The Toronto Argonauts are Grey Cup Champions

Sometimes I feel like an unofficial ambassador to Canada when I sit down and write a blog post. I kind of enjoy it. I get to share with you what life is like in this country, milk bags and all. Tonight will be no different.

I’m going to transition from pudgy bags of milk to football now, if that’s okay. I know some of you are disappointed by that, but don’t cry. I didn’t spill any.

Sunday night was the Grey Cup here in Canada.

If that statement is confusing you, I’ll make it simple. We have a league called the Canadian Football League. It has nine teams. Two teams eventually make it to the finals and play for the Grey Cup.

Some of you are probably thinking, “Oh, that’s their Super Bowl.” To which, I reply, “Nay! The Super Bowl is your Grey Cup!”

Get it? Because the Grey Cup has been around for 105 years and the Super Bowl has been around for about half that time. Which means we came first.

I’ve gone off on about four tangents and this post isn’t 200 words old yet.

The 105th Grey Cup presented by Shaw (darn, their marketing worked) featured the Toronto Argonauts and the Calgary Stampeders. Calgary was the favourite. They dominated the regular season (13-4-1) for the second year in a row, while the Argos finished with a 9-9 record.

Last year, though, Calgary made it all the way to the Grey Cup and lost to Ottawa. The game was played in Toronto.

Last year, though, Toronto was the worst team in the league and had management issues, while hosting “Dress as an empty seat night” at every home game. That’s my nice, Canadian way of saying not many people went to their games.

So, this Grey Cup, what’s the story, Wishbone? (If you got that reference, all the points to you).

Well, Calgary is out for redemption. You know, they didn’t quite focus as much as they should have last year. They’re out to right a wrong.

The Argos, well, who saw this coming? Not the empty seats, that’s for sure. Yes, they hired Jim Popp as the General Manager and he brought back his good friend Marc Trestman to coach the team. The two of them had found success before in Montreal. Why couldn’t they find it here?

I’ll tell you why they couldn’t! Because ownership didn’t hire them until deeper into the off-season than would’ve been desirable.

You know, they would get all the leftovers in free agency. How in the world would they turn this team around? *Insert more “woe is us” media storylines*

Well, they did. They had a quarterback named Ricky Ray, who is a legend. You want an NFL comparison? He is Tom Brady.

So Calgary and Toronto win their divisions and have a bye to the Division Final. That’s right. Here in Canada, there are only two playoff rounds before the final. Some teams only need to win one game to get to the Grey Cup.

Both teams won and met Sunday night in Ottawa.

Grey Cup Matchups
2016: Calgary vs. Ottawa in Toronto
2017: Calgary vs. Toronto in Ottawa

Oh, how the turn tables.

Before the game started, it started snowing. I liked seeing that. First off, if it’s snowing, that knocks the favourites (Calgary) down a notch. Second, football just looks cooler in the snow.

Then I pictured a bunch of sponsors getting on their cellphones and calling an executive who works at the CFL, complaining that their on-field logo was now covered in snow and they were spending all that money for nothing.

“WHY AREN’T THE SNOW PLOWS UNCOVERING MY LOGO?” is what I imagined was being yelled multiple times throughout the first half.

Keep reading for more of this juicy “logos covered with snow” storyline.

Two anthem singers came out, with a choir behind them, and all of a sudden thought they were at a summer camp. They tried to get the crowd cheering certain things and saying, “We’re all going to sing this together! Yeah Canada! Wooo!”

I had no clue what the hell I was watching.

I’ve said it a million times on this blog – years before anthems were even controversial – why can’t people just sing the anthem properly at sporting events?

I don’t need your spin on it. If you want to cover a song, go record yourself in your makeshift recording studio in your bedroom with an unmade bed, and post it to YouTube. Don’t stand in front of the country and look like a fool.

So, that happened.

The game finally started a good 90 minutes after I finished consuming my last slice of pizza. This is normally when I start to fall asleep. But I didn’t!

Calgary took the early lead. Toronto came right back and scored a 100-yard touchdown – the first ever 100+ yard play in Grey Cup history.

I should mention that a CFL field is 110 yards, not 100 yards. Also, each end zone is 20 yards deep. That means, yes, there have been punts and missed field goals returned 129 yards for touchdowns.

Anyway, the Argos did that.

Fast forward to half time and who comes out? Ms. Canada herself, Shania Twain.

She rode in on a dog sled and my initial thought was, “This would look awful if there weren’t any snow.” Fortunately, there was snow.

Maybe that’s why they didn’t shovel the snow on top of the sponsors’ logos? #ConspiracyTheory

Nah, too much snow was falling. They only had time to shovel the lines. #ConspiracyTheoryDebunked

Then she got off the sled and was greeted by a Mountie, who walked her on stage like a perfect gentleman.

At this point, I was throwing up maple syrup, Timbits, and a long list of compliments. It was way too much Canadiana for me.

Then she sang three songs and descended underneath her stage.

I don’t want to say I thought the performance was boring, but…

I guess I wasn’t expecting her to sing three songs in full. Maybe my vision of half time shows have been blurred since I saw Lady Gaga do a medley of songs.

Maybe that’s what I was expecting. A medley. But then again, that’s not very Canadian. We like things to be complete. So, yeah. Yay music!

We come back for the second half and the big story is that most of the Argos players changed their shoes at halftime.

Ohhhhh here we go! This is what documentaries are made of! If this wasn’t the modern day version of “Michael’s Secret Stuff” ala Space Jam, I don’t know what is.

There is a short delay as they are clearing snow off the field…IN MORE PLACE THAN JUST WHERE THE LINES ARE.

I told you there were sponsors on the phone in that first half, complaining about the snow covering their logo! And wouldn’t you know, I could now see some logos. Not clearly, but more than I could before.

The third quarter happened, fine.

Fourth quarter. The Argos were trailing 24-16.

Calgary marches all the way down the field in their snow shoes to about the Argos 10-yard line. There are just over four minutes left.

I looked at this and I thought, “We need an interception.” Holding them to a field goal would be fine, since 11 points in 4 minutes of a CFL game isn’t that far-fetched. But it’s the Grey Cup. We need the ball back without giving up anything.

NEXT PLAY.

The Stampeders receiver makes a catch and starts running to the end zone instead of going down.

At this point, and I swear to you, I saw an Argo behind him and said to myself, “Punch the ball out.”

I’M SERIOUS.

So, Mo Hero (not his actual name, just go with it) gets tackled by about four Argos and forgets to cover the ball with two hands. Oh no.

OH YES.

FUMBLE!

The ball is out! THE BALL IS OUT!

Cassius Vaughn picks up the ball on our 1-yard line and takes it 109 yards back the other way.

TOUCHDOWN ARGOS.

24-22.

We need a two-point conversion.

We got it!

24-24.

At this point, Calgary might as well have left the stadium because their souls were already boarding the bus.

Toronto gets the ball back and marches down the field and kicks a field goal.

27-24.

They left 53 seconds on the clock for Calgary. In the CFL, that is a lot of time. The clock stops after each play in the final three minutes and starts again when the referee whistles the play in. Basically, a team could be ready at the line of scrimmage before a play is whistled in.

That’s what I love about the CFL. There isn’t a lot of wasted time.

So Calgary gets within field goal range in about 30 seconds. I quickly went from thinking we were going to overtime, to thinking we were going to give up a touchdown.

But no, there’s no way Calgary would risk an interception, right? There is absolutely no way…

Calgary’s quarterback, Bo Levi Mitchell, threw it to the end zone….

INTERCEPTED!

ARGOS WIN! ARGOS WIN! ARGOS WIN!

And for the second year in a row, the “best team in the regular season” blew it in the big one to a team without a winning record. (Ottawa had an 8-9-1 record last season).

I’ve found the CFL to be entertaining ever since I found a game while clicking around the TV in the late 90s. No one around me at school ever cared about the CFL. I remember wearing an Edmonton Eskimos jersey to school and everyone thought it was a Green Bay Packers jersey.

I had to show them the logo to prove it wasn’t.

Don’t ask me why I’m an Argos fan but had an Eskimos jersey. I’ll be here all day explaining it.

But still, the Argos were popular in the early 2000s. They would get between 26,000 – 30,000 at home games. To all the Americans reading this, don’t scoff. We don’t have big 70,000 seat stadiums.

30,000 at a football game is tremendous.

I don’t know what happened, but over the last 8-10 years the fans have gone away.

The Argos and the CFL are seen as “uncool” or “not as good as the NFL”. People complained that their stadium was the problem. They were right. Playing out of a baseball stadium wasn’t doing them any favours.

So what did they do? They moved down the road to share a stadium with Toronto FC – the soccer team in town.

Well, how dare they!?

Toronto FC has been terrible for their entire existence, except the last two years. Nevertheless, they’ve had a rabid fanbase since the beginning who strive to make the atmosphere something that Europe would be proud of.

When TFC fans heard they now had to share a stadium, they hated it. They still hate it.

“NO ARGOS AT BMO” is what the signs said. (BMO Field is the name of the stadium).

And the Argos assured them, “Don’t worry. Your precious little field won’t be ruined. You’ll never be able to tell.”

TFC fans continue to act like children about it, though.

The Argos didn’t have any logos (their own, and sponsors) on the field all season, which is custom in the CFL. They were all digitized on the television broadcast, as to not ruin the field.

Oh, but even that isn’t good enough. Because people who see the game on TV are wondering why the logos look strange.

Moral of the story: You can’t please people who don’t want to be pleased.

Attendance has been poor the last two years at BMO Field, when all this time, a different stadium was seen as part of the answer to solving the attendance woes.

Personally, I haven’t been to an Argos game at the new stadium. I have no one to go with. I don’t know anyone who is an Argos fan. I mean a real, legit Argos fan. And I’m not going to go and sit by myself. Sorry.

Toronto is very much a trendy city. No one cared about the Blue Jays or baseball until they started winning.

It was the same thing as the Argos.

“Oh, look how empty the stadium is. No one goes to games. They suck.”

Well, TFC was terrible forever and fans still showed up. It’s not like MLS is a high-quality soccer league either. So what was it? Atmosphere? The old high school mentality that “this is where the party is”? Probably.

It amazes me how many people here love the NFL and are devoted to their “team” in a different country, but don’t care about their local team in the CFL.

I’m not saying they have to go to games. Watch it on TV. You might find it’s way more entertaining than an NFL game. I sure do.

There, I think I let out all of my thoughts on football in Canada.

Bottom line, it’s a great league and it’s a great product. I’ve always found it to be entertaining and I hope more people do, too.

So for one final time, congratulations to the Toronto Argonauts, and a good ol’ fashioned “sorry” to the Calgary Stampeders. Maybe we can get them a gift card to Tim Hortons as a consolation prize.

Now then, about those milk bags we have…

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About Paul

This is the part where I'm supposed to write something interesting about myself and you'll read it and think, "That's not that interesting." So let's not do that and just think about pizza instead, on the count of three. One, two, three. Donuts. Now, wasn't that interesting?
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23 Responses to The Toronto Argonauts are Grey Cup Champions

  1. So I may have skipped over most of what you wrote about the actual game since I’m not a football person, but why was the game being played in Ottawa when neither of the teams was FROM Ottawa? Tres weird, Paul.

    Also, Wishbone would have ACED dressing up as an empty seat. He rocks the costumes. Continue being an awesome ambassador for Canada via your online posts! Wishbone would be proud.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anthony says:

    I always watch the Grey Cup with my father. It has become a tradition. He didn’t tell me until I was seated in front of his TV (a beer firmly in hand) that he wanted to go to the game because he had been in Ottawa 50 years earlier for game in Ottawa. If only I had known.
    It was exactly how the Grey Cup should be. It featured two very different teams (an underdog even) and snow. Who doesn’t love snow at a major sporting event.
    I was hoping for a turnover on Calgary’s second last drive–and I got it. What a run. It may not have looked pretty, but it he still had defenders to beat.
    Awesome game–glad I didn’t have to face the media after that disastrous play call.

    Oh, and my Western Mustangs took the Vanier.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      The snow was amazing. I was at the Leafs Winter Classic in Detroit in 2014. It was freezing, couldn’t feel my feet, and there was snow most of the game, but it was the best time ever. Apparently the new CFL commissioner is in favour of moving the schedule up a month so the season ends in October. I don’t know if I like that. Something about football in late November just feels right in Canada.

      It was a great game. Congrats to you and the Mustangs. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a university team like that before.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. OH CANADA! Finally, A REAL CANADIAN POST! This is what I’m talking about… well… what Paul (my Canadian twin brother—no relation of course) is talking about. But everyone should be talking about this game. AND WHAT A GAME! There I was watching another boring old NFL 49er game—did I mention I’m a 49er fan and that they lost again?—when I remembered that the CFL Grey Cup was being played on another channel in another country. Naturally, being an American in California, I switched channels to watch the Grey Cup, which coincidentally, is not grey—even in colour. But who cares, IT WAS SNOWING! A football game played in the elements—what a novel concept. Then there was the Royal Canadian Mounties—REAL CANADIAN MOUNTIES WHO WEREN’T EVEN MOUNTED! But what the hell, right? I mean, who wants to see a bunch of mounties riding horseback on a football field anyway? Well maybe I and a bunch of other disenchanted Americans would. But still I couldn’t pass up a chance to watch a CFL game being played on a football field with strange dimensions and endzones you could park a semi-truck in—its not such a bad way to spend a Sunday evening. That, and getting to see Shania Twain dog sledding her way out to center stage at halftime—WAHOO! And, although, I was completely indifferent as to who might perform in the halftime show, I was absolutely certain that the Grey Cup’s (might it be silver?) halftime show would not suck like most NFL halftime shows—which act only as an excuse to promote what’s coming on that network after the game. Then there was the game itself…WOW, WHAT FUN! Such a highly entertaining game with lots of snowfall in the night, lots of passing, lots of sliding after tackles, and a thrilling finish to talk aboot! Oh my god…my closet Canadian might be slipping through. Are you paying attention NFL—this is how it’s done! Unfortunately… the game ended and it was back to the states with me—but clawing and scratching all the way. All I can say is… Paul I’m jealous that you folks up there have a game that’s really fun—and perhaps an occasional moose wearing plaid wouldn’t be too bad either, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dutch Lion says:

    Hey Paul! I was thinking of you Sunday as I knew you were watching the game. Luckily, I didn’t forget about turning it on TV…..until the 3rd quarter. I was looking forward to it all week, all season, etc. and then after the Bears/Eagles game I was out playing basketball and soccer with my kids on a balmy November day in Illinois. So we went inside and I’m like, “Guys, GREY CUP!” So I tuned in during the 3rd quarter. Anyway, fantastic game! I loved it. The snow was super cool, the mounties, the actual Grey Cup Trophy, the hotel, the mounties perched up high overlooking the field while holding the Cup, etc.

    As you know, I love the Grey Cup for several reasons. One, I know alot of these players and coaches from the States. For example, I had DeVier Posey on my college fantasy team when he played at Ohio St. Also, Marc Trestman was our Bears coach for 3 years. Anyway, the game was awesome. I was happy for you, Posey, Trestman, and all the Argos for this amazing story and season. On the other hand, I feel bad for Calgary. They had it…..and then they lost it. Heartbreak City!

    I’m glad you wrote about this or else I would have had to do it in your stead. Thanks and congrats Paul!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I’m glad you got to tune in! Do you know if a lot of Americans watch the Grey Cup or…? I’ve always wondered that whenever the broadcast team mentions they are live on ESPN (insert number here).

      It was a great game. I loved the snow, the atmosphere, and the unpredictability of it all. I think Calgary wanted redemption so badly after losing the Grey Cup last year, that they let this slip away as a result. Last year, Ottawa won the game on the final drive and didn’t give Calgary any time to make a comeback. I think their QB had that in mind which is why he wanted the winning touchdown instead of the game tying FG.

      I can only hope the Super Bowl can live up to the level of drama in this game!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dutch Lion says:

        That’s a good question regarding viewership. I have no actual data. However, I can say that the top “promoters” of the CFL (other than the “Dutch Lion” who LOVES it) are Chris “Boomer” Berman from ESPN and former QB Doug Flutie. Since Flutie retired I would guess the American interest has declined. But the game is on ESPN2, ESPNews, and ESPNU now more than ever.

        For me personally, I love the former US college players, as well as the coaches. Also, I love the stuff you talked about, the snow, the fans, the atmosphere, etc. I love the rules differences too. And I love how the season goes from June to November. The NFL is September to February which is a a little strange. I was ok with January but Feb is a bit weird.

        I want to buy CFL stuff but I’m still trying to figure out my favorite team. Toronto is certainly in the running after this year’s amazing story. Thanks Paul.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        Yeah I like how the season is in the summer and fall. It’s a nice alternative from baseball once a week.

        About a decade ago the Argos signed Ricky Williams during the year he was suspended from the NFL. I don’t think we did it for any other reason that the publicity. He was okay, but the team wasn’t. That was a time where we tried to build our top positions around former NFLers. We had a QB tandem of Cleo Lemon and Mike McMahon at one point. It was not good.

        Here’s some inside info, I think Johnny Manziel will be signing with Hamilton for next season. He met with the Commissioner in September (I think) and he laid out some guidelines for him and if he met them he could sign in Hamilton. So prepare for the media down there to go bananas about this next year! I think he’d actually do well up here.

        Like

      • Dutch Lion says:

        Oh yeah! I wanted to address a couple other things. Even though the NFL is on Super Bowl 52, the league was actually started in 1920 by George “Papa Bear” Halas. But obviously if the CFL is on Grey Cup 105, then they must have started in 1912 or so? Tell me more! I want to know more! Have there always been 9 teams? Do some cities want expansion teams? And I LOVED how they played the song when they presented the Grey Cup. It was very……Royalty-ish, or maybe Medieval-ish. So cool.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        My quick research just reminded me that the CFL was founded in 1958. Before that, there were two leagues in Canada that played a rugby-football style. I don’t know what that would look like exactly, but probably fewer whistles and less play calls. Then those two leagues merged and the CFL was born.

        There have always been 8 or 9 teams with the same cities. Ottawa has come in and out a bunch of times. The Ottawa Rough Riders were a team from the late 1800s – 1996. In the early 2000s they returned as the Ottawa Renegades (probably because it was silly to have 2 teams in the league named the Roughriders). That version lasted about 4-5 years though I still have one of their caps in my closet! Was one of my favourites. And then Ottawa came back again in 2014 after getting a new stadium and it’s been popular in that city since.

        Now to blow your mind… From 1993-1995 there were a handful of American teams in the CFL. Baltimore, Birmingham, Las Vegas (they butchered the Canadian anthem during the first game – it still gets replayed on Top 10 lists here), Memphis, Sacramento, and Shreveport. That didn’t last long and we went back to 9 teams.

        Eventually, I think there will be 10 teams in the CFL, with the 10th team going out east to Atlantic Canada. It’ll probably end up in Halifax. But they don’t have a stadium. It’s been talked about for years and they don’t seem any closer to getting a stadium.

        Like

  5. Barb Knowles says:

    Best Blog Post In Recorded History. I laughed so loudly that Tim would have divorced me if he were home * I remember wearing an Edmonton Eskimos jersey to school and everyone thought it was a Green Bay Packers jersey.* Hysterical. In that one sentence you encapsulated the whole rooting for a team in a different country that plays a different game…awesome. As you know I have a fascination with CFL. For this American, it is like football in a futuristic fantasy world. Not fantasy football, like football in 2054. Where now it’s possible to play on a 110 yard field and have the clock stop more frequently and have a crazy end zone.
    Linguistically, though, I’m wondering why it’s the Grey Cup instead of the Gray Cup. Is that like the U ? Plus, why Grey? Is it someone’s name? Why not Blue Cup, or Maple Cup. For real I’m wondering why.
    And Argonauts….how cool is that name. I’ll go to a game with you. I’ve been known to stand up and scream GO FOR THE CONVERSION. You are a kindred spirit.
    Thanks for this post. I like football way more than hockey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Haha glad you enjoyed it!
      Here’s another thing you might not know, the uprights are at the front of the end zone, not the back. It allows missed field goals to be returned rather than just sailing through the end zone. But if the ball is kicked through the end zone or the returner downs the ball in the end zone, it’s called a Rouge and 1 point is awarded to the kicking team. FUN, EH?

      Maybe that can be your thing to scream at games. “GO FOR THE ROUGE!”

      Grey Cup is named after a guy named Earl Grey. He was the governor general in 1909. He also has a tea – Earl Grey Tea. My favourite english teacher would always drink it. (Quick research tells me the Earl Grey from the tea is not related to the Earl Grey of the Cup. Ironically ironic.)

      Here’s a fun fact, the Grey Cup has been stolen twice and held for ransom once. It’s also bigger and nicer looking than the Super Bowl trophy. What’s the deal with that? That trophy looks tiny in comparison.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Barb Knowles says:

        I love Earl Grey tea and always assumed the Earl was a title like Baron or Viscount. I LOVE the rouge! I guess for the francophones? I don’t like the idea of the uprights in front of the end zone. But I guess I could get used to it, lol.
        Who stole the Grey Cup? Robbers?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        Well with a 20 yard end zone, putting the uprights at the back would mean a kick from the 30 yard line is about a 57 yard field goal. It would reduce scoring, and the CFL is all about scoring. Hence the ROUGE. Plus it’s fun when the QB throws a ball into the end zone and it hits the upright. It’s like another defender.

        I do not know who stole the Grey Cup lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Barb Knowles says:

    Oh and the anthem and the snow and the logos and not-Santa in the sled…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Oh and I should probably tell you the other cool team names in the CFL. Or maybe you already know them?
      Toronto Argonauts
      Calgary Stampeders
      Ottawa RedBlacks
      Hamilton Tiger-Cats
      Winnipeg Blue Bombers
      Saskatchewan Roughriders
      BC Lions
      Edmonton Eskimos
      Montreal Alouettes

      Liked by 1 person

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