The CFL Grey Cup game was Sunday evening and it conflicted with the late NFL game and Sunday Night Football; not to worry, this is why God provided the inspiration for man to invent DVRs. I watched my replay of the game yesterday and it was really enjoyable. The teams were evenly matched; the game was close throughout; the game went to OT and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers won the Grey Cup for the second time in a row by a score of 33-25. [There was no Grey Cup game in 2020 because the CFL was dark for all of 2020.] The Blue Bombers have won consecutive Grey Cup games twice before in history, but it was a long time ago; they accomplished this feat in 1958/59 and then again in 1961/62. In order to force the OT, Winnipeg had to come back from a 22-10 deficit in the 4th quarter; the game had plenty of exciting moments.
I really like the CFL version of OT better than the college football version because in the CFL teams take possession at the 35-yardline instead of the 25-yardline. Those 10 yards can make a difference when a team gains little or no yardage on the first three downs; in college football, there is still a relatively easy field goal try available; in the CFL, that field goal try is much more difficult. Moreover, in Sunday’s game, the wind was a significant factor; had one of the teams needed to try a field goal from more than 40 yards out, it was not going to be a “gimmee”.
Another plus for the CFL OT rule is that when a team scores a TD, they must go for a two-point conversion. I like that and would also put that in the college football OT system too. As for the NFL, if they ever seek to take kickoffs out of their OTs and go to a formulaic drive starting point, I would put the ball on the 50-yardline to begin each team’s OT possession.
The Blue Bombers got a TD and a two-point conversion in the first possession of OT. Then on the Tiger-Cats’ possession the Blue Bombers intercepted a pass that was deflected twice before the Bombers’ player secured the ball. Game Over!
There were rumors/reports back in the summer before the CFL got underway that the league was talking with the new owners of XFL 2.0 perhaps about some sort of joint operation/collaboration/whatever. Nothing came of that, and I hope nothing comes of it for two reasons:
- CFL football is sufficiently different from US football that the two games will not “merge” easily. And CFL football is an entertaining product because it is different. Cooperation/collaboration with XFL 2.0 would probably wind up with a product that is not as good as either one would be separately.
- The CFL tried an expansion into the “Lower 48” back in the 1990s. The “experiment” was short-lived and did not end well. The US-based teams had sparse attendance – to be polite about it. The CFL game is extremely popular in Canada; it did not sell here in the US.
The Baltimore Stallions (grown up versions of the Baltimore Colts?) were one US-based team that had decent attendance. #2 son and I took in a game at the old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore when the Stallions played there; my recollection is that the stadium was more than half-full on that day meaning the crowd was at least 25,000 folks. Had other teams drawn that well, the expansion into the “Lower 48” might have survived more than 2 seasons, but that was not the case.
There is an excellent book on that attempted CFL Southern Expansion written by Ed Willes, End Zones & Border Wars. I recommend it as a “stocking stuffer” for football fans on your gift list. The next-to-last chapter in that book is titled, “Half the People Here Couldn’t Even Spell Saskatchewan”. I think that chapter explains clearly why that “expansion” was doomed from the start.
While I do not think CFL football has a natural home here in the US, perhaps the time has finally come – after 50 years of hyping and prognosticating – that soccer might break through and become much more prominent here. I read a report that NBC Sports has extended its ownership of television rights here in the US for English Premier League (EPL) games for 6 years and a total of $2.67B. NBC has been televising Premier League games here in the US for about 10 years but the latest report I could find about the rights fee they are paying put the number at $180M per year. It does not take a math genius to see that NBC Sports thinks there is significant potential for growing the audience over the next 5 or 6 years.
More importantly than just the significant jump in the annual rights fee here is the report that NBC Sports did not get these broadcast rights easily. Reports say that ESPN, CBS and Amazon also bid for those broadcast rights. People have been predicting the explosion of soccer in the US for at least the last 50 years; maybe now that will actually come to pass?
The acid test for soccer growth in the US should be the growth seen by teams in MLS and the NWSL. It could be the case that American soccer fans recognize the significant difference between the way games are played in the EPL – and La Liga and Serie A etc. – and in MLS. If those American fans turn to watching foreign league games because of the higher caliber of play rather than US-based soccer teams, then whatever growth in popularity happens will have a cap on it. Time will tell…
Finally, let me close with this item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times from last week. This play on words is so bad, he should be sent to bed without supper…:
“A fan in Las Vegas took off her prosthetic leg and beat another fan with it during the Golden Knights’ 3-2 loss to Edmonton.
“Lucky she wasn’t whistled for a gam misconduct.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………