Lucky 13: The most popular 3DownNation stories of 2016

With 2016 on it’s way out, let’s take a look at the most popular 13 stories from 3DownNation this year. The ranking is based strictly on page views.

1. A CFL player speaks out: the league is taking advantage of us

In the wake of Henoc Muamba’s release from the Montreal Alouettes, an anonymous CFL players outlines what he believes to be the inherent inequality in the CFL’s current economic system.

Quote: Without revenue sharing or a salary cap tied to league revenues – the CFL owners won’t disclose their financials to the CFL Player’s Association – it will be impossible for players to be fairly compensated. Instead, the CBA and the cap will always be structured so the weakest franchises have a hope of making money and players will bear the brunt of that.

2. What Joe McKnight’s death says about Canada and the CFL

After the tragic shooting death of Saskatchewan Roughriders running back Joe McKnight in a New Orleans street, 3DownNation editor Drew Edwards looks at the issues facing American players living part-time in Canada.

Quote: Last winter, I did a story on an American player who had decided to stay in Canada over the off-season. There were a number of reasons why but this was the poignant one.

“I feel safer here. When I go back to the U.S. I always have to give a glance over my shoulder. I’m not saying that you don’t have racism in this country but I don’t feel like a black man here. I just feel like a man.”

3. CFL admits it made mistakes on two ‘close calls’ in Ticats playoff loss to Esks

A few days after the Hamilton Tiger-Cats fell 24-21 to the Edmonton Eskimos in the East Semi-Final, CFL vice president of football Glen Johnson acknowledged that officials made two mistakes on a key play late in the game.

Quote: “It was extremely close but when we go through it, we compare it to other ones we’ve called this season and I would have preferred that it would have been ruled differently,” Johnson said. “At the time, the replay official didn’t believe the hit was late but when we go back and look at the variety of different angles it’s clear that it’s within the tolerance we have for being called based on our video standards.”

4. Calgary quarterback accuses Riders of cheating

When Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell sent out a 10-word Tweet on Aug. 9, he set off a chain of events that would eventually see the Saskatchewan Roughriders fined for “practicing with ineligible players.” As if Riders fans didn’t hate him enough already…

Quote: Mitchell seems to be insinuating that the Riders have players practicing with the club that aren’t on the roster. Teams are limited to a 46-man active roster and a ten player practice roster. Players on the one-game injured list can practice as well.

5. Chris Jones to Dave Dickenson after Stamps victory: “Win with some class.”

Four days after Mitchell’s Tweet, the Stampeders beat the Riders 19-10 in Regina, sparking a post-game spat between Saskatchewan head coach Chris Jones and his Calgary counterpart Dave Dickenson.

Quote: Jones clearly says “Win with some class.” And sources have confirmed that’s exactly what the 48-year-old coach said.

6. Montreal receiver Duron Carter called the “Worst. Teammate. Ever.”

Carter was involved in two high-profile controversies this season, first bumping Redblack’s head coach Rick Campbell during a June game, then getting involved in a practice confrontation with quarterback Rakeem Cato in September. After the second incident, 3DownNation’s Justin Dunk spoke to sources across the league about Carter’s behaviour.

Quote:“It could have come to fisticuffs. It was a blow up of disrespect. You don’t talk to coaches or players that way. You don’t be disrespectful. That’s where I ended up stepping in,” then-Alouettes head coach, Tom Higgins says. “You’re dealing with professional athletes and then you’re critiquing professional athletes, and sometimes they take it too harshly. Be a man about it because somebody has to have a final say.”

7. Relationship between Riders and Shawn Lemon has soured

Dunk had the scoopage as things went south between Saskatchewan and one of their high-profile free agent signings. Lemon denied the report on Twitter but was traded to Toronto less than a week later. Of course, he was also an East all-star and recently signed a contract extension with the Argos.

Quote: Lemon is listed third on the depth chart for Thursday’s season-opener against Toronto and some say he could be scratched from the game day roster. Sources say there is friction between Lemon and the coaching staff led by new vice president of football operations and head coach Chris Jones. “Trouble in paradise. Probably not a Chris Jones guy,” said one CFL personnel man. “They dangled him more than a week ago.”

8. Star NCAA QB Everett Golson signs with Ticats

This may seem like a bit of a strange one until you remember where Golson played his college football: football-mad Notre Dame. Fans of the Fighting Irish were keen to find out what was happening with their former quarterback.

Quote: As a redshirt freshman, Golson helped guide the Fighting Irish to the BCS National Championship Game. He threw for 2,405 yards 12 touchdowns and six interceptions while rushing for 298 yards and six touchdowns that season. However, Notre Dame lost to Alabama 42-14 in the title game.

9. CFL punts Dunk, Pedersen from website

The league’s decision to part ways with reporter Justin Dunk and Saskatchewan Roughriders radio personality Rod Pedersen caused quite a stir as many fans slammed the CFL for dumping one of the best young reporters in the game as well as the popular Pedersen.

Quote: While CFL’s decision is understandable on some level, the decision to purge a well-respected insider and a popular commentator is an indication that it’s only interested in fluffy, good news pieces while avoiding potentially newsworthy or controversial issues the league and teams may be facing. It certainly sends a message to other contributors employed by the site that there could be consequences for coverage that could be perceived as critical. Other North American professional sports leagues, including the NFL, NHL and MLB, employ professional journalists and commentators to cover the league with a significant degree of independence.

10. CFL admits it blew replay call in Ticats loss to Redblacks

The second replay controversy to make our list, this one also involved the Ticats. With just under seven minutes left to play and the Ticats leading by a single point, Ottawa receiver Greg Ellingson made what looked to be a catch over the middle, the ball popping loose as he went to the ground. The Ticats challenged, alleging the Ottawa receiver fumbled the football. Instead, the command centre ruled the pass incomplete. On the next play, the Redblacks kicked a field goal and led by two with just over five minutes to play.

Quote: “The Replay Official should not have ruled the pass incomplete last night on the Replay Review,” Johnson said. “It was a catch.”

11. CFL video game getting closer to reality

3DownNation contributor Santino Filoso’s look at a Canadian football game currently in development attracted the interest of CFL fans desperate for a digital offering. In October, the CFL announced a partnership with EA Sports to have CFL elements included in their Madden Mobile football game.

Quote: And there’s the catch. Because, while discussions have taken place, at the moment, Canuck Play does not have a licensing agreement with the CFL itself. Furthermore, Canuck Play has yet to speak with the CFLPA, who would also need to be consulted.

12. $30 Pizza deal includes free Grey Cup tix

Would you like free Grey Cup tickets with that? An “unauthorized promotion” by more than a dozen Pizza Pizza locations across Hamilton included two free tickets to the CFL championship game in Toronto as part of a pizza and wings deal. It was the last in a long line of stories about ticket pricing and giveaways that plagued the game.

Quote; It’s just the latest sign that ticket sales for Sunday’s championship between the Ottawa Redblacks and the Calgary Stampeders aren’t going well. With 16 Hamilton stores offering 15 pairs of tickets, that’s nearly 500 tickets to the 35,000 seat BMO Field essentially being given away for free.

13. After helping so many others, Miles family in need of support

The column from 3DownNation contributor Arash Madani about the relationship between former teammates Barron Miles and Anthony Calvillo as Miles’ wife battled a difficult medical condition was a powerful reminder on the close-knit nature of the CFL. The GoFund campaign ultimately surpassed its goal.

Quote: The Calvillo’s know how huge even the smallest gestures in a time of need can be. Nearly a decade after Jennifer Miles showed up out of the blue on their doorstep, just to be there, just to remind them to smile, just to lend a hand, it’s Anthony now trying to help his friends in their time of need. The league’s greatest quarterback ever is now happy to hear that the GoFund page is closer to its fundraising goal. He knows it’s only the start to getting their friend Jen better. He’s trying to get the word out, too.

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