Football, not unlike life itself, is not always fair. Eskimo quarterback Matt Nichols might be the poster child for unfairness.
The 6th year vet who has fought back twice from season ending injuries and to this point gamely filled the void left by the injury to Mike Reilly. Coming into Saturday’s game against Winnipeg, an unblemished 2 – 0 as a starter this season, undefeated in 3 straight if you roll in last years’ playoff game. He may not be Esks Nation’s first choice but he put up Ws.
With a much needed prarie summer storm lashing Commonwealth Stadium, the Eskimos and Bombers slogged through a first half that be charitably described as ‘excruciating’. Still, when the gun went Nichols & Co. were leading 4 – 3 and he’d put up decent numbers and no interceptions. As putrid as the first half was, it did not appear as if a quarterback change was the first thing on Chris Jones’ to do list.
But Jones, who learned from the master, Don Matthews that doing the safe thing is boring and well, too safe. He could have stayed with Nichols and hoped that the offence would collectively get their act together, but he’d clearly seen enough.
James Franklin, the training camp ‘it boy’, came off the bench and in short order created the dreaded, but oh so entertaining, quarterback controversy. The uncommonly poised rookie threw three touchdowns and made it look fairly effortless.
We can only presume Nichols is peeved at the turn of events and he should be. He sprinted from the field after the game while Franklin was surrounded by cameras. For a guy playing to earn the trust of his coach, teammates and a job next year, Nichols did what was asked: win games. Sadly, for him, it likely wasn’t good enough.