CFL had ‘thoughts to suspend’ Eskimos, Bombers marathon game

The Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers opened the 2018 CFL season playing what turned into the longest continuous game in CFL history because of a storm.

The game took five hours 40 minutes after lightning caused two delays in the second quarter, one for 84 minutes and a second for 94 minutes.

Bombers rookie quarterback Chris Streveler had his mom, sister, dad and his dad’s girlfriend up from Illinois to watch the game, which was also the second-longest one in CFL history after the 1962 Grey Cup. That championship was suspended because of thick fog and finished the next day.

“They stayed for the whole game,” Streveler said with a smile. “I don’t know how many opportunities they’re going to get to come up and watch me.”

Players had mixed views on whether the game should have been stopped, veteran receiver Adarius Bowman said.

“You kind of get started, I’d rather finish,” he said. “But once it went that length, you start thinking other things, but I think finishing is the best thing to do.”

Head coach Mike O’Shea talked to the team’s trainer during the delays and was confident they could warm up properly.

The game was almost suspended, said Ryan Janzen, the CFL’s senior director of football operations.

“Following two lengthy weather delays, with player and fan safety top priority, there were thoughts to suspend the game,” he said in an email to The Canadian Press Monday.

“During the second delay after meeting with the commissioner, team presidents, officials and the league’s weather-service provider, it was determined that weather band would pass and (we) had a very good opportunity to complete the game.

“If another weather system were to come following the second delay, there was a chance that the game would be suspended.”

Weather software is used that gives an alert if there’s a lightning strike 17 kilometres from a stadium, he said. If an alert comes in, the league’s meteorologist is called for analysis of the storm and whether it’s tracking toward the stadium. It’s the meteorologist who advises whether play should stop.

“In regards to wet conditions and playing so late, it’s a concern, but we work with each team’s president, who often gets updates from their head coach and general manager,” Janzen said.

“When it comes to suspending the game, it ultimately comes down to the commissioner’s discretion, along with the team presidents.”

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