Likability may not be the most important thing, but if you are a fan of one of the three CFL franchises that are not in the playoffs, it can be what separates you being somewhat content with the team that wins the Grey Cup and absolutely apoplectic that “anyone but them” came away the champions. Ask Ticats fans about the Redblacks last year or any time the Riders have won the Grey Cup since the Bombers last won in 1990.
So if you happen to be a fan of the Lions, Alouettes or Tiger-Cats and are looking for a rooting interest in these CFL playoffs, I am here to help. Here are my likability rankings for the six teams in this year’s Grey Cup tournament.
Yeah, OK, Ticats fan bias likely has me putting the Redblacks last, but hear me out. Is there anything that remarkable or likeable about this team? There isn’t that one player you really want to see win a championship, they don’t have an old gunslinger heading towards his final duel, nor do they have a super compelling story outside of being the hosts, and we have recently seen three hosts win a Grey Cup on home soil, so it is not special anymore. The Redblacks lack that certain something. Also, they are the defending champions and hopping on the bandwagon of the team that won the year prior is just lame. And they have a hashtag on their pants and that deserves ridicule and derision from now until the end of time.
One person knocks the Esks down this low and it is Jason Maas. The Esks have a ton of players you can’t help but like, from tough-as-nails Mike Reilly to true-good-guy Adarius Bowman down to stalwart Calvin McCarty, but all of those good vibes go away because their head coach is a petulant man-baby who deserves nothing but terrible things to happen to him as a head coach. Just thinking of seeing Maas’ childish behaviour rewarded with a championship makes me want to throw a headset or cuss out one of my 3Down colleagues.
Calgary is similar to Ottawa in that cheering for them is lame because they are expected to win. Being a Stamps fan is fine and I envy their team’s success, but I can’t openly root for them and neither should you.
Also, as much as I think he is good for the league and he is a truly great player, Bo Levi Mitchell can come off a bit smug and that makes it more fun to cheer for him to lose (which does not happen often) than to win.
3. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Yeah, I’m surprised the Riders are this high, too. They may even be higher if Duron Carter wasn’t such a clown (although, like Mitchell, I think he is great for the league, but as a villain, not a hero) and Chris Jones wasn’t so dislikable, but seeing Kevin Glenn finally lift the Grey Cup would be enough to even swallow another Riders championship and listening to their insufferable fans gloat all off-season.
They haven’t won a championship in 27 years, and even though it means the jokes about longest drought will leave Winnipeg and head Hamilton’s way, it is not enough for me to wish the Bombers ill in their attempts to win their first Grey Cup since 1990. As a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan, I know the jubilation that comes with finally seeing your team break an insufferably long curse, so I truly hope Bombers fans can feel that joy sooner rather than later.
Coming it at No. 1 is, yes, the Toronto Argonauts. This really boils down to one man and that is Ricky Ray. He is almost the anti-Burris in that I think many will be rooting for the future Hall of Famer to possibly cap his career with one final championship in what could be his final season. No matter what colours he wears, everyone likes Ricky Ray and because of that the Toronto Argonauts come in as the most likeable team in this year’s CFL playoffs.