Now that the 2012 CFL season has come to an end and I have recovered from Grey Cup (minus the annual cold I get when I come back), I thought I’d just ramble on a bit about Grey Cup and some of the news that’s happened since the final whistle blew on the season. I hope it promotes some discussion!
Congratulations to the Toronto Argonauts on their championship season, and also to the city of Toronto who put on a great party for CFL fans from across the country. Certainly it would have been nice to see more locals involved in the fun, but the fans that do support the Argos are just as passionate as any in the country and I’m pleased to call many of them friends. Here’s hoping the fun and the passion that invaded their city converted a few more into fans of the league and of the Argos.
I thought the game itself lacked drama but full credit to the Argos who were certainly ready to play, while the Stampeders looked as though they left their game in BC Place following the Western Final. Chad Kackert was an easy choice as the MOP and Ricky Ray showed his poise and experience as well. As a neutral fan it was nice to watch a stress free game, but as a Lions fan I was certainly left wondering what might have been.
Everyone knows about the great party rooms at Grey Cup, but some of the lesser known events often tend to be the best. This year, I was pleased to attend the CFL Fans Fight Cancer fundraiser at Joe Badali’s. The event was organized by the eastern chapter of the national fan group and led by Jen Mulder who did a fantastic job organizing a silent auction, raffle prizes, a 50/50 and a live auction. Prizes were donated from businesses and fans from across the country. At last count over $8000.00 was raised for the Wellspring Centre in Toronto, a facility that provides various levels of help and support for people living with cancer and their families. Congrats to all the organizers of this event on its huge success.
The 4th annual Official CFL Grey Cup Tweetup was held at Shoeless Joe’s Sports Bar. The event has become a staple since the original tweetup in Calgary in 2009. Fans that use twitter gathered together to get social and put faces to the Twitter handles. There were lots of prizes and great food, as well as a visit from a few players, the commissioner and the Grey Cup itself.
New this year was the “Grey Cup Fan March” where fans gathered at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium and carried the Grey Cup through the streets of downtown Toronto and onto the Rogers Centre. I was fortunate enough to be asked if I wanted to carry the Grey Cup for a segment near the beginning of the march, and I gladly accepted the chance to do so. It was a great experience, and the march itself was a success. Fans chanted “CFL” and sang the national anthem with CFL commissioner Mark Cohon marching right along with them. Imagine that, Gary Bettman.
Lions News and Notes
Speculation has begun about how the Lions roster will be altered this off-season. So far it has been reported that Solomon Elimimian has reportedly asked for his release to pursue another opportunity in the NFL.
Jovan Olafioye will also entertain offers from south of the border but has indicated he won’t be auditioning for teams like he did last season. Olayfioye told the Vancouver Sun that if a decent offer with a solid signing bonus doesn’t come his way, he’ll have no problem staying in Canada.
Wally Buono will wait for personnel reports and recommendations from head coach Mike Benevides and will have his work cut out for him when he returns from his annual Hawaiian holiday. He’ll attempt to get Shawn Gore’s name on a new contract, and will have tough decisions to make regarding the secondary, the receivers and the offensive line, which is likely to look quite different next year, especially if Angus Reid retires and Olafioye heads south.
For the first time, people are questioning the role of Geroy Simon who had a subpar year that was plagued by nagging hamstring injuries. Simon is not making any noise about retiring, so one of the biggest decisions the club has had to make in years is looming. Personally I’d like to see him back, possibly in a reduced role and likely a reduced contract as well. Whether that is something he would entertain is another issue. Regardless, Simon is one of the greatest to ever play the game and he certainly deserves some say in what his future holds. I doubt Arland Bruce will be back, and the Lions have shown they have some good talent waiting in the wings in Nick Moore, Ernest Jackson and Courtney Taylor.
Then there is the kicking game, where Paul McCallum showed signs of his age in 2012. His punting, which was his strong suit suffered this past year and his kickoffs and field goal range are starting to deteriorate as well. With Hugh O’Neill looking good the last two seasons in training camp and at practice, the Lions may feel it is time to pass the torch before they lose another kicker they have taken the time to groom. Last time the club chose McCallum over Sean Whyte, now with Montreal, but it could be a different story next season.
Odds and Ends
Anyone find it odd that the furor over Adriano Belli’s move that got him tossed from the Grey Cup game got very little mention from the media compared to Khalif Mitchell? Belli has played on the edge his whole career, but it looks like his penchant for kissing people and his forays into the media world got him a pass. The CFL fined Belli, who is expected to retire but we certainly didn’t hear the comments about “disgrace to the game” from the people that persecuted Mitchell. Speaking of Mitchell it remains to be seen if the Lions will be willing to take a chance with him for another season.
Locker Room Sale
The Lions held their annual locker room sale on December 1st and while there were some good deals to be had it was disheartening to see the prices on game worn jerseys and helmets. These items ranged in price from $250 to $750 depending on the player. Reports from similar events in other CFL cities had these items much cheaper. It’s always sad when the diehard fan ends up getting shut out because the prices are set so high. In 2004 I bought Antonio Warren’s Grey Cup game worn jersey for $150.00. That’s just a pipe dream today.
Thanks to Monique Gendron who provided us with some great videos this year, and I hope she’ll be back to help us out again next season.
Thanks to Lowell Ullrich who approached this blogger two years ago with an idea to add a fan perspective to the Province.com. I’ve had a blast doing post game reports and I look forward to doing it again if they’ll have me.
It was also a pleasure as always to work with Kristina Sinclair and our friends at the Rosedale on Robson and we hope to continue that relationship in 2013.
Most of all, thanks to all of you who followed along with me during the 2012 season. Whether you read the blog, my post game stuff on The Province.com of just follow me on Twitter or Facebook, I appreciate you doing so and always enjoy the feedback.
I’ll make every effort to keep your informed and promote Lions discussion this off-season and hope you continue to check our social media platforms out. I’ll be thinking of ways we can be better and hope to add some quality features and a few more people to our team next season.
Until then, enjoy the off-season and as always, roar you Lions roar!