Friday, 21 August 2015

Week 9 Stamps Primer

Spectacular season-long send offs, like the victory lap that Derek Jeter received in his last year, are remarkably uncommonin professional sports. 


More often than not an athlete is unceremoniously discarded into the real world to be left to fend for himself.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing or a good thing, it’s just the reality of the business.  The game owes nothing to anyone, no matter what your accomplishments.


Take John Bowman for instance.  A 10 year vet who’s arguably one the most consistent Defensive Ends that the CFL has seen over the span of his career.  Bow’s won Grey Cups rings, he’s always been near the top of the league in sacks, and Montreal has depended on his leadership and accountability throughout his tenure in order to maintain the level of prestige that their franchise has procured.  #7 has been the face of the AlouettesDefense for years.


In any other work environment, a guy that contributed to his company at the level that Bowman has would be celebrated and given all perks of a highly decorated employee, like his own parking space, first dibs on the good vacation days, and extended lunch breaks…


One would not expect the company to treat their consummate professional like Milton from ‘Office Space’. #ButItsMyStapler


Such is life in the CFL and all other professional leagues.  With the team stalling John Bowman abruptly found himself on the outside looking in without a warning.  For the first time in his career #7 is being left off the 42-man roster, and barring any injuries it doesn’t seem like he’s in the plans moving forward.  

It seems as though Bow’s time in La Belle Province is about to hit its expiry date. 

There will be no grand send-offs, and no victory lap for the corner stone of the Alouette D; this business can turn its back on a player quickly…#JustDoesntSeemRight


It is truly a rare occasion whenever a professional athlete is able to designate which play or game will be their last in their chosen sport.  Injury, and the nature of the “business that they’ve chose” are usually the determinants of an athlete’s career.  If one is able to walk away from the game on their own without being ushered out, then they’ve achieved an undeniable milestone.


I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrases, “Play every game like it’s your last” or “Take advantage of every opportunity that you get”.  These phrases are commonplace amongst coach and player rhetoric, and for good reason.  One never knows when their time is up…


This brings us to Saturdays clash with the Calgary Stampeders.


Week 9 in Riderville is HUGE.  Its Calgary…EVERYONE. HATES. CALGARY. 


Nobody cares that the Stampeders seemed to find their groove against Ottawa; we knew the RedBlacks weren’t for real anyway!!!  

Who cares that Bo Levi Mitchell looked unflappable, and may have found his game; how come he still gets TWO last names?!? 

How the hell does Jon Hufnagel keep finding these top notch players year after year???  Does he have a deal with Mel Kiper?!?

How dare they ONE-UP our new stadium with their 950 Kabillion dollar arena complex!!!  The Flames haven’t been a threat since the Lanny McDonald era!!!


Team records, and divisional positioning don’t matter here.  This bitter rivalry between the Stamps and Riders brings out the best in the players that get to suit up; and pulls on the emotions of each of the teams fan bases.  It’s become something special to be a part of


I can’t describe the feeling that one gets playing in games like this.  

An old coach of mine used to say “It’s what you live for!” 


And it really is…Games like this are what a professional athlete lives for.  It makes the journey all the more special, HOWEVER, it’s coated with a bittersweet reality…


One never knows how many opportunities that they’ll get to play in games like this one, especially when it’s at home.  Athletes, and their non-guaranteed contracts walk the tightrope of uncertainty with every rep they take.

The game doesn’t discriminate and one is always an injury, or a bad snap away from having the carpet ripped from underneath them.  

The reality of the deal is that there a few players in that locker room that will be suiting up for this Rivalry Game for the last time in their career.  Nobody knows who those players are right now, but it’s a guaranteed truth.  


That’s why one gets the “Play every game like it’s your last!” speeches.  It very well may be ones last game.  


That’s why one constantly speaks about “opportunity” and making the most of one’s chances; in pro sports breaks are taken away far quicker than they are given.


Saturday’s game in Regina features a number of potential storylines.  One of those stories will be talk of the momentum that this games may supply the Roughriders should they come out victorious.  Without looking too far ahead, a victory here would surely position the team well moving into Ottawa and the traditional back-to-back against Winter-peg.


Whatever the case may be, the real facts lie hidden amongst all the hype.  This is the final time that a few of your favourite players may be strapping up for this storied conflict in Mosaic Stadium. Father Time is undefeated and eventually he focuses his gaze on everyone.


Every rep, on Offense, Defense, and Special Teams is a bar of gold this Saturday.  The chance to get everything moving in a positive direction is right in front of the Green and White just waiting to get snapped up.  Players have to revel in these games.  The guys need to have fun, and enjoy every step of the process.  One needs to appreciate the sights and smells of the game as they go from the parking lot to the stadium.  One should feel the anticipation of the day and soak it in during the warm-ups.


The music will feel a little louder running out of the Green helmet at 5pm.  The bang and crackle of the fireworks will hit a little harder.  Its Calgary week, everything will move a little faster…


One should allow themselves some time to absorb it all at some point during the game.  Don’t just pass it off as another game. This game is one of the many special perks that one gets to participate in if they make the right sacrifices and put in the right amount of work.


Week 9 is another “Opportunity” to compete, and it comes against an opponent that many have grown to hate.  The match-up will be fierce, violent, and fun.  Tip your cups to the Saskatchewan Roughriders seizing this chance…For some players, it will be the last time that they’ll be privileged enough to play in this game.  Unfortunately, that very decision is rarely left up to the player himself.









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