Points worth pondering after the B.C. Lions extracted their pound of sweat and prevailed 31-23 over the Edmonton Eskimos on a night where players and fans alike also must have lost at least a pound or two at the sauna otherwise known as B.C. Place Stadium:
It starts here: it was a predictable perspective given that they finally beat a quality divisional opponent and leaned on all three units to make it happen, but Travis Lulay again was able to both keep it real and potentially mark the occasion of what he hopes was a milestone moment for the Lions this season.
“It’s up to us what we do from here but you would hope you would look back at this date and say this is where we start to get it going, said the Lions quarterback after outlasting Edmonton counterpart Mike Reilly, thanks to a demonic defensive effort in the second half and a sparkplug punt return touchdown by Chris Rainey.
“It wasn’t the cleanest game, but a real gritty effort. An all-around team win; exactly what this team needed.”
Hard to argue anything the man said.
Lulay admitted he won’t be upset not to see Edmonton’s Almondo Sewell for a few weeks (“We call him The Juggernaut in our locker room,” said Lulay) as the clean sheet posted by the offensive line the last two weeks on the sack chart came to an abrupt end.
Based on a mere 40 yards rushing, Jeremiah Johnson shouldn’t feel worried he’d lost his job. B.C. also uncharacteristically made a special teams gaffe when they made a receiver out of Sewell extending a drive which led to a touchdown and an early 14-3 Edmonton lead.
Four turnovers and a pass rush that frustrated Reilly made up for any shortcomings, however. They likely have some injury concerns that need to be sorted. Wideout Ricky Collins didn’t finish because of a suspected hamstring issue, TSN reported, and centre Cody Husband battled Sewell despite suffering an apparent shoulder sprain.
Nonetheless, for the first time in weeks, the Lions can actually pay attention to the standings once again.
Many happy returns: Kevin Elliott made his home Lions debut a happy one but there’s a better story connected with his appearance in the lineup, though not the one which arose at the time he signed this spring.
Elliott was Lulay’s top target against Edmonton, getting eight balls thrown his way in his second game in the Lions lineup. When the fourth-year receiver made the roster in June, both he and the Lions went out of their way to refute reports Elliott paid his own way to get the opportunity at a mini-camp held by the club in late April.
Elliott said he is a byproduct of perseverance, but one of this own making. Elliott said he was told by his former agent he wasn’t going to get any CFL offers and should consider retirement, but ignored the advice and instead went to the Lions camp, where he stood out amid a group of rookie receiving hopefuls.
He’d surely like the chance to play against the CFL team that cut him for the first time two seasons ago when the Lions travel to face the Toronto Argonauts next weekend, and thinks his work against Edmonton will at the very least force Wally Buono to think about keeping him in the lineup.
“We could all feel the emotion,” Elliott said when asked about the change in momentum generated by the Lions. “We could feel we’re right there. Once we get over that hump it’s going to be a problem for a lot of teams,”
Honesty best policy: It’ll still be awhile before the definitive scouting report is written on Randy Ambrosie but what comes through every time he steps in front of a microphone is his endearing sense of honesty.
Another example came when the CFL commissioner took the witness stand on TSN 1040 prior to Thursday’s game when he faced a couple of high hard ones in the wake of the statement released this week by the CFL Players Association.
That statement suggested the union will be looking into recent actions taking by the commissioner to protect the rights of its members.
Ambrosie has been quick to act when players get into trouble this year. He told rival teams that Jerome Messam would not be allowed back into the league after being cut recently by Saskatchewan until his court proceedings had concluded. Messam has been charged with one count of voyeurism by Calgary police.
That case, plus others like the one involving Lions free agent signing Euclid Cummings, put the league in a position where they are vulnerable to accusations they are presuming guilt before innocence.
And the man in charge seemed genuine when he said that though each player’s case is being adjudicated separately, he’s not perfect and may not have it right.
“Do I feel like I get up in the morning and I’m omniscient; like I have some magical powers? No. I’m trying to do the best I can,” Ambrosie said. “Obviously we have a responsibility to communities. I’m the father of three daughters and I think about the standard they would hold their father accountable to and the way they want me to be responsible to women in society.
“All of those things weigh on me and at the end of the day I try to do the best thing I can.”
Ambrosie met before the game with CFLPA executive director Brian Ramsay in response to the union bulletin. The league is already setting the stage for what could be protracted discussions regarding a collective agreement that expires prior to training camp, and anything either side does now is a precursor for the give-and-take that will occur in earnest next year.
Of course, a visit to Vancouver also raises a wide variety of issues involving the Lions, starting with the announced attendance of 17,745 Thursday, which if nothing else proves folks around here are just as happy getting their Chad Brownlee country music fix at the Yale Saloon. As bad as the numbers were last season, not one crowd was announced as low as the one registered Thursday.
In addition to Ramsay, Ambrosie also met with at least one prospective buyer who remains interested in taking the Lions off the hands of David Braley, the owner who had admitted he should sell the club but has not taken the final step to do so.
When not mingling with the paying customer, and Ambrosie did make the rounds at Terry Fox Plaza, the commissioner also was forthright when asked about a league schedule that will have the Lions completing their three bye weeks before Labour Day.
Ambrosie pushed for the third bye week in the name of player safety but admits it hasn’t been universally acceptable.
“There are unintended consequences. We’re going to have to take that back in the off-season. The best solution is getting that 10th team,” he said.
“Some of the feedback from the players is that they don’t like (this year’s schedule). Some of the coaches don’t like this. There’s probably too many breaks. We got to look at this all over again. We made the right decision. The question is are we getting the wrong outcome?”