The hype that surrounds Labour Day actually started more than 25 years ago, when the financially desperate Roughriders had to do something to sell out at least one home game (and make payrolls) after playing to sparse crowds during July and August. So when the 1-7 Riders, aka Team Turmoil, met with the 7-1 Bombers, it was kind of like old times, with the Roughriders (at least their fans) going in with more of a grim mood, depressed about things and hoping for a miracle that would shut up the 500 or so Blue bomber fans who waddled into the stadium.
Well, they got their miracle. Or they got some indication that there may be some signs of life within the Rider locker room, that the season isn`t already toast. It`s only one game and the Roughriders have taken only the first steps in a long climb out of a hole – or a grave – dug for them by the previous coaching staff.
The Roughriders won this game because they had something they never had during Greg Marshall’s head coaching tenure: a game plan. They spotted Winnipeg’s weaknesses and then went to work on them. Oh yeah. They also abandoned the traditional passive to the point of absolute wimpy Richie Hall defense.
The game itself was by no means a classic, in the dictionary sense: for long periods it was boring and predictable. But after the Riders got to a 10-o lead late in the first quarter, you never got a feeling that the Bombers were in this game at all. It seemed as if they were waiting for the Riders to self-destruct, and when the Riders didn’t self-destruct, they had no clue what to do.
Nobody minds Darian Durant trying to be a drop-back passer instead of a roll-out quarterback when he has, you know, receivers who actually catch the freaking ball, and are in the right position at the right time. Such as Chris Getzlaf, who earlier this season looked to be on the roster as only for CanCon ration reasons. He caught two touchdown passes, and Weston Dressler caught another one, an incredible one-handed effort that pretty much cements his reputation as the best receiver on the current Rider squad, and probably the best since the early days of Don Narccise.
As for the Bombers: well, they looked pretty lost, un-composed, and pretty soon decomposed. The fourth quarter seemed to go on forever, thanks to a lot of very stupid objectionable conduct penalties that the Bombers took in the dying minutes of the game. Such undisciplined play is going to cost them big time in the future if head coach Paul LaPolice doesn’t get a handle on it. I doubt he can, if only because the Bombers’ new character is based on … acting like dicks.
A lot of Swaggerville merchandise is going to end up in the same African refugee camps where the NFL sends its ceremonial T-shirts it prints up for the team that loses the big game – such as those Buffalo Bills World Champion shirts. (funny, but in the age of the internet and mobile communications, you would think that some enterprising reporter would have found those shirts and photographed them by now. Just wondering.) I saw nothing from the Bombers that made them look like a 7-1 football team, and I think they are going to be in tough for the rest of the season.
As for the Riders … 2-7 is still a long ways away from playoff contention, let alone being taken seriously. And the next Rider player who says “The season starts on Labour Day” should forfeit his paycheques from July and August. But the season is a marathon, not a sprint, and even if the Riders spent the first part of that marathon with their shoelaces tied together and running down the wrong path, there’s still time for them to salvage this race.
And in other thoughts, the Roughrider cheerleaders were dressed in short tent skirt outfits that made them look like Eastern or Brannif Airlines stewardesses circa 1972. What purpose do cheerleaders serve? Especially for me. Even when I was in university I was more interested in MILFs.