Tuesday Morning QB (CFL Week 17)

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Canadian Football has been around longer than any other sport in the country with teams formed before 1900.

Yet the CFL is often seen as less than a secondary league in many parts of the country.

There is no place that this has been seen more than in the largest market for any sport in Canada, Toronto.

The Toronto Argonauts are the oldest team in all of North America to remain in the same city with the same name.

They were formed in 1873 and have never folded staying a franchise straight until today.

That doesn’t mean they haven’t had their struggles though as the Argos have been through more ownership groups than most franchises in professional sports.

Every year that an ownership group decides to sell is usually another one of panic for the fans and for the CFL, but more on that later.

There has been so much uncertainty in the largest market in the country and despite the sports culture improving in the city over the last few years the Argos are often an afterthought among the many professional sports in the city.

This year it has been expressed in a major way as the Argos began the season playing their “home opener” in Fort McMurray, Alberta removing one home game from the Rogers Centre before the game began.

Their first real home game didn’t happen until August 8th, which has been a theme over the last few years.

There are plenty of reasons for this as they haven’t had great turnout at the 50,000 seat stadium since the 1990s when the ownership group included Canadian comedian John Candy and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.

So when the league looks for someone to take a home game away as they planned the Northern Kickoff game it seemed obvious that it was Toronto.

Then there is the main tenant of the Rogers Centre in the Toronto Blue Jays who take weeks of playing time when they are in the city and prevent the Argos from scheduling a home game.

With the Jays being the main tenant they have the right to kick the Argos out of the stadium should they need the space.

This October a great run that has inspired the country has led to a bad situation for the Argos.

The Jays made the postseason and so when the Argos usually have the majority of their games, this year they had five game scheduled from October 6th until November 4th, the oldest team in Toronto had to find a new place to play.football-sidebar

It started with their October 17th game being moved to Ottawa due to the potential of the Blue Jays playing the MLB wild Card game, the Jays never played that game.

Then this past week the Argos were once again moved out of the Rogers Centre for the potential of the Jays hosting the second game of the ALCS, again the Jays did not play that game.

The Argos have also moved their October 27th and October 30th games despite the fact that the Jays won’t play on the 27th or the 30th even if they make the World Series.

The Argos will play in Hamilton like they did this week and will only have their November 6th game at home.

It will be only their fourth game at home this year and could be their last home game depending on how they finish in the standings.

The league’s oldest and most important team will play four games in Toronto all year which is more than just unfortunate for the team.

The CFL needs the Argos, even if some don’t want to admit it, as Toronto is the biggest market, by far, in Canada and without that market the league will suffer, even if the league survives.

It is an embarrassment for a professional sports league that one of the most legendary teams can’t play at home and it is far from the best way to grow the sport in a city that is falling in love with sports all over again.

There is hope though as the Argos finally have a stable ownership group with Bell Media and Larry Tanenbaum, two of the three owners of MLSE who own the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, and Toronto FC, buying the team this year.

The new owners will take control in January 2016 and will move the Argos to BMO Field, the home of Toronto FC, where scheduling should be far easier as they own the team who is the main tenant and that team only plays once or twice a week.

Relief is coming for the Argos as they have to get through a tough year with limited home games before the move into a newer building that will be even more modern after a set of improvements scheduled for the winter and spring.

One of the oldest teams in North American sports is hoping that this is as low as they will fall and that only good things are ahead as they look to the light at the end of a very long tunnel.

Fourth Down:
(Thoughts on Week 17 in the CFL)

Taking the Tour
Kevin Glenn is known as the ultimate back-up in the CFL and has been through most CFL cities that now includes Montreal who traded for him to try to lead them to the playoffs this year as they still pursue the crossover spot

Two-Headed Monster
The trade deadline was far more exciting than it has been in the past as not only did Glenn move teams but Jerome Messam was traded to the Calgary Stampeders who now have two of the best running backs in the game for their Grey Cup run

One Last Milestone
John Hufnagel has already announced that he will retire at the end of the year and move on to be a full-time GM leaving the coaching to Dave Dickinson but he will continue to add to his legacy including this week when he earned his 100th win as a head coach

standings-w17.fw

Week 17 Scores:
Ottawa REDBLACKS 27 – 24 Winnipeg Blue Bombers
– The REDBLACKS have completed the first part of their amazing comeback year after only winning two games in 2014 as they beat the Blue Bombers to clinch the franchises’ first playoff appearance in their second year

Calgary Stampeders 27 – 15 Toronto Argonauts
– The Toronto Argonauts had to once again go on the road for a game this time in a place where they haven’t been too successful at Tim Hortons Field and that continued as the Stamps travelled east and beat the Argos to stay on top in the West

Edmonton Eskimos 26 – 23 BC Lions
– The Eskimos are already in the playoffs but were trying to keep up with the Stamps while the Lions were just trying to get closer to preventing the crossover but they couldn’t do it as the Eskimos got the win and remained in a tie for first place

Hamilton Tiger-Cats 23 – 11 Montreal Alouettes
– The Alouettes had a big chance to move closer to the crossover and looked to new QB Kevin Glenn to help them but the offence looked disjointed in Glenn’s first start as the Als fell to the Ti-Cats who remained in first place in the east

Week 18 Matchups:
Montreal Alouettes vs. Toronto Argonauts (Friday October 23rd; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Argos will attempt to break the Tim Hortons curse as they once again play a home game at Tim Hortons Field as they try to win their first game in the stadium while trying to keep up with the Ti-Cats for first place

Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs. BC Lions (Friday October 23rd; 10:00 pm ET)
– The Lions are trying to clinch the last western playoff spot and prevent the crossover which might be easier depending on how the first game goes but they will have to take on a Hamilton team that has found their groove once again after adjusting to a new QB

Ottawa REDBLACKS vs. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Saturday October 24th; 4:00 pm ET)
– The REDBLACKS are in but they have some work to do if they want to give their fans a game to see in the playoffs as they take on the Blue Bombers for the second straight week as Henry Burris leads Ottawa into a stadium they hope to be in come November 29th

Edmonton Eskimos vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders (Saturday October 24th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Eskimos have a chance to move ahead of their provincial rivals at least for this week as they take on the Roughriders who have clearly given up on the season while the Stampeders take the week off

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