Fear of the Green should be strong
First published in the Lethbridge College Endeavour, Nov. 5, 2008
Since we’re in Western Canada, I’ll assume there are a few people who actually still care that the CFL playoff s have arrived and provide you with how the league might — and probably should — turn out.
While six teams remain, let’s face reality, only four have a shot at winning the Grey Cup and none of them are Winnipeg or Edmonton. Incidentally, when Winnipeg hosts Edmonton in the Eastern semifinal, does anyone wonder why the league gets laughed at?
Anyway, Montreal gets the nod as a possibility only because the big game is at Olympic Stadium and they get to play whichever of the aforementioned nobodies that survives the not-so-East semifinal.
However, regardless of the site of the Cup, the likely champ will come from the West. Th e logical favourite seems to be the Calgary Stampeders and their ridiculous arsenal of offensive weapons.
Considering they only have to win one home game to get to Montreal, feel free to bet on Henry Burris sinking those humongous Crest-white teeth into Lord Grey’s trophy when it’s all over. Their defence is solid enough and their receivers are, without question, the best in the nation.
The team, the coaching staff , and the fans of the red and white should be extremely confident that a sixth championship is coming home. The only problem is, not one of those people is going to sleep well as long as a certain team from a certain wheat-filled province still has a heartbeat.
They’ll all tell you they don’t care who wins the West semifinal, but the entire Stampeder organization will be praying for B.C. on Saturday because they do not want to play the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Whether they admit it publicly or not, the Green Machine scares the living daylights out of the Stamps.
Most people will say the defending champion Riders had no business winning more than half of the 12 games they came out on top in. But the truth is, had certain events not unfolded in Riderville this season, they would most likely be enjoying the first-round bye.
After a storybook championship run last season, the Riders shipped out three major components — including league MVP Kerry Joseph — and were expected by the experts to be, well, awful.
Six games into the campaign, there they were, undefeated and looking fierce. Three of those wins even came after the worst bout of injuries I have ever seen, in any sport, began to hit the Riders like a shock- and-awe campaign.
What can only be described as an all-star team of starting players began to drop like flies. Flies with broken fibulas, that is.
You couldn’t cause as many broken legs to a team as the Riders suffered this year if you had a basket of voodoo dolls and a sledgehammer. If it wasn’t a bone snapped in half, it was a torn Achilles.
Back ups to player’s back ups were getting injured. To give you an idea of how silly it got, an astounding 18 different receivers caught passes for the Riders this year. Eventually the injuries caught up with the team and they struggled out a record of 3-6 over their next nine games.
Somewhere in that stretch, the mass of media and fan experts that exist out there seemed to ignore the injury problem as a viable cause to the losing skid. It makes little sense because there are several reasons to fear a healthy Green.
Never mind the club won no less than seven times through fourth quarter comebacks, some of which were by epic pro- portions. Never mind Wes Cates almost won the rushing title despite missing four games. And never mind the offence managed 130 points in their last three wins, even though the quarterbacking tandem combined for 10 interceptions in the same span.
Th e Saskatchewan Roughriders are worth the fear for one simple reason: When slot-back Andy Fantuz is in uniform this season, they are 9-0.
Of course this is all based on the theory the B.C. Lions fall to the green and white first. Th e Lions probably sealed their own fate by forgetting to go to their final game in Calgary, allowing the Stamps third-string quarterback to run all over them.
However, any team sporting Cameron Wake’s 23 sacks brings some terrifying characteristics of their own.