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Sunday, 06 November 2022 11:28

Road to the Grey Cup 2022

We’re just now arriving at the halfway point of the NFL season, a season that has seen a handful of great moments and rather too many not-so-great ones. It has been exhilarating to watch, as per usual, but the reality is that we’re still many weeks away from seeing games that will have any real implications with regards to the postseason.

However, as far as the league’s gridiron neighbor to the north is concerned, the postseason is already upon us.

The CFL postseason is on the verge of its beginnings, with six teams vying for the right to hoist aloft the Grey Cup. This year’s championship game – the 109th in the league’s history – is set to take place on Nov. 20 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan. It’s the fourth time the city has hosted the game, but the first Grey Cup played at Mosaic; previous games were contested at Taylor Field.

So who’s going to win?

Published in Sports

If you’re like me, you’re starting to get that football itch.

Sure, you could watch the reborn USFL or the gimmicky Fan Controlled Football league, but is that really going to cut it? Do you really want to watch an inferior version of the sport you typically enjoy come September?

Wouldn’t you rather check in with our neighbors to the north?

That’s right – the 2022 CFL season is on the verge of kicking off!

As the preeminent (read: only) CFL pundit in northern New England, I consider it my duty to share with you my thoughts about the upcoming season. The slate is filled again after 2021’s truncated schedule – 18 games over 21 weeks – and looks to be one hell of a competitive season.

It all kicks off on June 9 with the Montreal Alouettes making their way to Calgary to take on the Stampeders. From there, we’re off to the races, with all nine squads competing for a chance to play in the 109th Grey Cup, set to take place on November 20 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan.

As with any efforts at prediction, there are going to be hits and misses. The truth is that while I consider myself to be reasonably knowledgeable about the Canadian game, I will inevitably miss on one or two of these predictions. A team that looks great now could wind up struggling and vice versa, and with just nine teams, well – there’s plenty of room for both over- and underperformance.

The Canadian game is definitely different than what we’re accustomed to seeing in our own NFL, but it’s those differences that make it fun to watch. It’s a fast-paced and wide-open game, one that offers its own energy and excitement. If you want to see for yourself, there will be plenty of opportunity thanks to ESPN’s broadcast partnership with the league; it might be ESPN+ or a broadcast arm, but keep an eye out and you’ll get your chance.

With all that said, here is one man’s opinion about how the 2022 CFL season will play out. Are you ready for some (Canadian) football?

Published in Sports

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

We are on the verge of the 108th Grey Cup, the championship game of the Canadian Football League. And it’s a rematch of the last time it was contested, back in 2019.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will face off on Dec. 12 at Tim Hortons Field in, you guessed it, Hamilton, Ontario, giving the Ticats a chance to avenge their loss in the 2019 contest.

Hamilton got here by taking down Montreal (my pick for the East’s representative for the Cup, by the way) 23-12 in the East semifinal, then defeating the intrepid Argonauts of Toronto by a score of 27-19. On the flip side, Winnipeg arrives after eking out a 21-17 victory over Saskatchewan following their first-round bye. Now, they face off to determine a winner.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Hamilton can end their lengthy championship drought – they haven’t raised the Cup since 1999 – after Winnipeg ended their own three-decade run of futility in the 2019 game. Will the Ticats get it done? Or will we see back-to-back titles for the Blue Bombers?

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 23 November 2021 14:42

Road to the Grey Cup 2021

We’re a bit past the halfway point of an NFL season that has seen some great moments and more than a few not-so-great ones. It has been exhilarating to watch, but the reality is that we’re still weeks away from games that will have any real implications with regards to the postseason.

However, as far as the league’s gridiron neighbor to the north is concerned, the postseason is already upon us.

The CFL postseason is set to begin, with six teams vying for the right to hoist aloft the Grey Cup. This year’s championship game – the 108th in the league’s history after the cancellation of last year’s season due to the pandemic – is set to take place on Dec. 12 at Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton, Ontario. It’s the 11th time the city has hosted the game, but the first since 1996; it will also be the first Grey Cup played at this stadium. This will be the latest in the year that a Grey Cup has ever been contested.

So who’s going to win?

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 29 September 2021 12:15

Due north: A midseason CFL check-in

While the NFL season is picking up steam, it’s worth noting that there’s a football season already half-completed happening just to the north.

The CFL has reached the halfway point in the 2021 season, a campaign truncated somewhat by the ongoing circumstances of the pandemic. This year sees the schedule play out over 16 weeks, with each team playing 14 games along with two byes. And since they just completed Week 8, it seemed like the time was right to check in with how things are going on the gridiron of the Great White North.

Here’s a quick-hit look at how the CFL’s nine teams are performing thus far. We should note that with multiple byes, there is some disparity regarding how many games each team has played thus far. Still, we’re far enough a long to have a pretty good sense of how it’s all going.

(All statistics current as of the completion of Week 8)

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 01 September 2021 12:00

‘Year of the Rocket’ a blast from the CFL past

In the world of gridiron football, the NFL reigns supreme. The league has become an entertainment behemoth, a multibillion-dollar monolith that is the closest thing to monoculture that North America experiences anymore.

But to the north, there is another football league with a storied history of its own.

The Canadian Football League has been around for a long time too – decades longer than its more prominent neighbor to the south – though it has never developed the same sort of all-encompassing hold on the general population. As the NFL exploded in popularity in the 1970s and into the ‘80s, the CFL – once an entity on more-or-less equal footing with its counterpart – began losing ground.

But in the early ‘90s, thanks to a bizarre confluence of timing and circumstance and a handful of bold and ill-conceived choices, a celebrated college star headed north and the CFL briefly found itself the talk of the sports world.

“Year of the Rocket: When John Candy, Wayne Gretzky, and a Crooked Tycoon Pulled Off the Craziest Season in Football History” (Sutherland House, $19.95) by Paul Woods is the story of that moment, where a trio of celebrated owners took control of one of the CFL’s most storied franchises and used their combined clout and cash to convince Notre Dame’s Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, one of college football’s biggest stars, to sign with them.

Woods goes deep into the situation, documenting the struggles that came from dealing with the sky-high expectations across the board; on the field and off, behind the scenes and in front of the world, these were circumstances unlike any ever experienced by the CFL. It was a whole new world – some of it good, some of it bad, all of it compelling.

Published in Sports

Oh, yeah – it’s back, baby! Our neighbors to the north are getting geared up for another season of CFL football!

It’s great to have the league back this year; the CFL lost last season to the pandemic, making 2020 the first year in over a century not to feature a Grey Cup championship contest. Seriously – it’s the only time other than the stretch from 1916-1919 that there was no Grey Cup game. Never forget that there’s a ton of history behind the Canadian game – just as much (if not more) than our own NFL.

Now, this season is going to be a little different. Pandemic circumstances have led to a bit of a truncated schedule; ordinarily, the league would have kicked off a couple of months ago. Instead, the season’s first game will be on August 5 and feature the reigning champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers hosting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the squad they defeated in that 2019 Grey Cup matchup.

We’re looking at 14 games played over 16 weeks, with the regular season coming to an end on November 20. The playoffs will begin on November 28, culminating in the 108th Grey Cup, scheduled to be played on December 12 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario.

The Canadian game is definitely different than what we’re accustomed to seeing in our own NFL, but it’s those differences that make it fun to watch. It’s a fast-paced and wide-open game, one that offers its own energy and excitement. If you want to see for yourself, there will be plenty of opportunity thanks to ESPN’s broadcast partnership with the league; it might be ESPN+ or a broadcast arm, but keep an eye out and you’ll get your chance – just as an example, that Winnipeg/Hamilton tilt will be on ESPN2.

Are you ready for some (Canadian) football? Let’s look ahead at the 2021 CFL season.

Published in Sports

The coming of the new year tends to inspire feelings of reflection, of looking back on the year that has passed. And so, as someone who spent part of that year telling you what was going to happen in the world of sports, I feel it my duty to share with you how it ultimately went.

As per usual, the results are … let’s just call them mixed.

You’re more than welcome to judge my ability (or lack thereof) however you see fit. I’m perfectly aware of the dart-monkey levels of accuracy I usually manage; you won’t be telling me anything I don’t already know.

Published in Sports

The weather outside may be frightful, but the upcoming Grey Cup looks to be oh-so-delightful.

The 107th Grey Cup is upon us. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will face off on Nov. 24 to decide this year’s CFL champion. The game kicks off a little after 6 p.m. at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.

The Ti-Cats – who sported the CFL’s best regular season record – took down the crossover-winning Edmonton Eskimos 36-16 to take the East Division crown. The Bombers eked out a 20-13 win over the top-seeded Saskatchewan Roughriders to win the West. Now, the two teams face off to determine a champion.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 05 November 2019 12:33

Road to the Grey Cup 2019

We’re just past the halfway point of an NFL season that has seen some great moments and more than a few not-so-great ones. It has been exhilarating to watch, but the reality is that we’re still weeks away from games that will have any real implications with regards to the postseason.

However, as far as the league’s gridiron neighbor to the north is concerned, the postseason is already upon us.

The CFL postseason is set to begin, with six teams vying for the right to hoist aloft the Grey Cup. This year’s championship game – the 107th in the league’s history – is set to take place on Nov. 24 at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, marking the first time since 2009 that the city has hosted the game and the fifth time overall.

So who’s going to win?

Published in Sports
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