I love the CFL. I was raised on it. Call me odd, but I prefer it to the slower, slicker NFL.
I played Canadian rules as a kid when I played city ball in Brantford, and I prefer the wider field and the potential craziness that can ensue, and often does.
My father had me watching his ARGOS at Exhibition Stadium back in the days of Joe Thiesmann in the crowds of 50,000 fans on the CNE grounds.
It really meant something to me when the ARGOS won their first Grey Cup in over 30 years with Condredge Holloway and Joe Barnes in 1987.
I celebrated on Yonge Street, and got shot out of a tree compliments of a Toronto Fireman’s hose!
I got drunk and went to the victory parade.
And I was exceptionally proud to catch on with the ARGONAUTS as their PA Voice (in stadium) for 2 seasons in 2002 & 2003.
Doing a game with my parents (and Uncle and Aunt) in attendance is still one of the highlights of my career in broadcasting.
Having experienced all that, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have the CFL back in Ottawa.
When I first arrived here, with my family, there was no team here.
A hole in the middle of this fine City. Prime real estate rotting.
To think “The Friends of Lansdowne” (or the “friends of a concrete hole” as I put it) almost got in the way of this initiative!
The game experience is top drawer, and some call it the best in the entire league and that really says something when you have places like Regina, Montreal and Hamilton around.
Here are some REDBLACKS fans having a blast at Saturday’s game:
The game day experience was fantastic again this weekend. Saturday afternoon, the weather was perfect. It just completely felt like football. It was a boisterous Sell Out and the fans had lots to cheer about early with the REDBLACKS moving the ball — almost — at will.
Thanks to the Media Relations guys with the team (Graeme Ivory and Chris Hofley) I was lucky enough to catch the action from the Press Box for the first time since the return of the team.
The Press Box is a very cool perspective. It’s named in the honour of long time voice of the ROUGH RIDERS Ernie Calcutt.
I first had to pick up my credentials at the Security Desk, and they greeted me with smiles saying they’d been ‘wondering when I was going to show up.’
Hey, Canadian summers are short. Especially when the don’t come at all!
The Press Box is atop the South Stands, so I took the back elevator up 4 floors and was greeted with a nice spot to sit, a sweet little box lunch and the depth charts and rosters for both the BC LIONS and the OTTAWA REDBLACKS.
To my left was a nice veteran freelance writer named James Hurst from the Wellington Times. A football guy, and a good guy to watch a game with. To my right were some Scouts obviously from either the REDBLACKS, or the LIONS. It was easy to tell. The BC guys in orange. The Ottawa guys in black. Local newspaper guys were on hand also including Tim Baines from the Ottawa Sun.
The TSN booth is the largest, and the first you see as you get off the elevator. Rod Black and Duane Ford were both on hand, and calling the game standing. The Radio Booth is further down the hallway.
Caramel Popcorn and refreshments were available for all. The view is really good, and Ottawa you looked a mar-vel-ous.
The REDBLACKS had the crowd into it early. BC’s Jonathan Jennings couldn’t get the Lions rolling and Ottawa led into the half 18-rip.
After some added excitement and a great return from the REDBLACKS Dionte Spencer; the Lions, who brought in a new QB (Travis Lulay) finally got on the board in the 3rd Quarter with a Field Goal.
It was the 4th Quarter that put the fear of Zeus into the crowd.
With the REDBLACKS leading 31-3, the Lions fought back and scored 21 unanswered points in the 4th; and Lulay had them marching down the field poised for the tie.
Welcome to Ottawa Jonathan Newsome! The newly acquired DE (and former Saskatchewan Rough Rider) caught a deflection; an interception that snuffed out the drive.
It wasn’t pretty — but it was 2 points.
The REDBLACKS are now in 2nd in the East and head to Montreal for a game Thursday night.
Conceivable, they could be in first place (a win and an Argo loss to the Cats on Labour Day) following the coming long weekend.
As they say in the CFL, it really doesn’t get going until Labour Day.
Do yourself a favour; get to a game and enjoy the CFL on a beautiful fall day.
You won’t regret it.