‘It’s tough to find people who are supporting the team’: TSN play-by-play man Dustin Nielson believes a loss to Redblacks would be ‘final straw’ for Elks’ fan base

Photo courtesy: TSN

The Edmonton Elks are in must-win mode when it comes to their playoff hopes but their upcoming home-and-home series with the Ottawa Redblacks could have much larger ramifications.

“If they lose at home to the Redblacks in a couple of weeks, I mean, there’s already a lot of people who’ve obviously given up on the team this year, but that might be the final straw for a few of the hardcores,” CFL on TSN play-by-play man and Edmonton radio host Dustin Nielson told his colleagues on TSN 1200’s The Drive this week.

“Bottom line is, right now the Elks have more wins than the Redblacks. That’s how a lot of people here view it. The Elks are playing in the West, it’s a lot more difficult there too and I think they’re 2-0 against the East so far this year.”

Should that illusion of superiority be shattered in the next two weeks, the Elks could suffer greatly at the box office. The franchise has been the worst in the CFL when it comes to winning on home soil, as Edmonton has absorbed 12 straight losses at Commonwealth Stadium and will have gone 1,051 days between home victories when they host the Redblacks on August 27.

Ottawa is equally horrific at home, having lost 18 of their past 19 at TD Place. However, the 1-7 Redblacks have managed to retain strong fan support through their skid and few would see a loss on Friday as a potential turning point. The 2-7 Elks, meanwhile, have suffered greatly with attendance declining and many season-ticket holders simply not bothering to show up for games.

“You know how it is in Edmonton, man. It’s tough right now to find people who are supporting the team, whether from the fact you haven’t won at home or they’re still bitter about the name change,” Nielson said. “Some people just look at the roster and go, ‘Well, why would we be coming out to watch these games right now?'”

A win on the road in the nation’s capital could help to change the losing narrative around the team but nothing will matter until the Elks prove they can take care of business with their own supporters in attendance. That is something they’ve failed to do when given the chance in 2022.

“They’ve had some shots, they’ve had some chances to do it. They weren’t awful in his last game against the Riders,” Nielson noted, referencing the team’s 34-23 loss in Week 10. “There’s been multiple times this season where they’ve had leads in the fourth quarter and have just completely let it slip away.”

With a crossover playoff virtually assured, the Elks remain in contention and will have five more opportunities to prove their merit at home before the season is over.

All that might become irrelevant if they can’t carve out a semblance of respectability in their meetings with Ottawa, something that may not be as easy as many might assume.

“It’s weird because they’re both at the bottom standings right now but I actually think these are going to be two pretty close football games,” Nielson remarked. “Let’s say that. I don’t know if we can describe them as well-played football games because I don’t know if the Elks have played many games this year that I would describe as that.”