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So I have to start this week’s article with a rant… because I am fucking pissed at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
As I’m sure many of you have heard by now, someone within the Ti-Cats organization deemed it prudent to hire disgraced former Baylor head coach Art Briles to work as an assistant for June Jones, who took over the reins when Kent Austin stepped down as head coach during the bye last week. Regardless of who it was that okayed the decision to hire Briles – and whether it was Jones, Austin (who is still holding his position as VP of football ops), CEO Scott Mitchell or owner Bob Young who came up with the original idea in the first place – it is absolutely indefensible on so many levels. During Briles’ time at Baylor, he and his coaching staff were responsible for covering up AT LEAST 52 sexual assaults by football players, including many instances of gang rape. The fact that Briles has been going on a quasi-media-redemption tour since his dismissal in May of 2016 has been bad enough – but not a single person with a shred of common sense should ever have wanted this man within a hundred miles of their team. Even if, for some twisted reason, you consider Briles a competent coach solely due to his on-field success with the Bears, the connected maelstrom of horrific abuses should immediately disqualify him from doing much else for the rest of his life other than maybe sweeping floors or chopping lumber.
The Ti-Cats and the CFL took some serious, serious heat this week for the hiring of Briles – and even with the fact that new CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie stepped in to veto this hire, it still makes the league’s new motto of “Diversity Is Strength” laughably hollow. Not only that, but the fact that the league has an official code of conduct that includes sections directly focused on preventing violence against women also means that this hire would’ve been in direct contradiction with all league-related bylaws. While it’s of course a good thing that Briles isn’t coming north, I refuse to give credit for the team doing the right thing and not hiring him — because it never should have even been a possibility in the first place.
“I think we got wrapped up a little bit too much in the inner sanctum of football discussions and forgot about very important things like our standing in the community and how this reflects upon the franchise,” said team CEO Scott Mitchell in a statement on Tuesday. Yeah, no shit, buddy.
To add to all this, a new report from TSN stated that Hamilton worked out Johnny Manziel last week in Buffalo, in order to see whether or not he’d be able to resume a pro football career north of the border. While the answer to their two days of scrutiny came out as “no”, in the end, the fact that they were even looking at Manziel – who has his own history of domestic violence – is appalling as well.
Call the CFL what you will – at its best, it can be exciting, unique, and exceedingly weird – but at its worst, if it’s associated with scumbags like Briles or Manziel, it’ll never, ever have a shot at being taken seriously by the rest of the world, and nor will it deserve to, quite frankly. I won’t blame Ti-Cats fans for a second if they decide to quit on this team, because even with Briles’ hire getting shitcanned and Manziel’s workout for naught, it’s still not directly dealing with the issue that somebody, somewhere feels that on-field results are the be-all and end-all to running a football team, and fuck all the rest of the stuff that has to go along with it – even if it’s not only criminal, but just so morally bankrupt that even the most cynical of us are jumping ship.
So yeah, fuck the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Everyone has the right to cheer for a team that promotes a respectful, inclusive environment for fans of all stripes, and if you can’t see how the hiring of Art Briles or consideration of signing Johnny Manziel goes completely against all of that, you probably ate paint chips as a kid and aren’t worth the air you breathe.
Anyways, let’s try and talk about some more positive stuff now to get away from this shitquake of awfulness. It’s Labour Day – the biggest week in the CFL regular season schedule!
WEEK 10 RECAPS
Winnipeg 34 vs. Montreal 31 (OT): The Alouettes lost another squeaker to the Blue Bombers, this time in overtime. Nik Lewis became the CFL’s all-time leader in receptions, passing BC Lions legend Geroy Simon, when he made his 1030th and 1031st catches of his career; he ended the night with 10 catches for 88 yards, leading the Als in receiving for this one as well. Winnipeg didn’t trail once in this game, though Montreal battled back on numerous occasions to make this a very tough contest for the Bombers – down by a field goal with nine seconds left, Boris Bede rang one off the post… and it dropped in for a good kick. In overtime, WR Clarence Denmark scored his second TD of the game on a pass from Matt Nichols, and Darvin Adams added a two-pointer as well; Montreal responded to this with a BJ Cunningham catch-and-run TD and a Brandon Rutley run for two to tie things back up. Unfortunately for Montreal, that was as close as things would get; DB Chris Randle picked off Darian Durant twice on the night, and this second one in overtime set up Justin Medlock to kick the winning field goal for the Blue Bombers.
Saskatchewan 54 vs. Edmonton 31: The Riders got their first road win of the year by absolutely demolishing the Eskimos this past week; the 31 points by Edmonton really doesn’t do the actual game justice, because they had their asses handed to them well and thoroughly. Mike Reilly had two pick-sixes on the night, which really hurt things for the Eskies, while their D also got shredded in the air and on the ground – Kevin Glenn had two touchdown throws, Brandon Bridge had another, and Vernon Adams, Jr., seeing his first action in green & white, had a rushing TD as well. All in all, it was an ugly game for Edmonton – the points only started arriving in garbage time, when Saskatchewan had already rang up 40 on them at the beginning of the 4th quarter. Mike Reilly had his worst game of the season, ending his night early to have James Franklin come in for relief duty, racking up just 160 yards passing, no TDs, and two pick-sixes. The Eskimos will need to forget about this one quickly, as they have a big tilt against Calgary coming up this long weekend.
BC 24 vs. Ottawa 31: It wouldn’t be a REDBLACKS game if they didn’t almost choke away a 4th-quarter lead once again – they lead the league in that category, with 4 blown leads (all ending in losses). Fortunately for Ottawa, they managed to hang on – new DB Jonathan Newsome, acquired from Saskatchewan after he was cut several week, saw his first action this week and made the interception on Travis Lulay with just over a minute remaining that managed to seal the deal for the home squad. RB Mossis Madu, filling in for William Powell, had a great game for the REDBLACKS – he recorded 82 all-purpose yards and 2 TDs, while WR Diontae Spencer saw the field a ton on offence and special-teams duties, racking up 226 all-purpose yards – including a 91-yard missed field goal return in place of an injured Quincy McDuffie. For the Lions, the QB controversy continues – starter Jonathon Jennings was yanked at halftime after going just 10-17 for 137 yards and a pick. Lulay provided a spark towards the end of the game, but once again, turnovers prove costly to BC. Underrated was the play of return man Chris Rainey – he returned four kicks for 128 yards in this one and provided excellent field position, particularly as BC was coming back into this game in the second half.
Toronto 7 vs. Calgary 23: Defense was the name of the game this time around; a strong Calgary pass-rush limited Ricky Ray and the Argos to just three first downs in the first half of this one, while a 115-yard Cassius Vaughn pick-six was the only play that put points on the board for Toronto in the entire game. After that initial end-zone interception by Bo Levi Mitchell in the first quarter, the Stamps adjusted accordingly, and it was all Calgary moving forwards. Even with WR DeVier Posey back in the lineup for the Argos after a long time off due to injury, the offence just couldn’t get any rhythm going at all. WR DaVaris Daniels was the player of the game for Calgary, racking up 114 yards and 2 TDs on 8 catches from Bo Levi Mitchell, who went 31-42 for 384 yards, 2 TD passes and a pick-six. Argos QB Ricky Ray ended his night with 220 yards on 22-34 passing, with no TDs and no turnovers either.
BYE: Hamilton (0-8)
WEEK 11 PREVIEWS
Ottawa (3-6-1) vs. Montreal (3-6), Thursday, August 31st, 7:30 PM EST: Only in the CFL would “The Labour Day Classic” be an entire week of games, and not just one. Ottawa leads this series of the Labour Day Classic 12-10, all-time. These two teams last met in Week 5, with Ottawa winning 24-18; a big defensive stop on third down and 1 late in the fourth quarter helped to seal the win for the REDBLACKS. While Montreal has a game in hand, Ottawa has definitely been a better team as of late, rattling off consecutive wins against Hamilton and BC. Montreal needs Darian Durant to be better – he needs to get some big plays going and not be afraid to stretch the field. Tyrell Sutton was hurt last game, so Brandon Rutley took over primary rushing duties for the Als; Sutton is expected back in the starter’s slot for this game, however. For the REDBLACKS, receiver Kenny Shaw has been ruled out for most likely the rest of the year, and so to bolster receiver depth, GM Marcel Desjardins went out and signed former Argonaut and Ti-Cat receiver Kevin Elliott, who played with Shaw and Diontae Spencer last year in Toronto. Elliott likely won’t be in the lineup this week as he gets acquainted with the offence, so expect Jake Harty and Dominique Rhymes to alternate reps in Shaw’s place during this game. Return specialist Quincy McDuffie is also not likely to play this week either for Ottawa.
Winnipeg (7-2) vs. Saskatchewan (4-4), Sunday, September 3rd, 4:00 PM EST: Saskatchewan leads this series of the Labour Day Classic 34-18, all-time. Winnipeg has the league’s best offense, with 308 points for in 9 games played, and Saskatchewan just rang up 54 on the Eskimos last week, so this is hopefully gonna be a hell of a game. Saskatchewan definitely needs to watch out for Andrew Harris, the August player of the month in the CFL, due to both his rushing and receiving abilities, while Winnipeg needs to keep their eyes on Duron Carter, who can burn defences both with speed and with Odell-Beckham-like hands. Saskatchewan’s 3-headed QB monster could also make another appearance this game, as Kevin Glenn, Brandon Bridge and Vernon Adams Jr. all had a touchdown in the Riders’ last game. No matter the outcome, I expect this one is going to be very, very entertaining – and with a rematch happening in Winnipeg the week after, we could see some stuff carry over!
Edmonton (7-2) vs. Calgary (7-1-1), Monday, September 4th, 3:00 PM EST: Edmonton leads this series of the Labour Day Classic 29-27-1, all-time. Edmonton has cooled down a fair bit after a hot start to the year thanks to injuries finally catching up to them, but a 7-2 first-half record is nothing to sniff at, tied with Winnipeg for second in the West Division. Mike Reilly has been very good in his career at rebounding after poor outings – and after getting picked off twice for defensive scores, there’s definitely a statement he needs to make here. The Big Red Machine keeps rolling, as it always does, and with Edmonton’s linebacker corps still hurting significantly, Jerome Messam can either crush them running up the gut or Bo Levi Mitchell can air it out to any number of big, physical receivers who thrive in the slot. This is the first of a yearly home-and-home series of these teams, so next week’s game could go either way as well – they might be two very high-scoring games, or they could be two defensive struggles! What’s it gonna be? We’ll have to see how both quarterbacks respond, most of all.
Toronto (4-6) vs. Hamilton (0-8), Monday, September 4th, 6:30 PM EST: Hamilton leads this series of the Labour Day Classic 32-15-1, all-time. These teams compete for the Harold Ballard Trophy as the champions of this annual matchup on Labour Day, which I find absolutely hilarious, because anyone who knows hockey knows that Harold Ballard, former owner of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and Hamilton Tiger-Cats, was one of the nastiest, most miserable bastards of all time. In all the brouhaha of the hiring of June Jones, the hiring (and then rapid firing) of Art Briles, and other such media talking points is that QB Zach Collaros is benched for this game; looking for a shake-up on offense, Jeremiah Masoli is getting the start instead. While Masoli has good legs and moves quickly when the pocket collapses around him, his decision-making skills are suspect, and the strong arm he possesses can be woefully inaccurate at times. Curious to say this, since he owns the CFL’s record for consecutive completions in a game, with 23 straight passes against the Edmonton Eskimos set last year… but it is, however, still true. All in all, it’s probably not gonna matter much. Even with two of Toronto’s best pass rushers still on the shelf, the O-line is porous for Hamilton, and Ricky Ray just got one of his biggest weapons last week in DeVier Posey, which means he and SJ Green can shred a woeful Tabby secondary.
BYE: BC (5-5)
STANDINGS AND STATS
East Division Standings
|Team||Games||Wins||Losses||Ties||Points For||Points Against|
West Division Standings
|Team||Games||Wins||Losses||Ties||Points For||Points Against|
- Haris, OTT – 3188
- Ray, TOR – 3018
- Reilly, EDM – 2845
- Harris, OTT – 19
- Nichols, WPG – 17
- Glenn, SSK – 16
- Messam, CGY – 621
- Harris, WPG – 570
- Johnson, BC – 518
- Ellingson, OTT – 944
- Green, TOR – 899
- Sinopoli, OTT – 728
- Butler, TOR – 7
- Hughes, CGY – 6
- Westerman, WPG – 6
- Gainey, BC – 4
- Heath, WPG – 4
- Randle, WPG – 3
- Medlock, WPG – 32
- Hajrullahu, TOR – 28
- Maher, OTT – 26
Remember to submit your picks here! http://www.pooltracker.com/join.asp?poolid=138425
|Rank||Total Points||Weekly Score||Win Percentage|
|Game Time Decision||27||2-2||65.85%|
|Joliet Jake Delhomme||21||2-2||51.22%|