The biggest play of the 108th Grey Cup may have been its most innocuous.
After the Winnipeg Blue Bombers marched the field to kick a go-ahead field goal with less than two minutes left, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats needed only a field goal to win the game and walk away with their first Grey Cup trophy since 1999. Instead, returner Tim White took a knee in the end zone and conceded a single, making it a three-point contest.
The Ticats did march the field to tie the game, but Michael Domagala’s chip shot field goal could have been the winner instead of forcing overtime. As a result of the single, the Bombers got a chance to complete their comeback in overtime.
The decision to take a knee has been hotly debated by fans ever since, but not so in the Ticats organization. Head coach Orlondo Steinauer said White was told he could choose to take a knee and that he did not regret the decision post-game, something that special teams coordinator Jeff Reinebold echoed in a Rod Pedersen Show appearance.
“We are in lockstep on everything in our organization,” the fan favourite CFL personality said, dismissing any controversy.
“This is what happens in huge football games and in every football game, but they’re multiplied when you get into huge games. Every decision, every play takes on magnitude and we can sit afterwards with hindsight and you can say: ‘Well, you should have done this and you should have done that.’ I don’t think that’s fair.”
It wouldn’t be the first time that coaches have defended a questionable decision after a loss, but Steinauer and Reinebold had at least one passionate defender post-game. Grey Cup-winning head coach Mike O’Shea called the move a ‘smart decision’ at the podium and took time from his celebration to chastise the media for their critiques, something Reinebold appreciated.
“I think Mike really was a voice of reason. I mean, here’s the guy that won the game and he comes out and says: ‘Yeah, I think Orlondo made the right decision in that case,'” Reinebold said. “He wasn’t doing that to protect Orlondo, he was doing it because he is answering the question honestly.”
O’Shea’s arguments concerning field position and wind conditions sold very few Ticats fans on the strategy that they saw deny their team a one-point drought-breaking victory at home, but Reinebold doesn’t care. Only those who have held a play-sheet can comprehend the nature of those decisions and what goes into them.
“It’s really hard for anybody who’s not in those situations to really understand it, all of the things that you take into consideration as you’re making those decisions,” he dismissed.
”Criticism comes with the territory and Orlondo’s addressed it. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s on to the first game and training camp in 2022.”