Canadian Appreciation

Quotes of the Week

I

“Major foul … rough play … number 34 Montreal … disqualification … 25-yard penalty.”

—Referee Kim Murphy during the Montreal-Calgary game Saturday.

There are many odd pronouncements from the refs during CFL games, at least compared to the Steratores and Hochulis of the NFL world. That was about the strangest one of the weekend. Montreal linebacker Kyries Hebert absolutely bludgeoned Stampeders running back Jon Cornish with a classic ’70s forearm shiver to the helmet, knocking Cornish out momentarily. 

II

“The 20-second play clock totally changes the games. That’s the biggest adjustment any receiver has to make up here. The play clock, it never, ever stops.”

—Wide receiver Maurice Price of the Calgary Stampeders, by way of Charleston Southern, on how the 20-second play clock and the pre-snap running the receivers do makes the Canadian game different from the American one. 

III

“Every NFL team should be after Cris Carter’s son. [Montreal wide receiver] Duron Carter is a phenomenal athlete. He’s got every measurable. He’s fast, 6-foot-4, can be a punt returner in the NFL with his size, can run with the ball, has got tremendous body control. When he got on the field last year for us he was just phenomenal. And hopefully he stays healthy this year. He’ll be a highly, highly sought after, Cam Wake kind of guy. This is Duron’s second year, and another year is going to be great for him. But this guy can go in and be a one or two guy [first or second receiver]. He is phenomenal. He can’t finish in the CFL season and then go to NFL in 2014, but teams could sign him to a futures deal for 2015.’’

—Montreal GM Jim Popp, on his young and tall receiver, Duron Carter.

The Award Section

QB Drew Willy was the star in Winnipeg's season-opening win over Toronto. (Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
QB Drew Willy was the star in Winnipeg’s season-opening win over Toronto. (Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

Offensive Player of the Week

Drew Willy, QB, Winnipeg. Willy is 27 years old, from Randolph, N.J. Since starting for the University at Buffalo Bulls of the Mid-American Conference, Willy is on his seventh team—four in the NFL, one in the United Football League (Las Vegas), and Saskatchewan and Winnipeg up north. In his first start for the Bombers Thursday night, he completed 19 of 27 passes for 308 yards with four touchdowns and one pick. Winnipeg won 45-21.

Defensive Players of the Week

Rick Foley, DE, Saskatchewan. Hamilton’s offensive line and quarterback, Zach Collaros, were badly outmatched by the Roughrider defensive front, led by Foley. He had six tackles and three sacks as the defense buzzed around Collaros all day.

Almondo Sewell, DT, Edmonton. Sewell, born in Jamaica and schooled at the University of Akron (Canada likes the MAC), had two sacks and a stout presence in the second half of the Eskimos’ 27-20 win at British Columbia. Edmonton held the Lions to three second-half points, thanks to a good run defense and pressure from the line.

Special Teams Players of the Week

Josh Bartel, P/K, Saskatchewan. You had to be in Mosaic Stadium on Sunday to feel the wind, and to feel how hard it would be to be remotely competent punting the football. Bartel angled a low dart through a 28-mph wind that skittered out of bounds at the Hamilton three-yard line, probably the single most impressive play I saw in two games. Bartel’s a former Australian Rules Football player from Wodonga, Australia. You know Bartel. He’s a former Murray Bushranger.

Sean Whyte, P/K, Montreal. The second-most accurate kicker in CFL history (.820 in field goals) missed an early field goal at Calgary but made up for it with his punting day. He had 11 punts for an average of 52.1 yards—including a 93-yard monster with the wind.

Coach of the Week

Richie Hall, defensive coordinator, Saskatchewan. On a day fit for neither man nor scuba diver in Regina, Hall continued to put a dominant defense on the field. The Roughriders, under Hall, were the top defense in the CFL last year and rode that performance to a Grey Cup title. In Sunday’s Grey Cup rematch, the Roughriders pulverized the Tiger-Cats through the first two quarters, leading 24-1 at the half (don’t you love that score—24-1?). For the day, Hall’s swarming defense, blitzing different players, had 10 sacks and allowed the defending Eastern Conference champs just 201 yards in a 31-10 win.

Goat of the Week

Troy Smith, QB, Montreal. The former Heisman Trophy winner—and occasional San Francisco and Baltimore quarterback—has the unenviable job of succeeding the most productive quarterback in CFL history, Montreal’s Anthony Calvillo. His debut did not go well. Smith went 18 of 41 for 154 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception. He was consistently high or wide on a windy day in Alberta. Considering his strong receiving corps, he won’t last long with many more performances like that one.

Stat of the Week

With the retirement of Anthony Calvillo, the CFL has lost its most productive quarterback ever. Comparing Calvillo’s passing line to the NFL’s yardage leader, Brett Favre, who played 27 fewer games:

Player G Pct. Yards TD-Int.
Calvillo, CFL 329 .624 79,816 455-224
Favre, NFL 302 .620 71,838 508-336

.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

Michael Sam is on the Montreal Alouettes’ negotiating list, and GM Jim Popp wants him if he doesn’t stick in St. Louis. Popp told our Jenny Vrentas: “He has the skill set to rush the passer and he is not your prototypically sized guy rushing the passer in the NFL. He would be a great fit for the CFL if it doesn’t work [in St. Louis].”

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

It’s been a long time since I had a travel debacle as big as this weekend’s. Don Banks and I had a boys’ day out at Wrigley Field on Friday, a lovely afternoon in the bleachers. I was set to be on an 8:05 p.m. flight from Chicago to Calgary, and it got canceled. United told me that to make it to Calgary in time for the 1 p.m. MT start of the Saturday game, I’d have to fly to San Francisco and then get the first flight out from there in the morning. Which meant not sleeping, except on the plane or at SFO. So I did it. Then the flight from San Francisco to Calgary was delayed an hour and a half Saturday, and I ended up getting to the game in the second quarter.

But I did get to stay in a lovely, classic hotel in Regina: the Hotel Saskatchewan. Next time you’re out on the prairie, I recommend it highly.

How about this travel note from Jenny Vrentas, leaving Manitoba Friday morning after covering Winnipeg’s opener?

Customs agent: “Who do you work for?”
Vrentas: “The MMQB … Sports Illustrated.”
Customs agent: “What were you reporting on in Winnipeg?”
Vrentas: “The Blue Bombers!”
Customs agent: (incredulous) “For Sports Illustrated?”
Vrentas: “The MMQB. It was Canada Week, sir.”

She was allowed to leave the country.

Tweets of the Week

I

I really liked the rouge. It’s a wild-card way to score a point, often when you least expect it.

II

III

Stephen Cripps of Winnipeg was at the Blue Bombers’ decisive opening win over Toronto … after Winnipeg went 3-15 last year. The tweet comes from our Jenny Vrentas, on the scene to witness the Bombers’ opener.

PREV 1 2 3 4 5NEXT VIEW AS A SINGLE PAGE
More from The MMQB
185 comments
cabobyn
cabobyn

Pretty good article on the great CFL game.

SD2014
SD2014

"But I did get to stay in a lovely, classic hotel in Regina: the Hotel Saskatchewan"

It is a "lovely" hotel.  They have a "royal suite."  It is where the queen stays when she visits Regina.  A quite nice hotel!

SD2014
SD2014

The Best Player We've Never Seen

I am not sure if anybody would have ever seen Calvillo.  He broke into the league with the Las Vegas Posse, an expansion team that existed for a couple seasons when the CFL tried to move into the US.  If it wasn't for that, he may never have gotten is chance.

The CFL is full of players like that.  Guys that just weren't in the right place at the right time, or just lack the size for the NFL.  In the CFL speed is much more important.

You wonder how many other guys there are out there like this who NEVER get a chance.  We probably wouldn't know who Tom Brady was if Brew Bledsoe never got hurt.  Same thing for Curt Warner who came out of Arena ball.

SD2014
SD2014

Something for every football fan's bucket list.

GO TO A GREY CUP!

San Diego has hosted 2 Super Bowls since I have lived here and neither one was anywhere near as much fun as a Grey Cup.  Sure there are great Super Bowl parties - hosted by Playboy, Sports Illustrated, Maxim Magazine - and I am NOT getting an invite to any of them.  And Super Bowl tickets are so expensive most normal fans can't afford them.  

While the Super Bowl is all about team owners and celebrities, the rich and famous out to see and be seen,  The Grey Cup is about the fans.  Fans can actually afford tickets.  Each team has a hospitality suite for their fans - not just the 2 teams in the Grey Cup, but each team in the league.  The whole city is one big party the week before the game (if you're not in Toronto or Vancouver), and it's the fans, not owners and celebrities who are at the party.  

Come the week before a Grey Cup.  Spend the entire week there.  See one of the players ride a horse into his team's hotel (a Grey Cup tradition), and go to the game.  The best cities to see a Grey Cup in are Regina, and Winnipeg (if you can handle the cold), then Calgary and Edmonton, followed by Hamilton and Montreal, Ottawa probably next.  The party doesn't seem to go city-wide in Vancouver and Toronto - although they are great cities to visit.  Montreal is kind of the same way - but the entire city of Montreal is a big party - so that's okay.  

If you get the chance GO TO A GREY CUP.  Spend the pre-game week in the host city.  It is both much more affordable than a Super Bowl and MUCH MORE FUN!

maxhyde
maxhyde

Well done Mr. King!  Kudos to covering all these players and this league.

I am a Canadian living in the US and love the NFL but I do miss the CFL living down here.


Thanks for giving our great game a column!



RobertPeter
RobertPeter

.....IF you can get past the HYPE/B.S. of the NFL.....and watch a few C.F.L. games you will be greatly entertained simply because our game is BETTER.....

RobertPeter
RobertPeter

Thanks For Coming To The C.F.L.....Peter

RobertPeter
RobertPeter

well i finally have a place to share some thoughts i have had for over 55 years.......the best football game played in America each year for the last 55 years is The Grey Cup.....when ever i watch a NFL game that everyone is amazed how great a game it was My Mind says to myself it kinda close to what we watch every week in the C.F.L......when the 49s were playing what they called west coast football seemed to me they had been watching the C.F.L......our players play for the love of the game not the money.....our game is bigger faster and more fun......P.S.....our BALLS are bigger......one last thing......if you need 4 downs to get 10 yards you can let the girls play......GO LIONS GO.....  

edgrbrown1
edgrbrown1

needless to say, but.... there will be corn and cow on BBQ.

edgrbrown1
edgrbrown1

bonjour pierre. the Thanksgiving day classics. ours is earlier than in USA. anyways it is when the push for playoffs really starts.

edgrbrown1
edgrbrown1

sorry pete. had to spell spell right. Alouettes.hmmm. still looks wrong. i am bilingual, i think.Go Habs Go.

edgrbrown1
edgrbrown1

hi peter. great idea covering cfl.the grey cup is in Vancouver this year i think? my mom is from Saskatchewan, so, green riders rule.hahaha, i have been to Regina and Moose Jaw.live in TO now. Argos suck. maybe Ticats? we still have the crossover playoff thing right?east to west? Peter please come up to Canada for the long weekend classics. esks vs stamps. sask vs bluebombers. TO vs Tcats.etc.it is good. i might have that wrong. what with red blacks in league now.my alouets are gonna suck now that Tresman is gone.

SteveRowFla
SteveRowFla

I wonder if PK would be okay with MLB  instituting a rule that x% of players have to be US citizens, or if the NFL implemented a policy requiring the racial distribution of the league to mirror the overall population?

KeysSteven
KeysSteven

World's a better place when neighbors share common interests, like grilling, lawn-darts (pre-'75), football (by Wilson®), beer or cerveza, hockey, baseball, fishing, b-ball and tougher rules on greenhouse-gas emissions (?).


A merger (NFL - CFL) is probably out of the question, huh? Just a thought, maybe better this way: brand. It's too bad it took Chad Johnson's northward move to get the editor's attention here, but I'll take it. CFL was plenty good for Bud Grant, "Eagle" Keys, Doug Flutie, Warren Moon and Joe Theismann, it's plenty good for the USofA.

gregatacd
gregatacd

Thx for the coverage, Mr. King!


The existence and success of the CFL proves that the Super Bowl champ should never ever be called the "World Champion"... unless they actually play and win a world championship game. Please stop already with the arrogance.

Would the NFL team win said game? 99% of the time, but that's irrelevant. 

Enjoy the CFL everyone... it the "Fun League" ... as opposed to the "No Fun League"

RickGallinger
RickGallinger

Nice series on the CFL. And I think it's awesome that you got to meet Connie. Very few fans I know that are more hard core than she is. 

blffan4
blffan4

HI Peter:


Looks like from the reviews that we'll be seeing some CFL coverage from time to time and I, along with the majority of your readers, am glad that will be the case. That said, I have a question about the CFL. The NFL moved it's draft back this year and there's talk it could be moved even further back. Does this impact the CFL? I had assumed they held a draft after the NFL draft (so they knew which players were available). Given the fact that their season starts in mid-summer, holding their draft after an even later NFL draft would seem to be troublesome.  Thanks for the coverage of the CFL and for your (largely) weekly job of covering the NFL. I wouldn't miss a week and look forward to your column each week!


FerdBerfel
FerdBerfel

I only now got to read this, but I appreciate the piece AND the CFL.  Growing up in Seattle before the Seahawks existed, I sort of "adopted" the BC Lions as a kid because they were the closest pro football team to us (even though the Seattle media dutifully ignored them).  Most people don't know that the CFL has the third-highest attendance average of any pro sports league in North America, behind only the NFL and MLB.  They have FUN up there because Canadian fans aren't generally a bunch of self-important navel-gazers like we have down here.


I'm not going to read all the comments, Peter, but I'm sure there are plenty of the same "Why are you covering this garbage?" whining like you see from the soccer-haters in America.  What the hell are you people threatened by?  Nobody's FORCING you to read this (or any World Cup coverage, for that matter).  Grow the hell up.

WilloughbyProds
WilloughbyProds

The CFL series was excellent. As the proud owner of a Baltimore Stallions baseball cap, I look forward to more. It is a fun game to watch and as Doug Flutie stated, was playing wide open football while NFL was grounding and pounding. 


There is room for all, there is room for more. 

stevenyitrai
stevenyitrai

One more time ... thank you for coming up to Canada. Too bad you went to Regina and Calgary (from an Edmonton Eskimo Fan!)

daveg2011
daveg2011

Welcome Mookie????? please don't tell me this is ANOTHER deal about those poor, poor red sox? Peter, you are such a homer or at least like most red sox "fans" who came out of the dark closet when they finally won something

alexincalgary
alexincalgary

Thanks MMQB for the coverage of the CFL.  I hope the response is positive enough to keep updates happening, and informing the football fans in the USA of our little league to the north. :-)


Thanks again.

Painstorm77
Painstorm77

I crawled (literally crawled) up a muddy hill and under the Albert Street underpass in Regina where the sidewalks were completely flooded and three cars were under water. I sat through that torrential rain and wind for over 3 hours. If the Riders could play in it, I could sit in it. Fortunately we are of the few who didn't have a flooded basement to worry about so we could go and cheer our Riders on. I wasn't going to miss honouring our Grey Cup champions past and present for anything and I would do it all again tomorrow because that is what we do in Ridernation. There have been times of utter and pure agony being a fan of this team but crying those tears of joy watching my team win the Grey Cup at home on a cold November day in 2013 was worth all of the heartache. It was one of the best days of my life.

I thought the series captured beautifully what we, the fans as well as the coaches and players, all know and understand what is means to love our version of football. I love that you get what is so great about it and that every single play and every single minute matters and can't be wasted.  It may not be for everyone but that's okay. We're happy just to share our game if you're interested. Thank you Peter!  And as always GO RIDERS!!! #bleedgreen

//=S=//

joeandwillie604
joeandwillie604

Thank you Peter King for exceptional coverage of one of my greatest passions in life - the CFL. I hope your perception wasn't tainted by the execution in Week One. With only 2 preseason games, teams are (naturally) not at their best on Opening Day. Hopefully you can come back around Labor Day when the standard of play is elevated, the stakes get higher, and the weather is better and, as a consequence, many stadiums are full.


Go Lions! (British Columbia Lions, that is).

JackReacher32
JackReacher32

It is a neat, and considerably different, game; The truth is the talents that are playing in the CFL are the collegiate talents that could not make it in the NFL.

The game would be great with NFL stars, and I think at points, for fans of prolific offense and zero defense, it might be better than the NFL.

I like defense, the existence, and importance, of a running game, and the parody that exists in the NFL with the number of teams that we have.

I watched whenever games were played on the cable channels I used to get, but without cable now it is unlikely I will be watching anytime soon.

All and all it is a great game, for the time of year, and it beats "America's pastime" hands down.

mynameisasherlev
mynameisasherlev

CFL coverage that doesn't belittle it, by a major American news outlet, makes me happy to be a Canadian. Thanks peter king.

Thatguy1985
Thatguy1985

So Peter... there is a Starbucks in Moose Jaw... just saying.  I really enjoyed the coverage of the CFL that you and the rest of the MMQB staff provided.  Keep up the good work!

Dyldebeest
Dyldebeest

Wish Peter would have talked through a few more of the differences in rules. One that I don't think he mentioned (though I may have missed it) is the absence of a fair catch rule. I love that the CFL returners have to make a play on every kick.

EdEllis
EdEllis

Try Sleeman's next time... better beer. I'm a U.S. citizen living here and a Bombers fan - not always an easy thing to be. But then, I'm also a Panthers fan. For the NFL naysayers - there's room to enjoy both, and not so many differences that it's confusing to learn. I love both leagues. But I can actually afford my Bomber season tickets, and it's worth every cent. Give 'er a go!

PeteBroccolo
PeteBroccolo

Great article.  Hopefully some non-Canadian NFL fans will watch some of the American-broadcasts of the CFL games and get hooked.  I think there are still a few die-hard CFL fans in Baltimore.

SteveRowFla
SteveRowFla

Really PK? Michael Sam and Tim Tebow again? Please bring back the "guest" columnists on a permanent basis.

edgrbrown1
edgrbrown1

@KeysSteven and yes you are right.ultumatly a merger will happen between NFL/CFL.dollars

edgrbrown1
edgrbrown1

@KeysSteven sorry dude. i actually know who bud grant and doug flutie and moon and thiesmen are.

edgrbrown1
edgrbrown1

@KeysSteven hi. really cerveza? hockey rules. you are right about ocho. he will suck. IMO.Molson Export.

DanDrew
DanDrew

@gregatacd  I tried to get into the CFL, many times, and it bored me to tears.  Too much offense for me.  I love that the fans are so into it and there is another style of football out there.  Maybe if I had a rooting interest, but my closest team would be in Montreal.  And, I'm sorry, as a Bruins fan, that ain't happening.
They are called Super Bowl Champs, not world chance.  Saying Grey Cups champs could compete is like saying Arena League teams could compete.  I'm sorry, but that isn't happening.  I'm glad the CFL is getting some exposure, though.


RonDavies
RonDavies

@blffan4 I think this was the first year that the CFL draft was held after the NFL draft.  The CFL draft is only for Canadian players so the only real concern to the CFL would be which Canadian players in US colleges and Canadian universities would be taken (and where) in the NFL draft.


The strategy being if it looked likely that a player would stick in the NFL (ie number one CFL rated OL Laurent Duvernay Tardif at KC) then their value would fall in the CFL draft.  So instead of going number one in the CFL draft LDT was taken in the third round, 19th overall by the Calgary Stampeders.

stewartjk1
stewartjk1

@FerdBerfel The comments on the CFL are almost universally positive, you self-important dipsh*t. 

Rick57
Rick57

@FerdBerfel Nobody is forcing you to be around the self-important, navel-gazing, soccer-hating Americans. If you don't like it, leave. Until then, why don't you grow the hell up. Stupid loser.

drobinson
drobinson

@JackReacher32 Your comment is somewhat inaccurate. It's well known that a decent number of CFL players have the talent to make it in the NFL but not the size. The CFL focuses on smaller, faster players, who compliment the speed of the game and the size of the field. Additionally, the run game is just as important in the CFL (just ask players like Andrew Harris or Jon Cornish). A team that can't run the ball is equally as one-dimensional in the CFL as the NFL. The fast pace and increased throwing of the CFL means that the games are generally higher scoring, but a good defence, again, is very important.

It's nice to see some new respect for the CFL game, I just wish it wasn't constantly followed by a caveat about the time of year, quality of players, etc. Try enjoying it for its own sake.

briananthony
briananthony

@Thatguy1985 Ha! Yes there is. :) But an irish coffee at Bobby's (local pub) would have been better :) 

briananthony
briananthony

@Dyldebeest We have the 5 yard rule though. It means that opposing players (except for the kicker) can be within 5 yards of the ball before it is touched. 


Gs1
Gs1

@Dyldebeest The CFL doesn't have as many 275 pound monsters that run a 4.5 40 or 255 pound TEs running 4.35, bearing down on puny receivers. Someone would get killed at some point.

F Harris
F Harris

@Dyldebeest Last Mondays article by Marc Trestman covered the rule differences.


cabobyn
cabobyn

@DanDrew @gregatacd


Dude, when it gets right down to it - three quarters of the NFL games on tv are crazy boring as well. That's why college ball (and entertaining commercial breaks) were invented.


To suggest that the CFL Grey Cup champs wouldn't be competitive against any NFL team though - is totally nuts, no matter how you slice it. You'd only have to compare player stats to get a sense of how out in left field you really are.

Newsletter