It is Christmastime and that means one thing.
Who doesn’t love getting a good gift from a loved one at Christmastime? I sure know I do.
CFL teams and their fans probably like getting Christmas gifts too, and after a year without CFL football to watch, we could all use a nice gift or two.
So without father ado, here comes Joshy Claus with a gift for each CFL team (and one bonus gift for all of us).
B.C. Lions: some stability
It has been a tumultuous year for the B.C. Lions, even by 2020 standards. They dealt with the loss of long-time owner David Braley when the CFL icon passed in October; they lost their GM when Ed Hervey stepped down in November; and they got into a bit of a row with their franchise QB, Mike Reilly.
It hasn’t been easy for the Black and Orange. So my gift to them is some stability, both in terms of ownership — preferably local — and in the front office, and on the field. The Lions, who fight for every inch of real estate in the B.C. sports landscape, need stability now more than ever.
Calgary Stampeders: a season of good health
Despite losing what felt like a billion players to injury in 2019 — including star QB Bo Levi Mitchell — the Stamps still found a way to finish second in the West Division. They didn’t win a playoff game for the first time in what felt like a century, but I assure you it wasn’t that long ago.
But for the league’s model franchise to remain the model franchise they need to get back to full health again. So for Stamps fans, who really have had it all over the last decade, I gift you a season free of major or catastrophic injury and then we can see if talk of the dynasty was premature or not.
Edmonton Football Team: a new name
We are done with the debate on should they or shouldn’t they — they definitely should have, for the record — because they did. Now it’s time to finally pick a new moniker for the Edmonton Football Team.
Much like their counterpart in Washington, Edmonton Football Team (or Club) is a decent name, but it seems we are down to a shortlist that includes Elk (or Elks) and Golden Eagles as the two front runners. Either is fine with me — unless they go with just Eagles because that’s lame — but it’s time for a name to be chosen, hence this gift.
Saskatchewan Roughriders: less obnoxious fans
I won’t sugar-coat this: Roughriders fans can be the worst. Yes, they are plentiful. Yes, they are loud. Yes, they are passionate. But no, they aren’t the “best fans.”
Put aside how subjective that even is and take it for what they really mean when they essentially say, “We are better than you.” They aren’t, and while a lot of Riders faithful are reasonable folks, the bad ones sometimes out-shout the calm ones. So my gift to Rider Nation is a little more humility and little less obnoxiousness.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers: more obnoxious fans
This is going to come off as hypocritical because of what I just wrote above, but I want to see Blue Bombers’ fans embrace the heel role they’ve been given since ending their 30-year Grey Cup championship drought. It is time to go full loudmouth.
Tell Rider Nation to shove their #1990 jokes. Tell Hamilton fans they get the crown now as the league’s longest losers. Shout scoreboard at the Stamps fans who want to talk junk. Just be as obnoxious as humanly possible. Believe me, as a guy who once stood on the 35-yard line at the SkyDome and yelled “GO TICATS!” into a mic in front of about 35,000 Argos fans, being the bad guy can be a lot of fun.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats: a Grey Cup championship (and a great Grey Cup Festival)
With the aforementioned crown being handed to the Ticats from the Bombers, let’s put an end to it as soon as possible. What better way to end the longest title drought in the league than by winning it all at home in the first Grey Cup hosted in Hamilton in a quarter century?
It would be a storybook ending and can you imagine how loud Tim Hortons Field would get if the hometown team put an end to two decades of misery by hoisting the Cup at home?
Also, for the city and the team, I gift them a Grey Cup Festival to rival all Grey Cup Festivals. Let’s show the country what Hamilton is all about by putting on the best party ever for everyone come November.
Toronto Argonauts: to trend in the right direction
Let’s face facts, the Argos are never going to be the darling of the Toronto sports landscape ever again. That ship, pardon the pun, has sailed.
But that doesn’t mean the Argos can’t build a competitive team and carve out their niche in the crowded Toronto entertainment scene. Stack some wins, make the playoffs and do it consistently, and perhaps those crowds of 13,000 will turn into 20,000-person crowds soon enough.
Ottawa Redblacks: a return to competitiveness
One of the most fun parts of this gig is smack-talking with other fans, especially when those fans are Redblacks fans. Hoo-boy do Redblacks fans not like when I talk about the Redblacks. But no, my gift to Ottawa isn’t to stop slagging the team.
My gift is that the Redblacks get back to being a decent club so the chirping can be fun. There is no fun to be had when one team in a rivalry is terrible. If both are bad, that’s fine, but the Ticats have built a title-contender and their little brother in the capital needs to do the same so these battles — and the junk-talking I engage in with their fan base — can at least mean something.
Otherwise it is just kicking a man when they are down, and even though I will relentless kick the Redblacks regardless of their record, it is just a wee bit more fun when they have the ability to kick back.
Montreal Alouettes: continued success
In 2019, the Alouettes finally looked to turn the corner. They have a solid head coach; new, committed owners; and a franchise-calibre QB to build around. That is the recipe for success in the CFL.
With that said, we have seen the Als think they found the right pieces only to slide back into the doldrums when their QB or head coach was a flash in the pan. Vernon Adams Jr. doesn’t feel like that, and neither does Khari Jones. So here’s hoping that the Als keep it up and can end what will soon be the league’s longest Grey Cup drought.
CFL fans as a whole: an actual season in 2021
All of the above is great, but none of it can happen if we don’t have a season in 2021. So for everyone, from players to fans to owners to concession workers to media to whomever needs it, my ultimate gift is that we get a 2021 season.
It sucked not having the CFL to watch in 2020, and I know I speak for all of us when I wish the real Santa Claus — not the imposter that I am — will give us the gift of real, actual CFL football in our stadiums and on our TVs in 2021.
Merry Christmas, everyone!