At some point last week I decided that I was going to grow a playoff beard. That’s why the Saskatchewan Roughriders are in the Grey Cup this Sunday for the third time in four years! Or maybe it’s because our ‘team’ beat a bunch of egotistical, end zone dance choreographing, chest pounding, trash talking individuals in their own stadium. I fucking hate the Calgary Stampeders.
They went 13 – 5 this season, while we only went 10 – 8. They beat us two out of three times and finished first overall in the regular season. In the media they talked about destiny, and how this was their year. They put 8 players on the CFL all-star team. The game against Saskatchewan was merely a formality. When they lost, they blamed the refs, and one even accused the league of fixing the game.
It feels different this time. Not as dramatic. More workmanlike. Water is wet, sky is blue, and the Riders are going to the Cup again. We beat ‘em last year in the finals, and we did it again this year, AND we did it while playing the game on their turf in -30 C weather.
At one point in the third quarter, our offence stood on the field for five minutes, bare arms, ice forming on their face masks, and facing a cold prairie wind while awaiting the review of a play that was challenged. Calgary’s defence retreated to the sidelines, stood by the heaters and put on jackets. The call went our way, and we took 6:20 off the clock, marching the ball into the wind to score the game winning touchdown.
Saskatchewan 20 – Calgary 16
It’s been a pretty special year. 2010 is the Roughrider’s 100th anniversary. We are a community owned team – there is no private owner. We are Canada’s team. There are two 20 story tall Roughrider logos covering the sides of Regina’s twin towers. The team has played in seven of TSN’s top ten highest rated CFL telecasts. We outdraw the NHL, NFL, and Monday Night Football on Canadian television. We sell more merchandise than all the other teams combined. It wasn’t that long ago that Saskatchewan was the hind tit of the CFL, and of Canada. Look at us now!
Having said that, 2010 has not been easy on the team. We’ve been horribly inconsistent. Lost games we should have won. Rode a four game losing streak into the final game of the regular season. People were calling for players to be cut and coaches to be fired. The team, and the faithful endured.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders don’t talk about individual accomplishments. They respect their opposition. They respect the game. They represent our community. Hell, on a team that draws its 46 players from all over North America, 8 are from Saskatchewan, and 25 now live year round in Regina.
And now we’re going to the Grey Cup in a rematch of last year’s game, a game we lost in heartbreaking fashion to the Montreal Alouettes. It’s time to finish what we started.