Reviewing Episode One of Behind the R

Screengrab courtesy: Ottawa Redblacks

With the second episode of Behind the R — the Ottawa Redblacks’ new behind-the-scenes video series — set to drop Saturday, now is a good time to review the initial episode.

The series itself is the brainchild of Josh O’Connor, a video dude and content creator for OSEG.

Despite the first episode only being eight minutes long, fan reaction was strong, and justifiably so. To borrow a football analogy, O’Connor took it to the house. The editing is top notch, the music fits perfectly, the cuts are sharp. Hell, even the intro is enough to get the juices of a casual member of R-Nation flowing.

Much like the F1 show Drive to Survive, Behind the R gives R-Nation a peek behind the curtain to show exactly what goes down in the team’s front office.

It’s compelling to see the faces behind the scenes. As much as the CFL is the most accessible league in North America in terms of fans having access to players, it’s quite rare to hear directly from the men pulling the strings in the front office. That’s not to say they’re invisible, of course there’s occasional radio interviews and whatnot, but rarely do we have an unfiltered look at their process.

Episode One focuses entirely on the hiring of Shawn Burke as general manger.

Hearing OSEG president and CEO Mark Goudie talk about the race to hire a general manager, while also competing to avoid their top target being snatched by the Edmonton Elks, is fascinating. You get a sense of how tricky it was for the Redblacks to get the right guy, quickly, without skipping the due diligence aspect.

Seeing actual footage from the Zoom interview between Goudie, Roger Greenberg (managing partner, executive chair), Adrian Sciarra’s (senior vice president, sports business operations) and Burke is great. The viewer can’t help but feel drawn into the intimate setting.

Side note, of the four, I feel confident in stating only Sciarra’s set-up would earn a 10/10 from Room Rater thanks to the framed jerseys, inaugural home game ticket and strategically placed plant and soccer ball.

Hearing — and seeing — Goudie call Burke to tell him he’s hired, but starting off with “Shawn, I’ve got some bad news” only to follow it up with “I think we’re going to try and make half the clothes in your wardrobe obsolete, and turn it into red and black” is an excellent way to show off his personality.

Fans don’t want the people working for the teams they cheer for to be nameless faces. They want stories, and the connections that come from their sharing.

Part of the reason why OSEG has been so successful since bringing football back to the nation’s capital since 2014 is that they understand that fans want access. Providing it to them in the form of this type of content is simply good business.

It’s somewhat interesting that this series isn’t a league-led initiative but rather one being taken up by an individual team. Hopefully the Redblacks can be trend-setters and other organizations are inspired to create their own types of behind-the-scenes series. That kind of thing would go a long way towards helping the league stay relevant in the off-season. 

Although Episode One was a tantalizing tease coming in at just under eight minutes, it quickly sucks you in and leaves you wanting more.

So be sure to check back here for a full review of Episode Two, which comes out Saturday, on the Redblacks’ Youtube channel.

Santino Filoso is originally from Ottawa and has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know).