Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think Bill Belichick would love the rule the CFL Competition Committee adopted this year: instant replay on pass-interference calls and non-calls. Coaches have two replay challenges per game, as in the NFL, but they can use it if they think a receiver’s gotten mugged. It turned into a key play in the first game of the season Thursday night in Winnipeg. Winnipeg coach Mike O’Shea challenged an uncalled but clear pass-interference infraction, and it allowed the Blue Bombers to get the ball at the opposing 1-yard line and score an easy touchdown.
2. I think I saw a perfect example why interference should be adjusted to be a reviewable play. Coach Corey Chamblin of the Roughriders showed me in his office Sunday morning a play from last year’s final minute in the Eastern Conference final between Montreal and Hamilton. Duron Carter, the wide receiver, got mugged in the end zone. No call. The game was tied and went to overtime. “That play,” said Chamblin, “could have been the difference between Montreal going to the Grey Cup and Hamilton going home.”
3. I think something I’ve re-thought after seeing two games over the weekend is that Tim Tebow would be a tough fit here. You’ve got to be an accurate passer to succeed in the CFL, because of the wide field—12 yards wider than the NFL field—and the fact that you’re playing in more weather than in the United States. Tebow has often been talked of as a good fit in the CFL, and he would be a desirable player in Canada because of his name. “But one of his major downfalls is accuracy,” Saskatchewan assistant GM Jeremy O’Day said. “I think he would struggle.” Tebow is on Montreal’s negotiating list, but he and his reps have shown no interest in playing in the CFL.
4. I think something I never hear in an NFL locker room I heard five times Saturday afternoon from players in Calgary: “Thanks for coming.” Or, “Great that you came to Canada. Thanks.”
5. I think one of the quirky things I heard here was in Calgary, where the Stamps play “Sweet Caroline” just the way it’s played at Fenway Park, shutting down the “so good, so good, so good” so the fans can take it away. They were good at it too.
6. I think I was pleased to see Luke Tasker score the lone Hamilton touchdown Sunday. Scary how much he reminds me of his dad, Steve, the Buffalo Bills great—as a player and as a polite person just happy to be playing football. Luke Tasker, who played collegiately at Cornell, got dropped from his free-agent trial in San Diego after camp last year and signed with Hamilton in the fall. He played in the Grey Cup loss at Saskatchewan, and was back Sunday with four catches for 37 yards, including a four-yard touchdown that was a superb catch because of how tough it was to keep a foot inbounds (you only need to get one down in the CFL). “I’ll play for as long as I can,” Tasker said. “My wife and I are setting up our home in Hamilton, and because it’s so close to Buffalo, about an hour and 20 minutes, it’s a good place so my family can come and see me play.” He said he likes the game a lot. “It’s a different kind of exhaustion for a receiver because you’re running so much,” he said.
7. I think the starkest difference between the two leagues, north and south, is the salary cap. NFL in 2014: $130 million. CFL in 2014: $5 million.
8. I think you’ll read some different perspectives in the next couple of weeks in this space. Oakland rookie Khalil Mack will take my spot next Monday, and Rich Eisen of NFL Network two weeks from today. I’m going to Italy. Excited about it. I’ll be back three weeks from today, live from the first open camp in the NFL—Buffalo’s, in Pittsford, N.Y.
9. I think I need your help. Tomorrow my column will be your words on our CFL coverage, and whether you want more of it or less. I’ll run the best mail from you. Be specific about what you like or don’t like. As I said when we started a week ago, you’ll determine by your visits to our site and your clicks on our stories whether you want us to write more about the CFL. No matter what, I won’t commit to covering it weekly, but if the numbers are good we’ll check in on the CFL during the season. Send your thoughts to me today, on Twitter or at the email address in the box to the right.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Lovely country up here. I love driving. John Madden used to talk about how he disliked the flyover mentality that people have when they travel, like they were really seeing things when actually they were flying over things and not seeing them. I have a real feel of the prairies in Canada now. Though the rain here has been outlandish, the green and the ponds and the wheatfields … beautiful and placid.
b. The World Cup seems fun, though not many in Alberta and Saskatchewan seemed tied to their TVs over it. Saw a replay of the penalty called on the Mexico player in the box, allowing the Netherlands to convert the winning penalty kick. Thought it was a foul, but the embellishment … totally classless.
c. Incredible: thisclose to having both Mexico and Costa Rica the final eight. Congrats to the latter.
d. Welcome, Mookie.
e. Coffeenerdness I: There is a drive-through Starbucks in Medicine Hat. After a short night Saturday and a 4.5-hour drive Sunday, that was a hugely welcome sight.
f. Coffeenerdness II: Then, just 45 minutes out of Regina, we stopped in Moose Jaw at a Tim Horton’s. Busy morning at the Moose Jaw TimHo’s. I was 19th in line. My review of the coffee? I’m more of a dark-roast kind of guy. I drank the coffee, and it was okay, but I need a darker blend.
g. Beernerdness: Tried the Great Western Brewing Company’s Original 16 Pale Ale in Regina. Seemed like a good drinking beer—and by that I mean you could have more than two and not feel leaden—but not particularly memorable. I can always say I had a beer from Saskatoon.
h. One more thing about the upcoming week: We’re just finishing up Canada Week. Now we’re onto Beach Reading Week. Starting tomorrow, we’ll have four installments of a Bill Syken novella I think you’ll really like.
i. Right. Beach Reading Week. Give something new a try, the same way you tried Canada Week.
The Adieu Haiku
See you in three weeks.
Just one recommendation:
Try the CFL.