Grey Cup 2022 Thoughts
The 2022 Grey Cup Game is over. The Toronto Argonauts upset the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 24-23 to win their 18th Grey Cup in history. To be honest, I had little interest in watching this year's game. I was so thoroughly disgusted by the lack of effort the Saskatchewan Roughriders made in trying to get to the big game in their home stadium, the no-name halftime entertainment that had been lined up and, frankly, have been focused on Canada at the FIFA World Cup, that I really did think this would be the first Grey Cup I have not watched since 1976. Well, I had spent most of the day on the couch watching the World Cup coverage and decided to stay on the couch a little longer to watch the Grey Cup. Am I ever glad I did. What a game. Here are a few of my thoughts.
Point 1 - I knew Winnipeg kicker, Marc Liegghio, was going to blow it one way or another and he did it in two ways. The first was when he missed the convert on Janarion Grant's punt return touchdown, making it 23-14 game, in favour of the Bombers. Even at the time, I thought that the TSN broadcast team of Rod Smith and Glen Suitor completely missed the importance of this miss (more on this on my next point). Instead of a 10-point lead, Winnipeg only had a nine-point lead - meaning that a touchdown and a field goal would win it for the Argos, which is exactly what happened. The second way Liegghio blew it was on his final field goal attempt that would have given the Bombers the lead with almost no time left on the clock. The kid has been blowing big kicks his entire two-year career in the CFL. He lost his starting placekicking job last year because of it and caused one of Winnipeg's two losses this season because he missed an easy 37-yard field goal against the Montreal Alouettes in OT to hand the Als the win. The block on the last kick saved the embarrassment that he had actually missed the field goal - if you look on the end zone camera replay, the kick was going way wide left before it was blocked. Unless there was some wicked spin on it to bring it back right, towards the goalposts, it was badly missed. With the block, at least you can claim it was a great play by the Argos instead of having to wear the goat horns of blowing a pressure kick.
Point 2 - Rod Smith misses a lot of big moments in football games. I've noticed it all season where something significant happens on the field, not necessarily the actual play, but maybe a key player being injured or has been replaced due to poor performance and these are not called out or talked about during the broadcast. There was also a game where a penalty flag was thrown, they went to commercial where they said they would find out what the flag during the break and they never did talk about it coming back, leaving the viewer to wonder what the flag was for and who it was against. Two key points were missed in the Grey Cup. The first was the aforementioned miss of the convert on Grant's big punt return touchdown. If this were an American football broadcast crew (Al Michaels comes to mind), they would bring that up and really play it up to make the game more interesting by adding that intrigue, would the missed extra point come into play later on (and it certainly did). The other was Chad Kelly coming in to replace McLeod Bethel-Thompson in the fourth quarter. Smith and Suitor thought nothing of it and didn't question why Bethel-Thompson wasn't out there, even when there was a shot of MBT holding his wrist on the sidelines. It wasn't until two drives later that they even mention that MBT was injured.
Point 3 - During Grey Cup week, some of Jeremy O'Day's screw ups came home to roost and were aired in public, when former Roughriders playing on the two teams in the big game, started talking. This week, I found out I can't hate Willie Jefferson too much - he admitted that he wanted to re-sign with the Riders in 2019 but Jeremy O'Day wouldn't give him the money he was looking for and he signed with Winnipeg for $210,000. Mistake #1 - O'Day later suffered from FOMO in free agency and signed Micah Johnson for more than what Jefferson got from Winnipeg, making Johnson the highest-paid defensive player in the league. It would prove to be a huge mistake as Johnson had a very subpar year, while Jefferson was an all-star again, this time with Winnipeg. Ooops. Mistake #2 - trading away Zach Collaros to boost Cody Fajardo's confidence, which looks like it didn't help as two years later, Cody's confidence is now shattered, and he is on his way out the door. Collaros was asked about it during Grey Cup week and took the high road by not commenting and instead shifted to talk about how much of an influence another great former Rider quarterback, Kent Austin, had on his career. Mistake #3 - letting Dariusz Bladek and Philip Blake get away in free agency in 2019. Both are now with the Argos and Bladek basically said it was personal and he wanted to win the Grey Cup in Regina. Also taking the high road, he didn't come out and say it, but you get the feeling he wanted to shove it in O'Day's face for not even trying to re-sign him and now look at the Rider O-line, giving up 77 sacks this past season.