoreboard at Taylor Field like it was a worn-out pinball machine.
So here's to the league that once drafted a dead man, that used to have two teams with the same nickname and that rewards teams for failure. No, not even the rouge is enough to turn us off.
We give you the Top 10 Things We Like About the CFL.
- The Big Field
Rookies from the States can't believe it when they first see it: 110 yards by 65, with another 40 yards in end-zone space! All that real estate makes for some wide open football, and is probably the single most important factor in the CFL's historical scoring advantage over its American cousin. Not even the extra man can neutralize that much green space, which promotes the notion of agility over size. By comparison, the NFL game often looks crowded onto a postage stamp.
- The 20-Second Clock
You know how the three-down game seems to move faster, with much less down time than your typical NFL game? Give credit to the 20 seconds allowed between plays, making for a sometimes harried attempt to get the snap off in time. Sure, it leads to a few more delay-of-game penalties, and occasionally there's no time to show a TV replay. But the 20-second clock, combined with the three downs, also prevents teams with a late lead from killing huge amounts of time and negating the last-minute comeback.
Fans want to be able to relate to the athlete they're cheering for, and when he's making a gazillion bucks a week, they simply can't. With a salary cap of around $4.2 million per team, the average CFL paycheque is between 70 and 80 grand a season, still not bad for six months' work, but well within the parameters the average Joe can wrap his head around. The modest pay is a direct factor in No. 7 on our list, too.
- Manageable Egos
New Winnipeg head coach Paul LaPolice recently said one of the things he likes most about the CFL is that he can walk into a meeting room and count on spending some time with likable guys. When you're not paying out millions of dollars a year, your chances of developing egomaniacs is dramatically decreased. Give or take the odd Charles Roberts, the CFL is made up of relatively humble stock who don't think their locker is the centre of the universe.
This one's probably related to the money and ego issues, but it's also nurtured and promoted by the league, and here's hoping it stays that way. Where else can fans walk onto the field after a practice to chat with and get autographs from their heroes? Heck, these guys will stop and say hello on their way to their locker-room at half-time or the end of a game. There's no once-a-week media access to the quarterback, and rarely do players refuse to do interviews.
- The Fans
Sure, the NFL sells out most of its stadiums most of the time, and you can still find empty seats at most CFL games. But there's a grassroots feel at CFL stadiums that you don't always see in the corporate world down south. It's still a family game, but with just enough crazies to keep it interesting. Led by the melon-heads and body-painters of Saskatchewan, CFL fans have a attachment to their team and the game that's been passed down through generations.
- The Stadiums
The clock may be ticking on old Ivor Wynne in Hamilton, the decaying double-decker job in Winnipeg, even on the building at Taylor Field in Regina. But there's a quaintness about those facilities, and all the outdoor fields in the loop, that have provided the backdrop for generations of memories, from fingertip catches in the snow to touchdown grabs at the back of an end zone lined with fans. Here's hoping the new stadiums retain the heart and soul of the old ones.
- Rotating Grey Cup Host
It's one of the best things the CFL has ever done, giving every city the chance to host the championship game on a regular basis. When Winnipeg was awarded the 1991 game, it ended an era where the Grey Cup was held mostly in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, kicking off the grassroots support of the big game that makes it so successful today. It's also gone a long way to making smaller-market clubs financially stable, as hosting will typically inject $3 million or more into a franchise's coffers.
- It's Canadian, eh?
No other pro sports league is based entirely in Canada. And no other sports league mandates the playing of Canadians. Those who argue the Canadian ratio downgrades the game are missing the point entirely. For what would this league have been without Russ Jackson and Tony Gabriel, Chris Walby and Roger Aldag, Lui Passaglia, Dave Fennell or Ray Elgaard, or any of the hundreds of players who cherish the chance to play pro football in their own communities? Without them, our attachment to the game would begin to fray. Instead, it's bound by ropes strengthened through the generations.
- Grey Cup Week
If you haven't experienced it, what are you waiting for? From the five days of parties to the fanfests to the roaring rush of the Snowbirds right before kickoff, soaking in Grey Cup week might just be the best way to celebrate being a hoser. For the ultimate, take in a Grey Cup on the prairies. Then again, fans from Saskatchewan will bring their passion to the party, regardless of where it is. You don't even need the home team in the game for it to be a flat-out good time. Oh, and the game's usually a dandy.
seems like back-handed compliments to me.
its the way he goes about complimenting our game that comes across as insulting to me.
starts the article with insults then says, 'are not enough to turn us away'....its like saying, your fat, smelly, and ugly, but i still like you. :roll: