Reports Sunday evening are indicating that former BC Lions receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux has a signed a 2 -year free agent deal with his former team. Neither the club or the player has officially confirmed the deal, but several reputable sources are now reporting the contract is done.
Arceneaux spent the last two seasons trying to find a home in the NFL, but spent much of his time on the practice rosters of the Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins and most recently the New York Jets, who released him just prior to last week. Over his two season with the Lions, Arceneaux caught 130 passes for 1,972 yards and 12 touchdowns before trying his luck down south.
The Lions were considered to be the front-runner heading into the process, not because BC was his last CFL club, but because the import receiver had a strong connection and mentor type relationship with general manager Wally Buono. He also has a strong connection to several current BC Lions players, as well as the offence of coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine. The departure of Geroy Simon means that there will be a prime role available in training camp,
Earlier this weekend it was speculated the Lions offer to Arceneaux was low and that the Toronto Argonauts were the front-runners to land him. Silence fell over the weekend and twitter users began to speculate what the outcome would be, with Arceneaux playing along and even admitting to The Province’s Lowell Ullrich, ““I was just messing around. Seriously, I didn’t know what was going on.”
In the end both the team and the player got what they wanted and if it wasn’t already, the battle at receiver during training camp will be one to watch.
- Talk over, Arceneaux signs tw0-year Lions Deal – Lowell Ullrich (The Province)
- Lions, WR Arceneaux agree to terms on 2-year, 280K deal. (TSN.ca)
The 2013 CFL Canadian College Draft has come and gone and it will likely be sometime before the BC Lions see what they got from this year’s group of picks. Some are projects, some may look south of the border. Let’s take a look at the newest members of the Pride as we try and learn a bit more about them.
Hunter Steward – Offensive Lineman – Liberty University of Lynchurg, Virginia. (1st pick, 6th overall)
Heading into the draft, the Lions were looking to address their non-import offensive line depth. The club saw three of its top choices plucked by other clubs by the time their pick came up, and rather than take a risk on a player that was drawing interest from the NFL, the club went off the board somewhat to select Steward, a 6’7” 290 pound lineman from Liberty where he will return next season to complete his final year of collegiate eligibility. The Lions project that Steward; a converted defensive lineman, could develop into a tackle in the CFL, but they will have to wait until 2014 to make that assessment.
His coaches say:
• Very athletic
• Plays with a lot of energy
• Is still learning the position, but is going to be a great football player.
Seydou Junior Haidara – Wide Receiver – Laval University (2nd pick, 12th overall)
Widely regarded as one of the best receivers available in the draft, the Lions selected Haidara with their second pick of the day. At 6’1” 215 pounds, he’s a big bodied receiver who the Lions feel can play multiple positions in the offense, be it wideout, slot or tight end. Head coach Mike Benevides added that Haidara was also at the top of the class in special teams where his career will likely begin with the Lions if he impresses enough at camp, giving him a chance to hone his skills under an already solid set of receivers. If that doesn’t work out, he still has another year of CIS eligibility left.
Bo Lokombo – Linebacker – Oregon (3rd pick, 21st overall)
With their third pick the Lions certainly rolled the dice a little bit, taking Abbotsford native Bo Lokombo, who plays for a solid program in Oregon and is already drawing interest from NFL teams. It may be awhile if ever, before the Lions see Lokombo in black and orange,
Being a local product the Lions have seen a lot of Lokombo and the club simply felt that at that time in the draft, there was too much upside to pass up taking the chance.
With Adam Bighill and Solomon Elimimian in place, the Lions have time to watch the Lokombo story play out, and if it ends up in their favour, they probably drafted one of the best prospects in this year’s class. He and DL Stefan Charles (who was drafted by the Eskimos) were consistently at or near the top of the prospect rankings. Lokombo will be returning to Oregon for another season, with his sights set firmly on next year’s NFL draft when he will be eligible for selection.
Matt McGarva – Defensive Back – Windsor (4th pick, 33rd overall)
The Lions dipped into some family genes with their selection of DB Matt McGarva of Windsor. McGarva’s brother, Sean is a Community Relations coordinator for the club. With the loss of Cauchy Muamba in the off-season, an aging secondary and the departure of Byron Parker, defensive back was another area the Lions were hoping to address.
At 6’0”, 191 pounds, the Surrey native is a hometown product who lists himself on his Twitter account as an “avid BC Lions fan”, so he should be thrilled with today’s events. He was named a second team all-Canadian in 2011 after finishing the season with 48 tackles for the Lancers. He went on to earn his second-straight OUA all-star nod last fall in his final year of eligibility with Windsor, despite playing just four games.
McGarva is a fitness nut and will “cut his teeth” on special teams according to Lions DB coach Mark Washington as the club tries to groom him for a non-import spot in the secondary one day.
Matthew Albright – Offensive Lineman – Saint Mary’s (5th pick, 42nd overall)
The Lions went back to the offensive line with their 5th pick of the day; selecting 6’5” 295 pound Matthew Albright from Saint Mary’s. Winner of a Russ Jackson award in 2012, presented to the player best exemplifying the attributes of academic achievement, football skill & citizenship, Albright played tackle for the Huskies and was named a conference all-star in 2012. His offensive line with the Huskies gave up just 10 sacks last year in 8 games and averaged a league best 201.4 yards a game.
Matt Walker –Defensive Back – UBC (6TH pick, 50th overall).
The Lions stayed local with their next pick selecting UBC’s Matt Walker, who had an impressive invite camp with the Lions in April. Walker will get a taste of the CFL at training camp this season, but will likely return to UBC where at 21, he still has three years of eligibility left.
Walker played high school football in Vernon & from there went to University of Saskatchewan Huskies as a WR. He played one season with the Bratislava Monarchs in Slovakia in the spring 2011 In the fall of 2011 he came to the Okanagan Sun about 4 games in as a WR but transitioned to DB in his 2nd game. Walker played in one exhibition & 1 regular season game in 2012 for UBC before an ACL tear ended his season. He fully rehabbed the injury and is back at full speed (4.59 40 at April e-camp).
(Thanks to Heather Foster for the info on Matt).
Cameron Thorn –Defensive Lineman – Guelph (7th pick, 58th overall)
With their final pick in the Lions added a natural defensive lineman who they hope to covert to the offensive line, selecting Guelph’s Cameron Thorn. The Ontario native also possesses ability as a long-snapper, a valuable commodity in the CFL.
This past season the 6-foot-5, 290lb fourth year player appeared in eight regular season games for the Gryphons and racking up 19 tackles, and one sack. In 2012, Thorn played in the East West Bowl at Western University on the West Team.
More Draft Coverage:
- CFL.ca Draft Board
- BCLions.com Draft Coverage
- BC Lions getting good at rolling the dice. (Lowell Ullrich, The Province)
- Linden Gaydosh selected first overall (TSN.ca)
- Behind The Scenes At The CFL Draft (Kate McKenna – TSN.ca)
- Looking Ahead: Recapping the CFL Draft (TSN.ca)
A few weeks ago we brought you a story on the off-season training regimen of veteran corner back Dante Marsh. Marsh has carved out a nice career in BC, but it started because of dedication and a will to realize his dreams.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are always young players who are starting their journeys and trying to get where players like Marsh have travelled.
One of those players is 23 year old Jordan Linnen, who has played the last four seasons with Langley (formerly Surrey) Rams in the BCFC. Two years ago, Linnen caught the eye of the BC Lions and they invited him to their training camp. He even got his first taste of pro football when he dressed for an exhibition game.
Linnen fell in love with the game in the 8th grade but didn’t really feel it was something he wanted to pursue as a career until his junior year.
As every professional athlete would tell you, Linnen says he’s had to make sacrifices as he chases his dream. “I’ve had to make a lot sacrifices in various areas of my life to pursue my dream of playing professional football. One area that I have had to sacrifice most in is my personal life and being able to do things with my family and friends,” said Linnen. “Football and training both take a huge time and monetary commitment. Thankfully throughout the years and process, my family and friends have sacrificed and supported me fully.”
“I gained a lot of my knowledge and experience at several positions in the secondary. I was fortunate enough to have coaches and former players around me that I could take away little things from and apply them to my game,” says Linnen. “I was also fortunate to be able to go up against some of the best receivers and running backs in the country week in and week out. Over those four years, I also learned a lot about myself as a person with dealing with different adversities, issues and responsibilities that come from playing junior football.”
His time with the BC Lions didn’t hurt either and showed Linnen what lies ahead if he can make it to the next level. “It taught me what it took to be a professional both on and off the field as well as the discipline, structure and commitment it took to become a professional athlete,” he said. “I was fortunate to be on a team with a lot of veteran leadership especially at the defensive back position. Having that experience and knowledge alone helped me tremendously in furthering my skill set as a DB.”
Linnen says the veteran core of the Lions was more than willing to take him under their wing. “Some of the key players that helped me most were Davis Sanchez, Dante Marsh, Geroy Simon, JR LaRose and Cauchy Muamba. To this day, I still maintain great relationships with and talk frequently to these guys to continue to develop and better my craft.”
Playing in his first exhibition game was a special moment for Jordan and he got his pro debut off to a rocking start with a big hit on special teams.
“It was an unbelievable experience and one of the most memorable moments of my life. I remember a day or two before the game, thinking to myself how I envisioned my first play in the CFL. I told myself that I wanted to run down the field and make a big play on my very first play so when it happened it was a kind of surreal feeling. My heart was beating heavy and my adrenaline was going. After that play, I settled in and realized I was just playing football.”
Not only did Linnen get to dress for that game, he also got to be part of the Grey Cup win that season, with the team and on the sidelines.
“It was an unforgettable experience that most aspiring athletes only dream of and yet I was blessed to experience it at such a young age. Some pros play an entire career without being able to experience a Grey Cup. Not only the game but the entire week leading up to the game, was filled with memorable moments and experiences like media day, practices and team dinners. The game itself had an unexplainable atmosphere like nothing I had ever experienced before. I am forever humbled and grateful for being forwarded the opportunity to be a part of that team.”
Of course, Jordan would like to get another shot with the Lions, who have told him they would like to see improvement in his speed and more consistency in his playmaking. Linnen says he’s worked hard in the off-season to work on his flaws and hopes to get another invite to training camp in June. He says other CFL teams have shown some interest but doesn’t know if anything will come of it.
Despite how hard he has worked, Linnen knows there are no guarantees and he plans to finish out his remaining years of CIS eligibility if no offers come his way.
Football teaches young people so many great values in life; not only about the game, but about hard work, discipline and teamwork. Whether Jordan Linnen gets to where he dreams to be or not has yet to be determined, but the qualities football has instilled in him will be with him through the rest of his life.
Our thanks to Jordan for taking the time to speak to us! You can follow his football journeys on Twitter, @WhoIsJLinnen
Becoming a professional football player involves possessing the talent and is the result of hard work. Remaining a professional football player is just as hard and at any given moment you could be out of a job if someone works their way past you into the lineup and it’s up to you and nobody else to prevent that from happening for as long as you can.
Entering his 10th season with the BC Lions, Dante Marsh is just as hungry as ever to succeed at his craft. The end of the season doesn’t mean the end of Marsh’s job and the club’s all-time leader in tackles knows the off-season is time for him to get better to try to stay at the top of the depth chart. Simply put, longevity doesn’t come easy.
Dante recently spoke with BCLionsDen.ca about his off-season workout regimen.
Marsh’s off-season duties don’t just include staying in shape for the next season. The off-season is a chance to spend time with his family in Atlanta. A typical day starts early as Marsh gets his kids off to school and eats a solid breakfast. Each morning consists of a serving of egg whites, oatmeal, dry toast and yogurt, followed that by a regimen of pre-workout supplements.
Marsh says diet is a major part of his daily routine. “I try to stick with chicken, fish and ground turkey. No soda and I try limiting fried and processed foods. My only vice is sweets sometimes but hey if I deviate that just means I have to work out even harder. But you have to have cheat days or you will go crazy.”
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are “explosive” days, focusing more on weights, squats, dead-lifts and leg press. Marsh also does a lot of resistance training and core work and spends a lot of time strengthening his abs and hip flexor for the rigors of the long season ahead of him.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are heavy field and track days where speed and one on one drills are the focus. “These days are grueling they have been known to cause vomiting no matter how good of shape you may think you’re in”, said Marsh.
Lastly, Marsh is a proponent of stretching and feels it can add speed and agility in addition to keeping him flexible. Other activities like pool work, sand pits, tire jumps and running hills are mixed in to keep things fresh and challenging.
Marsh is not alone when he works out, keeping company with the likes of Milt Stegall, Byron Parker, Carlos Thomas and Darian Durant, among others in the Atlanta area.
Saturdays and Sundays are pretty much off days, with Sunday being a church day. Even so, he will sometimes go to the gym Sunday evening to get and early start on his week. “I love working out, it’s my happy place at the gym or on the field and I just love training and being competitive”, Marsh said. “I feel like I have gotten better with time because I still have the mentality of a first year player still trying to make the team every year. I don’t want to be good I want to be great”, says Marsh. “You have to develop a mindset that you will not be denied. By just by changing your attitude you can do things you never thought possible.”
For their part, the Lions must agree. “We’re blessed with a veteran secondary made up of individuals who take enormous pride in their craft and Dante’s work ethic has been his calling card since day one”, said head coach Mike Benevides following the veteran’s contract extension.
Marsh ends by reciting his motto, “How can they beat you, if they can’t out work you?”
You can keep up with Dante Marsh this off-season on his social media platforms:
Take a look at some of these photos and videos of Dante Marsh, on the grind!
Dante works on footwork and speed.
Don’t try this at home.
The BC Lions announced a contract extension for nine year veteran cornerback Dante Marsh on Wednesday and it would be a tough to find anyone who questions that move. Marsh has been consistently solid in his nine years patrolling the corner of the Lions secondary, and has become a leader on and off the field.
Lions’ fans that witnessed Marsh’s first game as a Lion, might not have been so sure he would be around nine years later. Now a seasoned CFL veteran, Marsh was given a harsh introduction to the CFL that night, but his confidence in himself and his work ethic have carved out a nice place in Lions and CFL history that could find him on the Lions Ring of Honour / Wall of Fame, if not the hall itself in Hamilton.
With two Grey Cup rings on his resume, Marsh is part of a solid core of players that are the leadership brain trust in the Lions locker room. That leadership group has been instrumental in the two championships during Marsh’s tenure, and has allowed young players coming in to be given an example of how to be professionals.
When Khalif Mitchell went off the rails a little last season, it was Marsh that spoke out to let the young defensive lineman know that he better shape up or be prepared to ship out.
“I’m not going to have someone ruin what we‘ve built around here,” Marsh told the media at the time.
The leadership group of the club will be challenged again this year after the departure of Geroy Simon, who of course is now in Saskatchewan. But the torch is in good hands, making the contract extension for Marsh just as valuable off the field as it is on it.
As a friend of this site, we’re glad to have Dante back for a 10th season. He’s partnered with us in the past to raise money for CFL Fans Fight Cancer, another one of his solid attributes.
Dante talks to Lions fans about his extension:
Marco Iannuzzi back as well.
The Lions also announced an extension for Canadian receiver Marco Iannuzzi this week. Iannuzzi oozes potential and along with Akeem Foster, Shawn Gore and Paris Jackson, gives the Lions great non-import depth at the position heading into 2013. Look for Iannuzzi to play a bigger role and build on his 30 catch, 353 yard, 5 touchdown season a year ago.
When it comes to days at the office, Wally Buono can certainly say he had a great one as free agency opened across the CFL on Friday. After the firestorm of the Geroy Simon trade, it had to be a feel good day out in Surrey. Here is a recap and some thoughts on today’s activity.
The Lions started the day by announcing the re-signing of veteran receiver Paris Jackson and an extension for Korey Banks. As Lowell Ullrich of The Province tweeted, the extension for Banks was just part of the annual off-season routine for the Lions and the veteran defensive back.
The Jackson signing was news simply because there is a notion that after two years of accepting a lesser role, Jackson and the Lions are indicating that he’ll be given every opportunity to use his experience and get back on the playing field. Jackson had asked for his release from the Lions, but his leadership among the receiving corps could be the reason why the Lions had second thoughts, especially after the departure of Geroy Simon.
With those signings out of the way, the Lions turned their attention to their most high profile free agents. Free agency began with the news that Solomon Elimimian had decided to remain in the CFL. Farhan Lalji from TSN modified partner Dave Naylor’s tweet by saying Elimimian would not be signing in BC.
That set off some excitement on Twitter, with fans of other teams wondering how Elimimian would fit into their team’s plans. Shortly after that, reports began to surface that the Lions had re-signed Elimimian, though it took a while for all sides to finally confirm. The Lions had Elimimian take a medical prior to the deadline, and obviously feel there are no serious issues there. It’s believed that Elimimian received a similar deal to that of Adam Bighill, who he will have a whole training camp to get in sync with heading into the 2013 season.
The news got even better when the Lions announced (before Elimimian was confirmed) that they had signed 2012 most outstanding offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye to a new deal. It was widely known that Olafioye would explore his options in the NFL, but after last year’s experience and the lack of a real commitment by anyone this year, he appears to have made the decision to carve out a nice career here in BC. That’s great news for the Lions (and for Travis Lulay) who would have had a big hole to fill on the offensive line, particularly with the question marks at the guard spots heading into training camp. In fact the only downer on the day was the fact the Lions weren’t able to add any depth for the offensive line, thanks largely in part to teams re-signing their own players and the crop being rather thin this year.
The Lions also plucked defensive lineman Julius Williams from the Edmonton Eskimos to add to their stacked defensive line corps. Williams, listed at 6’2 257 pounds, is entering his third year in the league and was deemed expendable by Edmonton GM Ed Hervey after his club signed Odell Willis away from Saskatchewan moments after free agency opened. Williams has compiled 25 tackles and 7 sacks over his 24 regular season and 3 playoff appearances. The signing could give the Lions two Williams as defensive ends, with all-star Keron the other bookend.
The Lions did lose James Yurichuk to the Toronto Argonauts on Friday. The Ontario native chose to sign in his home province rather than re-up with the Lions and you can’t blame him. His work on special teams will be missed, but Yurichuk wasn’t going to see much playing time behind McKenzie, Bighill and Elimimian.
Defensive back Cauchy Muamba also entered the day as a free agent but as of this blog had not signed with anyone yet.
So all in all it was a great day for the Lions and their fans and who knows, there could be another tweak or two in the coming days.
We’ll leave the last word to the boss:
It goes without saying that every BC Lions fan would like to see a perfect ending to Geroy Simon’s career. But with news this week that Simon’s agent has asked the Lions to gauge trade interest for his client in lieu of the two sides unable to agree on a restructured contract, there is work to be done if Simon is to end his career in BC Lions orange.
It would of course just be plain wrong to see Superman playing for another CFL club. He has become one of the greatest if not the greatest BC Lions of all time and GM Wally Buono understands what he means to the football fans in this province. With good young talent waiting in the wings, Buono must decide on a role for the CFL’s all-time leader in reception yardage. Simon of course suffered through a season of hamstring injuries and during his rehab the team saw good performances from the likes of Ernest Jackson, Shawn Gore, Nick Moore, Courtney Taylor and others. They also went undefeated in Simon’s absence.
Assembling a CFL club is a constant puzzle that changes on a yearly basis. The salary management system (SMS) is a huge piece of that puzzle and for the better part of his career, Geroy Simon has been one of the higher paid players on the team and deservedly so. No BC Lions player has been more valuable to the franchise, not only for his play on the field but building the Lions brand and entrenching himself in the community. This is what makes Buono’s job so difficult when it comes to what to do about Simon.
From the club’s perspective, the first preference is to have Simon back. From Simon’s perspective, that should happen with an elite receiver’s salary, thus the current stalemate. The club recently rewarded Travis Lulay with a new deal averaging $450,000 a year. Not an uncommon number for the elite quarterbacks in the league. They shed the salaries of Arland Bruce and Byron Parker by releasing them and they hope to get the promising Canadian Shawn Gore signed to a new deal, unless he can find a home in the NFL. But as much as this negotiation is about money it’s also about getting their young players more playing time, while keeping the team competing for a Grey Cup. Simon could definitely play a role with the receiving core, it’s just a matter of what role he would be willing to accept and what he wants to be paid.
While fans get attached emotionally, it’s a trait that Buono can ill afford despite the enormity of the decision he’s facing. He’s always been able to make tough decisions in the past, and he’s usually right when it comes to assessing the talent mix on his teams. Alan Pitts, Jason Clermont, Aaron Hunt, are all players that come to mind as difficult decisions Buono had to present to fans in pursuit of making the right football decisions. Of course there has been an error or two as well. The premature demotion of Angus Reid is a perfect example and to Reid’s credit he sucked it up and proved Buono wrong, racking up back to back all-star seasons since.
Geroy Simon is special and he deserves to be treated with respect and dignity and by honouring his request to gauge trade interest, I believe the Lions are doing just that. I really hope the two sides can come to some sort of agreement and every BC Lions fan gets to see him finish his career they way he should. Fans will be upset if he leaves, no doubt about it. But a new deal has to work for both sides, with the goal of making the Lions the best team they can be.
At the end of the day it’s a problem Wally Buono will resolve one way or the other and judging by his track record, the Lions will be just fine, whatever solution he arrives at and Geroy Simon will always be a BC Lion, one of the greatest of all-time.
With GM Wally Buono on his annual Hawaiian vacation, there hasn’t been much news of late coming out of the Lions Den. But as we had into 2013, there are a few nuggets worth discussing including an attempt by a certain team to get Buono to move east.
Fabien Looking South
Scott Mitchell of the Calgary Sun reports that 2011 first round draft pick Kirby Fabien will have a chance to impress NFL scouts after being named to the West roster at the East-West Shrine game. The game includes the best that college football has to offer and is a high exposure event for players to get the big league’s attention.
The Lions of course are still hoping to have Fabien in their lineup, as soon as this year, and with uncertainty along the offensive line due to injury issues to Dean Valli and Jon Hameister-Ries, never mind the possible departure of Jovan Olafioye, Fabien heading south would be a blow.
That said it was the reason he returned to the Calgary Dinos instead of signing with the Leos last season. A chance to play in the NFL is every young players dream and you can’t fault Fabien for pursuing his for himself and for his family. If it doesn’t work out for him, Fabien told the Sun he has no issues with playing in the CFL.
“It’s a great option. It’s a great city and a great organization. If I play in the CFL, I’ll be playing for the Lions.”
Buono Approached by Ottawa Group
Tim Baines of the Ottawa Sun reports that Jeff Hunt and the Ottawa Sports & Entertainment Group are leaving no stone unturned in their search for a quality football man to run their operation. Baines writes that Hunt approached the Lions about permission to speak with GM Wally Buono, who quickly informed them he was quite happy in Vancouver.
It’s of course a compliment to Buono and to the Lions organization that he was approached, but Lions fans everywhere have to be pleased it didn’t go any farther than a courtesy phone call. The Lions have a solid and stable football operations team in place, a luxury that many teams would love to replicate.
Growing the Brand
I recently attended a Seattle Seahawks game and couldn’t help coming away total impressed. I’ve been down before but this trip really hammered home how well the Seahawks have marketed the “12th Man” concept to the fans. Everyone there buys in and on game day it is an event all around the stadium.
From the Blue Thunder percussion group, the tailgating, Touchdown City and the raising of the 12th man flag, the Seahawks brand is everywhere. The city takes pride in having the loudest stadium in the NFL, and if you haven’t experienced it live, you haven’t heard loud.
Of course it’s a different league and a different culture south of the border; Saskatchewan and Winnipeg would be the smaller scale versions of the Seahawks model, with the Riders marketing their fans as the 13th man. With their new stadiums in the works, both teams have a real chance to build on the pride they take in having the loudest stadiums in the league.
When the building is full and the fans are into the game BC Place is a very loud stadium, but those occurrences are all too rare in BC. The crowd is good and becoming more involved, but it could be so much better if they felt part of the whole experience. The Lions were all over the media last off-season following their Grey Cup win, but it didn’t result in the increased attendance they had hoped for. As a fan you can’t help to be somewhat jealous of how passionate fans in these markets are about their teams.
It is up to the team to find something for the fans to get behind so they can help build and instill this type of passion among its fan base. They only need to look 2 hours south to get some really great ideas.
All the best to the Seahawks this weekend! Go Hawks!
Now that the 2012 CFL season has come to an end and I have recovered from Grey Cup (minus the annual cold I get when I come back), I thought I’d just ramble on a bit about Grey Cup and some of the news that’s happened since the final whistle blew on the season. I hope it promotes some discussion!
Congratulations to the Toronto Argonauts on their championship season, and also to the city of Toronto who put on a great party for CFL fans from across the country. Certainly it would have been nice to see more locals involved in the fun, but the fans that do support the Argos are just as passionate as any in the country and I’m pleased to call many of them friends. Here’s hoping the fun and the passion that invaded their city converted a few more into fans of the league and of the Argos.
I thought the game itself lacked drama but full credit to the Argos who were certainly ready to play, while the Stampeders looked as though they left their game in BC Place following the Western Final. Chad Kackert was an easy choice as the MOP and Ricky Ray showed his poise and experience as well. As a neutral fan it was nice to watch a stress free game, but as a Lions fan I was certainly left wondering what might have been.
Everyone knows about the great party rooms at Grey Cup, but some of the lesser known events often tend to be the best. This year, I was pleased to attend the CFL Fans Fight Cancer fundraiser at Joe Badali’s. The event was organized by the eastern chapter of the national fan group and led by Jen Mulder who did a fantastic job organizing a silent auction, raffle prizes, a 50/50 and a live auction. Prizes were donated from businesses and fans from across the country. At last count over $8000.00 was raised for the Wellspring Centre in Toronto, a facility that provides various levels of help and support for people living with cancer and their families. Congrats to all the organizers of this event on its huge success.
The 4th annual Official CFL Grey Cup Tweetup was held at Shoeless Joe’s Sports Bar. The event has become a staple since the original tweetup in Calgary in 2009. Fans that use twitter gathered together to get social and put faces to the Twitter handles. There were lots of prizes and great food, as well as a visit from a few players, the commissioner and the Grey Cup itself.
New this year was the “Grey Cup Fan March” where fans gathered at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium and carried the Grey Cup through the streets of downtown Toronto and onto the Rogers Centre. I was fortunate enough to be asked if I wanted to carry the Grey Cup for a segment near the beginning of the march, and I gladly accepted the chance to do so. It was a great experience, and the march itself was a success. Fans chanted “CFL” and sang the national anthem with CFL commissioner Mark Cohon marching right along with them. Imagine that, Gary Bettman.
Lions News and Notes
Speculation has begun about how the Lions roster will be altered this off-season. So far it has been reported that Solomon Elimimian has reportedly asked for his release to pursue another opportunity in the NFL.
Jovan Olafioye will also entertain offers from south of the border but has indicated he won’t be auditioning for teams like he did last season. Olayfioye told the Vancouver Sun that if a decent offer with a solid signing bonus doesn’t come his way, he’ll have no problem staying in Canada.
Wally Buono will wait for personnel reports and recommendations from head coach Mike Benevides and will have his work cut out for him when he returns from his annual Hawaiian holiday. He’ll attempt to get Shawn Gore’s name on a new contract, and will have tough decisions to make regarding the secondary, the receivers and the offensive line, which is likely to look quite different next year, especially if Angus Reid retires and Olafioye heads south.
For the first time, people are questioning the role of Geroy Simon who had a subpar year that was plagued by nagging hamstring injuries. Simon is not making any noise about retiring, so one of the biggest decisions the club has had to make in years is looming. Personally I’d like to see him back, possibly in a reduced role and likely a reduced contract as well. Whether that is something he would entertain is another issue. Regardless, Simon is one of the greatest to ever play the game and he certainly deserves some say in what his future holds. I doubt Arland Bruce will be back, and the Lions have shown they have some good talent waiting in the wings in Nick Moore, Ernest Jackson and Courtney Taylor.
Then there is the kicking game, where Paul McCallum showed signs of his age in 2012. His punting, which was his strong suit suffered this past year and his kickoffs and field goal range are starting to deteriorate as well. With Hugh O’Neill looking good the last two seasons in training camp and at practice, the Lions may feel it is time to pass the torch before they lose another kicker they have taken the time to groom. Last time the club chose McCallum over Sean Whyte, now with Montreal, but it could be a different story next season.
Odds and Ends
Anyone find it odd that the furor over Adriano Belli’s move that got him tossed from the Grey Cup game got very little mention from the media compared to Khalif Mitchell? Belli has played on the edge his whole career, but it looks like his penchant for kissing people and his forays into the media world got him a pass. The CFL fined Belli, who is expected to retire but we certainly didn’t hear the comments about “disgrace to the game” from the people that persecuted Mitchell. Speaking of Mitchell it remains to be seen if the Lions will be willing to take a chance with him for another season.
Locker Room Sale
The Lions held their annual locker room sale on December 1st and while there were some good deals to be had it was disheartening to see the prices on game worn jerseys and helmets. These items ranged in price from $250 to $750 depending on the player. Reports from similar events in other CFL cities had these items much cheaper. It’s always sad when the diehard fan ends up getting shut out because the prices are set so high. In 2004 I bought Antonio Warren’s Grey Cup game worn jersey for $150.00. That’s just a pipe dream today.
Thanks to Monique Gendron who provided us with some great videos this year, and I hope she’ll be back to help us out again next season.
Thanks to Lowell Ullrich who approached this blogger two years ago with an idea to add a fan perspective to the Province.com. I’ve had a blast doing post game reports and I look forward to doing it again if they’ll have me.
It was also a pleasure as always to work with Kristina Sinclair and our friends at the Rosedale on Robson and we hope to continue that relationship in 2013.
Most of all, thanks to all of you who followed along with me during the 2012 season. Whether you read the blog, my post game stuff on The Province.com of just follow me on Twitter or Facebook, I appreciate you doing so and always enjoy the feedback.
I’ll make every effort to keep your informed and promote Lions discussion this off-season and hope you continue to check our social media platforms out. I’ll be thinking of ways we can be better and hope to add some quality features and a few more people to our team next season.
Until then, enjoy the off-season and as always, roar you Lions roar!
Monique Gendron, aka @Lilminimo wants to make sure that everyone is clear about their responsibilities at this Sunday’s Western Final between the BC Lions and Calgary Stampeders. Take her advice and be there to defend our cup!