Saturday, March 30, 2019

Touchdown Atlantic returns. (CFL)

2019 will mark the return of the Canadian Football League's 'Touchdown Atlantic' promotional game, last held in 2013, in a contest between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Montreal Alouettes, in which the 'Cats won. I've seen every Touchdown Atlantic game on TV, and I still say that there is a rather large appetite for professional football on the East Coast, as evidenced by the packed stadium for each and every game.

Ever since the Atlantic Schooners became a real possibility once again, it looks as if it was only natural to finally stage a game in the Maritimes after such a lengthy absence. There are a lot of football schools out that way (Acadia, St.F/X, just to name a couple), and I have maintained that the CFL would truly be a coast-to-coast league with the addition of a Halifax-based team. In a league like the CFL that has an odd number of teams, this would make sense for several reasons:

Even divisions. Five teams on either side would be more than logical. It would even out the schedule, and eliminate the current bye-week system (of three byes per team) that is currently in use.

Crossover. I would image that when the league evens out to those ten teams, the crossover rule would be revoked completely, as it would be redundant at that point. (I'm not saying I don't like the crossover, because I do. It just wouldn't work in a ten team league)

Fresh match-ups. Like when the RedBlacks brought Ottawa back into the fold, we had fresh match-ups and new rivalries formed along the way. One can only imagine what kind of rivalries and story lines an East Coast team would bring to the table.

Oh Canada! As much as the CFL is Canada's game and has that Great White North feel, it would be so much more enhanced with that tenth Maritime team. It would just be so much awesome right off the bat, and just really needs to happen!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Marcus Mariota/Henry Burris. (NFL/CFL)

As someone who has followed Marcus Mariota since his college days at Oregon, I was intrigued by what the owner of the Tennessee Titans had so say as of late about her star quarterback:

"Marcus, I want him to be successful," said Amy Strunk. "I want him to be our franchise quarterback. It was a tough year from an injury standpoint last year, and I know that Marcus is raring to go and prove he can be that guy." This is an interesting quote, as I personally believe that Mariota has already proven he's 'that guy' for the Titans. That being said, he has been quite injury prone in his short pro career up to this point, and the team's offence as a whole hasn't been the greatest.

Can Mariota have a bounce back season this year and put up some solid numbers? Here's hoping he does, as he's an exciting player that can make plays out of nothing. If the Titan's O-line can keep him upright, the sky is the limit.

Burris, whatcha talking about? I've never been one to really disagree with Henry Burris, as the man is a legend in the CFL, and always has some of the most interesting insight on the game and all that it entails. This time however, I stand on the opposite side of something he has said. Burris believes that the NFL changing their video replay rules to include all facets of pass interference will slow down and ruin the game.

Yes, there has been an occasional game in the CFL (where this review system has already been used successfully) where said review has taken a chunk of time for no reason, but on a whole, it works. Factor in the disaster in New Orleans this past NFL season (yeah, I know.....beating a dead horse now), and there is an instant reason to institute this, and prevent teams from getting ripped off because of incompetent officials on the field.

Sorry Henry, but the NFL needs this. Either that, or we keep seeing the Patriots win Super Bowls. *shudders*

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

AAF could fold, Raiders on hold. (AAF/NFL/CFL)

Just when you thought the football world couldn't get anymore convoluted, we get two fresh headlines that have sent every football journalist and blogger going quite mad. I've been sitting here, just minding my own business, when I saw these stories break just a few short minutes ago. It's  shaping up to be a busy news week in football, and that's a good thing.

Raiders not playing a game in Saskatchewan. As everyone already knows, the Oakland Raiders had secured a one-year lease for this season in Oakland, but are having to shop around their exhibition and pre-season games to alternative markets. One such market that was, until today, being aggressively pursued was Mosaic Field, the home of the Roughriders. Unfortunately, it's been reported that the Roughies weren't given enough time to change the stadium back over to the regulation Canadian sized field for a CFL game the very next day.

Personally, I don't understand why it was going to be Mosaic in the first place. There are much bigger stadiums in this country (SkyDome, Commonwealth, the Big O) that can handle larger crowds, and are located in much bigger metropolitan areas with proper transit hubs and amenities. Mosaic looks like a nice stadium, but after all, it's still in Saskatchewan regardless.

Bye bye AAF? In a more stunning release, the chief financier of the AAF, Tom Dundon (owner of the NHL's Hurricanes) has said that, "If the NFL players union is not going to give us young players, we can't be a development league. We are looking at our options, which include discontinuing the league."

I find this news very perplexing. I have found the AAF to be a very exciting and action-packed game. Players are trying to prove to just about anyone watching that they are NFL (or CFL) calibre players, and by doing so have raised the bar quite high. There have been big plays, big touchdowns, and not to mention - big hits! It would be sad to see the AAF go the way of the Dodo so early in it's short life. I firmly believe this league can go places, and hope to see it do so.

The AAF's decision will come in the next few days, according to Dundon. We might just have to hold our collective breaths for this one.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The CFL's 'bubble wrap' solution. (CFL)

I've been watching CFL football since I was a kid (going on twenty-nine years now), and one of the many facets of the game that has always kept me glued to the TV during games is the hard-hitting action. Whether it's quarterbacks getting smoked, wide receivers getting crushed in and out of bounds, or a kick returner getting wiped out, it's always must-see TV. A large part of what makes the CFL great is the fast-paced hard-hitting action that never seems to disappoint.

This now could all be in extreme jeopardy of being taken out of the game by a Commissioner that is already taking the league in the wrong direction. Now, at his urging, it could get decidedly worse this coming season. Look, we all know football isn't the safest sport out there, and the possibility of injury exists in every game. That being said, the men that suit up every week for their teams know this, and have accepted this as how football is played. I also agree that hits to the head need to be addressed, but not at the expense of ruining the game.

When you're team is playing on defence, chances are as a fan, you're screaming for them to rush the quarterback and take his head off, or at least break up a pass and/or record a sack. No one wants to see their team give up a massive throwing play that could lead to big yardage gains or even a touchdown. That being said, you also probably don't want to see your defence pull up lame, afraid to go anywhere near the quarterback, and let him throw wherever he wants. The last thing I need to see is my team's defence ignore the quarterback out of fear and let him do his job.

This isn't the NFL. We don't need to change rules and make it tougher on defensive players because of prima donna quarterbacks (hello Tom Brady!) that don't want to get hit. People are also name-dropping Zach Collaros because of all the cranial hits he has taken as well. This is the same QB that also suffered a concussion in pre-season, and hid it from everyone due to his own ego. Collaros shouldn't be used as the yardstick in this case. The CFL shouldn't let one man's issues decide a new outcome for the whole league.

Head hits need to be curtailed, but not at the expense of the league, it's game play, and the fans' experience of the game that they hold dear. The sad thing is, Ambrosie doesn't listen to anyone but himself, and we the fans are going to suffer most.

Monday, March 25, 2019

On-side kick a thing of the past? (NFL)

I don't get this whole concept of getting rid of the on-side kick in the fourth quarter and replacing it with something else. Whether or not the kick is a legit on-side kick, or a squib that bounces all over the place, why replace it because one team has a silly idea?

I am of course talking about the NFL competition committee's idea to accept the proposal put forward by the Denver Broncos, in which the on-side kick in the fourth quarter of a game would be replaced by a 4th and 15 situation from the team's 35 yard line. While it may be more interesting to give star quarterbacks a shot at a potential game-winning throw deep in the final quarter of play (yes, I do find it somewhat intriguing), it can also lead to other problems down the line.

The potential for injuries increases, with the other team's defence wanting to load up for a bull rush, or be quick off the corner to block and/or sack the quarterback before he can make said throw down the field. Also, receivers will look to run full tilt to evade cover (especially if the opposing defence is playing man coverage, or the standard nickel) and end up stretching out and landing on something they don't want to land on. It can almost be assured that the quarterback is going to go for the long bomb or end zone play. No one is going to waste this 4th and 15 on a short pass that could potentially be dropped, picked off, or stymied completely.

While I agree that the NFL needs to make a couple tweaks to the rules to enhance the game a little, this is not one of the tweaks we need. The on-side kick has a mythology of it's own, and can easily end up being a game-changing moment in itself. I believe in earnest that this should be left alone for the time being. Potential pass interference and challenging of said call should be the top priority of the NFL right now, so as to avoid another problem like we saw in the NFC Championship game. Compared to that mess, the on-side kick is nowhere near as imperative.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The NFL could learn from the CFL. (NFL/CFL)

All it took for the NFL to finally realize it had a major problem, was for the New Orleans Saints to get screwed out of the NFC Championship by referees that missed an obvious (and completely blatant) pass interference call against the LA Rams. As we all know by now, the Rams went on to win the game and advance to the Super Bowl. There is no doubt in my mind that if the Saints had won, they surely would have won the Super Bowl easily.

In the CFL, a coach is allowed to challenge for pass interference if he feels that there was a missed call. In a lot of circumstances, the call was missed, and the coach was successful in his challenge, getting the call on the field overturned. I personally saw several instances last season alone where this happened, negating what would have been a blown call by the officials. People who only have a passing familiarity with the CFL often criticize it for it's rules and regulations, but even sportscasters and sports writers in the United States have often praised it for this particular set of rules.

Unfortunately with the NFL (also known as the No Fun League), they are hesitant to change things that are huge issues, usually giving the finger to the fans. Commissioner Roger Goodell's attitude and lack of transparency on said NFC Championship game snafu (or lack of even getting around to mention anything about it) speaks volumes on what the NFL thinks about anything aside from the billions of dollars it pulls in from fans and sponsors alike. Imagine if the CFL had that kind of attitude? It would fold very quickly, as sports fans (especially in Canada) are a fickle bunch.

While it's interesting to hear that the NFL is looking into fixing this whole mess with better rules and coaches being able to challenge non-calls, I'll believe it when I see it. No one should be holding their breath on this one, so as long as the money keeps rolling into the NFL's coffers.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

2019 could be an epic disaster. (CFL)

The Canadian Football League is wandering into uncertain territory as of late, with both the CFL and CFLPA heading towards an impasse in their negotiations. Both sides are starting to get hung up on commissioner Randy Ambrosie's idea of lowering the Canadian player ratio down to five spots per team, down from the current seven. This is going to become a major problem for both sides to get past, and no good will come out of it.

To have a commissioner who is Canadian, has played in the CFL for nine seasons and won a Grey Cup, this move makes little sense. Ambrosie also served on the board for the CFLPA during the 1990's, so his position right now is more than quite perplexing. This is a man who has been in the Canadian football system since his university days, and yet might just be the one that brings everything crashing down this spring before the season gets started.

Part of the problem is Ambrosie's ideas on how to expand the influence of the CFL outside of Canada. Making deals with other football leagues is fine, but when it affects Canadian players and pushes them out of roster positions here at home, it becomes a significant problem. Ambrosie is stuck on political correctness and silly projects. The whole 'Diversity Is Strength' nonsense (which is a colossal failure and has has alienated some fans), not to mention his idea of playing a game in Mexico (taking away much needed home game revenue away from a CFL team), are just two examples of backwards thinking.

If anything, Ambrosie needs to enhance Canadian player development, and to bolster the partnerships with the CIS and all university associations. If we can't properly develop football players here at home, how long can the CFL stay relevant? If we can't find new ways to get young people involved (and do so without politics), how can we keep filling the stadiums? Growing the game outside of Canada is fine, but not at it's expense. Ambrosie needs to put the league ahead of his own personal agenda, or step aside. The slope he's taking the league down right now is a slippery one, and no good, if any, can come of all this.

Get ready for a lockout, sports fans.

More interesting free agent signings. (NFL)

We're just over a month away from this year's NFL draft, and teams have been quick to sign free agent players and make deals in an attempt to bolster their rosters and prepare for the 2019 campaign. In the last couple of days, there have been several more interesting signings, with some players who have been a staple of one team moving onto greener pastures, so to speak.

Matthews to the Rams. Long-time Green Bay Packer Clay Matthews, a staple on defence, has signed with the Los Angeles Rams. Matthews has been one of the premier defensive players for some time now, a terror for quarterbacks and running backs alike. The Rams already have a solid defence to begin with, and this could tip the scales in their favour. What remains to be seen is if the Rams also re-sign Ndamukong Suh to a short-term deal or not.

FitzMagic. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has signed with the Miami Dolphins for two years, and is a definite upgrade over Ryan Tannehill (who, in my opinion, has always been below average). The thing with this is that Fitzpatrick is not as consistent down the stretch. Yes, he'll have a lot of games where he puts up some solid numbers (especially against the woeful Bills and Jets), but he'll also have games where he becomes an interception machine, and games where he'll look completely out of place. I think this is another prime example of the Dolphins continually looking at the short-term picture rather than something long-term.

Burfict to the Raiders. Vontaze Burfict, the human penalty flag, has moved on from the Cincinnati Bengals, and signed with the Oakland Raiders. I don't see this as a good thing or a bad thing. Burfict will keep incurring stupid penalties, coaches will get angry, people will keep screaming at their TV because of him, and life will go on. Is he a good player? Mostly. Does he actually serve a purpose? Not really. If you look up the definition of  'personal foul', his picture is right next to it.

Bortles. What?! Someone ACTUALLY signed Blake Bortles? And it was the Rams?!?! That's it. I can't live in a world where someone finds Blake Bortles useful.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Suh is still free, Orlando finally loses. (NFL/AAF)

Aside from the bigger story I covered in yesterday's post, there have been a few other interesting things in football this weekend that I find interesting. For some reason, there seems to be more story lines and news in the off-season of most leagues than during the actual season. Perhaps the football Gods know that we need something to talk about at this time of year, and make sure this is all set up beforehand to keep our thirst for football alive and well. Seems legit....

Suh is still on the market. Ndamukong Suh, who played last season with the LA Rams, is still capable of making the big plays on defence, and would be a great addition to any team that needs help at nose tackle. Yeah, he's had his anger management issues over the years, but he's a hell of a player. At age 32, he's only got a few good seasons left, so it would be wise for a team in need to get the ball rolling and offer him a contract. I can't see him not going to a playoff contender, and it's also likely he would re-sign with the Rams, given the right deal with the right money.

Orlando actually LOSES! The Orlando Apollos have looked almost invincible this season, seemingly going past every opponent at will. Enter the Atlanta Hotshots, who have looked good in some games this year (including a couple exciting games I was able to catch), and also looked as bad as they possibly could as well. I personally thought that the Apollos would end the season unbeaten, but it seems they are human after all.  Still, to go 5-0 right off the bat is impressive in any league. The question now is will this loss affect their psyche, or will they reload, and respond?

Cleveland rocks? Yes, the Browns have made some interesting deals and signings in the last little while, the biggest of which was acquiring Odell Beckham Jr. from the New York Giants. Yes, they have a young stud at quarterback in Baker Mayfield. Will Cleveland win their division in the upcoming season? More than likely. Will they make the playoffs? More than likely. Will they get to the Super Bowl? No. A lot of sports pundits are already sipping the Cleveland kool-aid, telling anyone that will listen that the Browns are 'serious Super Bowl contenders.' I'm not buying that, and neither should anyone else.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Manziel rides (yet) again. (AAF/CFL)

I've been on record saying that Johnny Manziel would never turn up in the AAF due to either the lower salary he would earn, or a team there wouldn't want to take him on due to his off-field issues, which recently led to him being turfed by the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL. Well, don't I look stupid right now, as Manziel has just signed with the Memphis Express of the AAF.

I honestly don't understand what the AAF sees in this man, as he's run afoul of the two major professional leagues on this continent already. Look, I get that attendance in the AAF isn't where they want it to be as of yet, but from a football standpoint, this union doesn't make a lot of sense. Sooner or later, Manziel is going to do something off the field, or violate some kind of league protocol that will end up getting him suspended (or banned), and he'll be back where he started for the millionth time. I mean, what's going to happen then? Is he going to end up in the (ugh!) Arena League?

Manziel didn't have as much pressure on him in the CFL that he did when he played in the NFL. Had he really tried to learn the Canadian game, improve himself, and stay out of trouble, he probably would still be in the league preparing for his second full season. Hell, it would have been conceivable that he could help take a team into the playoffs, and possibly to a Grey Cup in time. But, as we all saw, Johnny Manziel was simply being Johnny Manziel, and his time up here in the Great White North came to an abrupt end.

Half the AAF season is already over, and Memphis has been going nowhere, and fast. I don't see him making much of a difference on a team with swiss cheese for defence, and a pathetic offence to boot. He'll bomb out of the AAF just like he did in the NFL and CFL. doesn't help that he'll be playing for coach Mike Singletary, a defence-minded coach that doesn't take any crap from anyone, ever. This could end up being really interesting, for the wrong reasons.

Bye bye, Johnny.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Some of the more interesting free agent signings. (NFL)

We've all seen a lot of the big names already come and go in the last several days, but there are some signings that haven't received as much publicity as they maybe should have. Some of the following signings are surprising given either the player, or the destination thereof.

Cole Beasley. This one is a head-scratcher right off the bat, and for obvious reasons. Who in the hell actually wants to play for a terrible Buffalo Bills team, especially a player that had been a vital part of a playoff-bound Dallas Cowboys team? Beasley was one player that I never would have thought would switch teams anytime in the near future. The Bills are a quagmire of epic proportions right now (as they have been for some time), and might not use Beasley properly.

Danny Amendola. Speaking of a nasty mess, enter the Detroit Lions. This is a team who still believes (very much in vain) that Matthew Stafford is some kind of stud. The move on Amendola's part to go to Detroit only makes sense if all he wants is money. There is little to no competitiveness in Detroit, and as long as they have Stafford, they no nowhere. Period.

Tyrod Taylor. The Chargers have one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now in Phillip Rivers, who played his best football ever last season. I understand the need to have a younger QB on the roster ready to take over if and when Rivers decides to call it a career, but Taylor? There is no consistency in his game, his decision making process is horrible, and he has more bad games than good games. And judging by the amount of money they will pay him ($11-million over two years, plus incentives), they see something that isn't really there. Tyrod Taylor is worse than a one-trick pony, and isn't the answer.

Frank Gore. His career winding down, I expected Frank Gore to stay in sunny Florida with the Dolphins and ride off into the sunset. Signing a one-year deal with the Buffalo Bills is somewhat confusing, given his age. Gore is one of my all-time favourite running backs, and I wish him nothing but the best. That being said, I still question his move to Buffalo. He will more than likely be a back-up RB for short-yardage situations at this point.

What do YOU think about these signings? Leave a comment with your opinion if you'd like!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Alouettes are for sale, but it might not help. (CFL)

Details have been starting to emerge that would suggest the ownership of the Montreal Alouettes
are looking to sell the team in the next little while. The Alouettes have finished out of the
playoffs for the last four seasons, and have been a mess in every way possible. From low
attendance due to on-field product, and questionable decisions by the front office (Hello
Johnny Manziel signing!), this team needs a considerable face lift, and I don't mean a new
logo or uniforms.

Ever since Marc Trestman was let go by the Als (a most ridiculous decision), they've had little
to no consistency at the head coaching position, aside from Mike Sherman. They never gave
Jacques Chapdelaine (an excellent coach in my opinion) the tools to succeed, and then got rid
of him. Tom Higgins wasn't very good, and Dan Hawkins was a disaster (An American college coach
who had no idea what Canada was, let alone how to coach a CFL team) and didn't last long either.
This is a team that lacks direction, a decent quarterback, and anything that looks like what
a proper football team should look like.

Manziel. When it was first announced that Manziel was leaving Hamilton for Montreal, I almost
perfectly predicted what would happen to him. I has said that Manziel wouldn't last more than
one season with the Als, and his personality and problems would eventually wear thin and cause
some sort of issues (locker room or other) that would lead to his release. Instead of taking
a season to develop some younger QB's on their roster (Pipkin, for one), they opted for a quick
fix and some ticket sales, hoping to put some butts in the seats. This plan backfired, with
Manziel never really settling in to the Canadian swing of things, and playing horribly in all
of his appearances (save maybe one game where he made a couple nice plays).

When Montreal had Anthony Calvillo under centre, they maintained their integrity, keeping the
team together, and making small improvements here and there to stay competitive. When Calvillo
left, this all went down the toilet, with the Als making bad moves and band-aids on the team
that led to their current situation. New ownership may help right the ship, or might be the
catalyst that finishes the sinking altogether.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

OBJ to the Browns, and more! (NFL)

Imagine my shock at finding out that Odell Beckham Jr. has been dealt to the Browns. After a long, hard day at work, this is the first thing that greets me upon checking the sports feeds. About a week ago, the guys on PTI (Pardon The Interruption) had said that if the NY Giants didn't hold onto OBJ, they would be stupid. Guess what? The Giants' brain trust are officially stupid as of now. You get rid of one of the most talented and arguably best receiver in the NFL for a couple of picks and a safety. This was the second worst move I've seen in the last couple of days.

Suggs to the Cardinals. Okay, this was the worst move. Suggs goes from his longtime team, the Baltimore Ravens, who at least have a good chance at making the playoffs, to the Arizona Cardinals, who will more than likely again finish at the bottom of the NFC West. Said team is a mess, and that's putting it lightly. Suggs must only care about the money at this point in his career, hoping to cash in for the next couple of seasons before he retires. I can't in any way see the Cardinals being competitive for the immediate future.

Foles strikes it rich. Speaking of money, did anyone see the deal that Nick Foles is getting with the Jacksonville Jaguars? Four year contract that is worth $88-million dollars. Signing Foles gives the Jags some instant credibility, but they also need to get him a couple more targets, and a stronger O-line. Foles can put up some good numbers there if everything falls into place. Are the Jags a Super Bowl contender now? I don't think so, not just yet. But....they seem to finally be going in the right direction. All they need to do now is be a smarter football team then they have been.

What a crazy day.

CFL/CFLPA Negotiating, and what could happen. (CFL)

Negotiations between the Canadian Football League and the CFL Player's Association began yesterday, with the two sides having until mid-May to come to an agreement. CFL Training camps start on May 15th, so it is imperative that a deal gets done before it interferes with the upcoming season. While there hasn't been a work stoppage in the CFL since 1974, this latest negotiation could run into some issues.

Ambrosie. Still a pretty green commissioner, Randy Ambrosie is a former player who should know the plight of the players better than anyone. Unfortunately, he's being saying and doing things that most of his predecessors wouldn't have, and seems more content to ram through his new agendas more than anything. Ambrosie has a chance to become more of a player-focused commissioner than anyone before him, but I'm not sure he wants to.

International aspirations. Past commissioners (Orridge, Cohon) preferred to grow the league at home (here in Canada) and try to build on the success therein. Cohon was extremely successful in this regard, initiating 'This Is Our League", and helping to revive talk in a Halifax franchise. Numbers and ticket sales surged, and the league did better as a whole. Ambrosie seems to want to take the CFL in an international direction, making deals with foreign football leagues, and wanting to let players from said leagues transfer seamlessly to the CFL. This worries me, as this may force out more and more home-grown Canadian players in favour of internationals. This alone could cause the CFLPA to grow weary and start making demands.

Out of market. In addition to international players, Ambrosie wants to have a game or two played in Mexico. The problem with this idea is simple: This is NOT the National Football League. NFL teams rake in hundreds of millions of dollars (some in the billions), and can afford to lose a home game. CFL teams in contrast, make maybe a million dollars (or less) a season, and need the revenue from a home game to survive. Trying to gain a fanbase while making another suffer is not the way to conduct league business. Ambrosie should know better.

I have high hopes that a deal will get done before training camps open, but I'm not holding my breath. This is going to get interesting far too quickly, and for the wrong reasons.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The case for Ricky Ray. (CFL)

There has been a lot of talk in the last few weeks about the future of quarterback Ricky Ray in the Canadian Football League. There are many that say he should come back and play at least one more season, if not two. There are those who think he should retire as a player, and take up a coaching career in the league (possibly with the Argonauts, who he still is under contract for). I like Ricky Ray, I always have. He's a hell of a competitor. That being said, I'd like to make some key points on what may or may not happen with him.

Playing career. I honestly don't think that anyone calling for him to keep playing remembers the hit he took last year, in which he lay immobile on the field for some time, suffering a serious neck injury that took him out of action for the rest of the season. This is not something that you just brush aside, nor do you take lightly. Ricky Ray is getting old, and can't take those kind of hits. He just can't.

No dues to pay. Ricky Ray won four Grey Cups in his illustrious career, and he doesn't have anything left to prove out on the field. He can honestly say that he's seen and done it all as a star pivot, and should retire to preserve his future, and what he might want to do with himself. Personally, I'd love to see him as a coach in the CFL, and in the next blurb, I'll tell you why.

Coaching. I believe that Ricky Ray would make an excellent quarterbacks coach, and/or offensive coordinator. He was always willing, as a player, to take risks and go big or go home. Many a time he aired it out and left caution to the wind to get that big gain or touchdown. He'd be perfect in a coaching capacity, and add depth and flair to any team he would work for. I think this is only the logical evolution of Ricky Ray, and hope to see this become a reality.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Thoughts on the Antonio Brown trade. (NFL)

As I'm sure you all know by now, Antonio Brown was traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Oakland Raiders overnight, in exchange for some draft picks. It was expected he would be traded, but to the Raiders of all teams? The following points concern Brown and the Raiders, and my thoughts on everything thus far.

1) Wrong side of the Bay? Antonio Brown had been courted heavily by the San Francisco 49ers, and had even publicly said that he wanted to play there. The legend himself, Jerry Rice, even came in to bring Brown to the 49ers, and it seemed like it would become a reality. How the 49ers let this slip through their fingers and pave the way for Brown to go across the Bay is beyond me at this time.

2) Gruden. Raiders head coach Jon Gruden thinks Brown is better than even the above mentioned Jerry Rice, and was quoted as saying this this morning on the NFL Network. This further proves my theory that the Raiders (and their coaches/front office) are living in a parallel universe. Sure, they get a huge target in Brown, but the issue is that Derek Carr is still their starting QB, and we've all seen him play. Oakland has a terrible O-line, and their defence is beyond brutal. Having Brown is useless if Carr has little to no protection, which in turn gives him no time to throw the ball.

3) Playoffs. As much as it pains me to say this (I hate the Steelers!), Brown left a team that can make the playoffs for a team that couldn't win an ass-kicking contest against a one-legged man. This would suggest that Brown is more about the money than anything else. There's no other way to explain why he'd leave a better team for a worse one, and get the honour of looking in from the outside when the playoffs roll around.

I honestly get the feeling that this trade was driven more by his agent, than himself. Just watching the interview with Brown's agent today gave me pointers in this direction.


Saturday, March 9, 2019

Throwing The Slant's top QB's of all-time! (CFL/NFL)

In what I hope to be the first of many football lists, this post is all about the top quarterbacks of all-time, over both professional leagues on this continent. Some may agree with this list, some may not. Personally, if you have a different view, feel free to comment on this. But let it be known, I will explain briefly after every player why he is where he is. Capiche?

10) Bart Starr/*Tom Brady. Bart Starr won five league championships (three of them Super Bowls) with the Packers in a career that spanned three decades. Brady, who has six, earns the asterisk here as conditional. I cannot in good faith give a full ranking to a player that has been caught several times for blatant cheating, and been suspended for such acts. The asterisk is more than justified.

9) Ken Ploen. The long-time pivot for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the late 50's and most of the 60's won four Grey Cups. He epitomized toughness, courage, and drive to win anything and everything. Ken Ploen was a player that became a hero and a legend.

8) Steve Young. Even though he only won a single Super Bowl, Steve Young became the benchmark for mobile quarterbacks that could scramble out of the pocket and make plays. I have included him not just because of this, but how great he really could have been had his career not been cut short due to injury.

7) Damon Allen/Ricky Ray. Both were elite QB's in the CFL with long careers. Both won four Grey Cups. Allen held the all-time passing yards crown upon retirement, while Ray was the model of consistency. Both had careers that others could only dream of.

6) Johnny Unitas/Peyton Manning. These two are tied on this list, because they seem to go hand in hand for some reason. Unitas was a visionary, and changed the way the NFL offence worked, winning two titles and a Super Bowl. Manning was one of the smartest QB's to play the game, winning two Super Bowls, and cementing his status as an elite QB.

5) Doug Flutie. From an iconic hail mary pass at Boston College, to his three Grey Cup victories, and success in the NFL with the Bills and Chargers, Doug Flutie was the little man that did big things, and almost always found an answer. His never-say-die attitude made him a hero to many.

4) Anthony Calvillo. Winning three Grey Cups was impressive enough, but still holding the title of professional football's all-time passing yards leader (79,816 yards) is superhuman. No one could air it out like Calvillo.

3) Warren Moon. In a league where it's almost impossible just to get to the Grey Cup game, this man made it there five years in a row, winning five in a row with the dynasty Edmonton Eskimos from the late 70's to early 80's, also picking up two Grey Cup MVP's in the process. He did all of this before his stellar NFL career as well, making him one of the all-time greats in football.

2) Dan Marino. Even though he only reached the Super Bowl once in a loss to San Francisco, Dan Marino owned pretty much every passing record when he retired, and proved himself as one of, if not the best pocket passer in NFL history. His arm was a cannon, and his play was relentless.

1) Joe Montana. There really shouldn't be reason to explain this whatsoever, but the Tom Brady fanboys seem to be really bad at math (and comprehension skills in general). Montana was undefeated in all of his Super Bowl appearances, having never lost one. He also never threw an interception in the Super Bowl, remaining perfect. Montana was the ultimate class act and team player, and that will always earn him G.O.A.T. honours.

So there you have it. The BEST top 10 ever. EVER!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Antonio Brown, where you at? (NFL/AAF/CFL)

If anyone out there has been paying attention to the Antonio Brown saga, you know that he wants out of Pittsburgh (Can you blame him?). On one hand, he's one of the most talented and electrifying wide receivers as of late, and can make the big plays when need be. The again, he's also a head case that has the attention span of a squirrel and gets bored rather quickly.

All that aside, I firmly believe (and am not just saying this because I'm a 49ers fan) that he'll end up in San Francisco. The great Jerry Rice himself has even made overtures to help bring Brown to Frisco. It would be a win-win for both parties. Brown gets his change of scenery, and the Niners get a star wideout. Get this done. Now.

Johnny Manziel and the AAF? Really? Barely out of his CFL contract, Manziel was apparently in talks to play for the AAF. No one seems to know (or care) which team he might play for, and there seems to be a rather large disparity in money. The AAF pays it's players no more than $80,000 for the season, and Manziel wants somewhere in the neighbourhood of between $200,000 and $300,000. The AAF simply won't pay him that, because there would be an immediate mutiny and revolt.

Trestman finds a new home. Former CFL head coach and three-time Grey Cup winner Marc Trestman has apparently been hired as the head coach and GM of the Tampa Bay team in next year's relaunch of the XFL. This is big news from the Trestman standpoint, as I thought he'd get another gig in the CFL, or find work as a coordinator in the NFL.

Either way, it will be short-lived. The XFL flopped after one season the last time, and it will do so again. We now have a February football fix in the AAF, and it's taking some time to catch on. Adding another league at the same time will just divide audiences, and accomplish little. My chips are all in with the AAF, period.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Foles to Jags, Kyler #1? (NFL/AAF)

Why is it that almost all of the football news as of late is a buffet of quarterbacks, and little else? Oh well. At least it gives us all something to talk about, and stuff for me to write about.

Nick Foles. Super Bowl-winning QB Nick Foles has apparently agreed to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars when NFL free agency opens up. This could be an interesting move, providing the Jags shore up their O-line, unless Foles wants to get pasted game in and game out. That being said however, this is a better idea than they had when they were thinking about Joe Flacco.

Is Murray #1, or not? This was discussed on a couple sports shows today, and I'm going to say the same thing, but with an extra point. I think Kyler Murray is an amazing quarterback, and there's no denying it. I also think that he shouldn't be #1 overall either, and the constant hype that is being generated by NFL teams (most recently at this past weekend's combine) is crap. First round, for sure. Maybe even as high as #8. But number one? No. The 2019 draft is not all about Murray, and nor should it be. Everyone calm the hell down, and soon.

Week Four. Well, we've just finished another weekend of action in the AAF. The Western division looks weak as anything, the Fleet included. It was nice to see the Legends get that first win (even though QB Simms got bloodied in said game), as well as seeing the Apollos remain unbeaten. The games remain at a good pace, with excellent action. Let's hope it stays that way for the rest of the season.