There’s one thing the Saskatchewan Roughriders nailed on Saturday night against the Montreal Alouettes: their support of #HumboldtStrong.
By now, everyone knows the story so I don’t need to go over it again. It’s a tragedy that will be felt in Saskatchewan and Canada for decades to come. Since the horrific incident, the Humboldt Broncos players, coaches and team personnel lost in and affected by the crash have been honoured and supported all over North America.
This weekend, Saskatchewan’s biggest stage took their turn and deserves nothing but the highest of marks.
It started with the Riders working with their suppliers to produce #HumboldtStrong merchandise with all proceeds going to the families. A large line went on sale at the Rider Store on Saturday morning and I’m sure will sell out if it hasn’t already.
All week, the Riders made sure to let everyone know that the ceremony for the day would start soon after 6:45 p.m. The video featuring Broncos president Kevin Garinger talking about the support they’ve received from all over the world and right here in Saskatchewan was simply outstanding. How Garinger has been able to remain so well spoken and stoic throughout these last few months is nothing short of remarkable. Garinger talked about the support the team and community has received from the NHL, the NHLPA, the province, Canada, and also the Roughriders. The Riders have pledged to be there for the team and community not just while everything is still fresh in our minds but for years to come. There’s absolutely no reason to believe that won’t happen.
Family, friends and first responders at the scene held the Canadian, Saskatchewan and Roughriders flags on the field before the game. Players and team personnel who were able walked onto the field did, those who couldn’t watched and were recognized from what the team called “champion’s deck.”
It was the little details that took the night over the top.
Humboldt Strong was plastered all over the stadium. Ribbons were placed at all of the 29-yard lines in honour of those lost. Pin-on ribbons were given to everyone who entered the building. Naaman Roosevelt wore cleats with Humboldt Strong on them (the CFL better not fine him for that.) Gainer wore a Broncos jersey. The ribbon was added to the 13th Man flag that gets unravelled before the start of the game. Eddie Steele ran out of the tunnel with a Humboldt Strong flag. The Alouettes brought a similar flag to mid-field for the coin toss, which was actually a puck toss featuring the team logo and the Humdoldt Strong logo. There was a fly-over pre-game by STARS air ambulance.
Mother nature even got into the act with a rainbow over the stadium early in the game.
A lot went wrong for the Riders against the Als, but they got the most important part right.
Football is just a game and sometimes we need that reminder. That happened on Saturday night.