Canadian Football League 2017: Week 4 talking points

Andrew Kitchener Roar Guru

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    We're past halfway through the CFL season.

    Exactly one month into the season and it was another big week across Canada.

    What about Karen?
    The Canadian chain Safeway’s has a contest where, on any given night, a lucky viewer drawn at random has a chance to win a home entertainment system if a kick-off is returned for a touchdown. Then, if a second touchdown is returned in the same fashion, the prize becomes a whopping one million dollars.

    So imagine the excitement for Winnipeg native and Blue Bomber fan Karen Kuldys when the first play of Thursday night’s Blue Bombers versus Argos game was a Winnipeg kick-off return for a touchdown. Bingo, a home entertainment system. Then, how amazing would she have been feeling when Toronto’s Martese Jackson returned a second kick-off to the house – only to have it called back by the referees, for an illegal block call that was a mystery to everyone but the official who called it.

    From hero to zero. I don’t even want to think about how the Kuldys household must’ve felt when they saw the flag, and then the replay. The alleged block happened well behind the play, had no safety concerns attached and basically wasn’t going to change the outcome. It was, unfortunately, the sort of howler that’s plagued the first month of the 2017 Canadian Football League season.

    It didn’t take long for the hashtag #WhatAboutKaren to trend nationally and soon the League had the mother of all public relations nightmares on it’s hands – the flames fanned on Twitter and elsewhere. For the first time probably ever, the consequences of a refereeing blunder had crossed the sideline, and was directly affecting the lifeblood of the league: it’s fans. You can’t be doing that.

    Credit to Commissioner Ambrosie who invited the family to the Grey Cup game in November as VIPs. Credit, also, to Safeway, who threw in a year’s free groceries for the unlucky family. And to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who’ve stumped up season tickets for the remainder of this year and all of 2018.

    Those gracious acts won’t – and definitely shouldn’t – take away from the shocking refereeing moment that cost a fan one million dollars. We see too many of these sorts of sketchy calls so far this year, and I struggle to see any improvement. If this isn’t a serious wake-up call for Ambrosie and the entire league, I don’t know what is.

    Henry Burris CFL Canada football Canadian Football League American football college football NFL

    No Jonathan Jennings, no worries for BC
    When star quarterback Jonathan Jennings exited the game with a bruised throwing shoulder in the first quarter in Hamilton on Saturday night, BC fans were probably getting worried. Turns out, they didn’t need to worry because backup Travis Lulay stepped in and proceeded to break a Canadian Football League record for passing yards by a quarterback off the bench.

    He had 436 yards and three touchdowns helped the Lions to a 41-26 win over the reeling Tiger-Cats, ending their East division road trip with a perfect 3-0 record.

    Calgary lose in Montreal
    Well, fair to say I didn’t see this coming. The Stampeders crashed to their first loss of the season in Montreal, a 30-23 decision against an Alouettes squad that hadn’t scored more than nineteen points coming in.

    Despite dominating long stretches of the game, and intercepting Montreal quarterback Darian Durant with regularity, the Stamps left a lot of points on the field, and that, as well as the somewhat-questionable disqualification of running back Jerome Messam after a Montreal defensive score, cost them the game.

    I wonder if the tough road loss won’t kick-start the Stamps, who’ve been rather uneven and inconsistent through the first month of the year.

    Bryan Burnham’s touchdown catch was freakish
    The BC Lions receiver made a circus catch for a third-quarter touchdown on Saturday night in Hamilton. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour: jump on Twitter or YouTube and have a look. It was spectacular stuff.

    Ottawa still haven’t won
    You know, the Redblacks might be the best team in the weak East division, yet they haven’t won a game. A first-up tie at home against the Stampeders, a close loss at Calgary in week two, another close loss at home to Toronto last week and then on Friday night, Edmonton scored twenty straight points to record a gutsy 23-21 win at home, dropping Ottawa to 0-3-1.

    It looks a bad record at face value, but consider they’ve played perhaps the two best teams in the league – Calgary (twice) and Edmonton – and run both teams close.

    There’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel. Despite that, there’s been some social media hysteria around whether Trevor Harris should be benched for Ryan Lindley. I’d say that isn’t going to happen. Harris has been pretty decent this year. He’ll get the ship righted, and the wins will come.

    It goes from bad to worse in Hamilton
    The porous Tiger-Cat defence might’ve expected an easier night at the office against Travis Lulay after Jonathan Jennings left the game, but they were sliced, diced and shredded by the Lions backup, giving up more than 400 yards.

    It’s been an abysmal start right across the board in Hamilton. At least the offence showed some signs of life this week under Zach Collaros, but the defence seems to have regressed. They’ve got Edmonton next week, and I dread the numbers Mike Reilly might put up against the incredibly-vulnerable TiCat secondary.

    Wonder how long until we see some sort of change in Hamilton?

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