3DownNation’s top 10 stories of 2022

Photo courtesy: CFL

2022 was the year that normalcy finally returned to the CFL.

A full 18-game season. No attendance limits in stadiums. A Grey Cup champion that wasn’t the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Finally, everything was as it is meant to be.

It was also a year defined by huge stories. The offseason was dominated by talk of changing to four downs, followed by a training camp player’s strike that threatened to derail the season. In Saskatchewan, Garrett Marino became the centre of controversy for his dirty hit on Jeremiah Masoli and alleged racist comments, while Cody Fajardo saw his time as starting quarterback come to an end. Elsewhere, the Stampeders and Lions got into a parking lot screaming match, former Bomber Chris Streveler had the “greatest preseason in NFL history,” and The Simpsons roasted the CFL.

3DownNation covered it all but none of those articles can claim to be among our top 10 most-read stories of 2022. Every year, our loyal readers let us know with their clicks and comments what topics they truly care about and this year’s list is an eclectic mix.

As we wait for the ball to drop at midnight tonight, let’s take a look back at the year that was through our most popular articles.

Photo: Larry MacDougal/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

10. ‘The writing’s on the wall’: Bo Levi Mitchell confirms he’s played his last game with Calgary Stampeders by John Hodge

2022 marked a changing of the guard in Cowtown, as the Stampeders benched future Hall of Famer Bo Levi Mitchell and made the switch to Jake Maier at quarterback. As a result, Mitchell’s future was the subject of considerable debate, particularly after Maier was pulled in the West Semi-Final and outplayed by his 32-year-old predecessor.

Any illusions that Bo would be sticking with the only franchise he’s ever known were put to bed immediately following that playoff loss, as Mitchell confirmed to the media that he had played his last snaps in red and white. Since then the speculation has shifted to his next destination — a topic of conversation that isn’t likely to dissipate over the next month and a half.

Photo: Arthur Ward/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

9. ‘This ain’t random, baby’: Grey Cup hero Chad Kelly reveals he was drug-tested following Argos’ win by 3Down Staff

With his famous uncle, big school pedigree and checkered past, Chad Kelly’s signing with the Toronto Argonauts was accompanied by plenty of fanfare and the typical promises of stardom. Most of those storylines disappeared after he settled into the backup role behind McLeod Bethel-Thompson, only to resurface with a vengeance after Kelly came off the bench to help the Argos win the Grey Cup.

The late-game heroics caught the attention of the CFL’s random drug tester — as well as some American sports media heavy hitters. Kelly appeared on Barstool Sports’ massively popular Pardon My Take podcast and had the hosts outraged when he revealed his alcohol intake out of the Grey Cup chalice had to be significantly delayed due to a urine sample.

Photo: AP/David Zalubowski

8. Calgary Stampeders’ receiver Brendan Langley arrested, charged with simple assault by 3Down Staff

When TMZ is breaking a story about a CFL player, chances are that the details are pretty salacious. That was the case for receiver Brendan Langley, who introduced himself to Stampeders fans by getting arrested for a fistfight with a United Airlines employee on the way to training camp.

Calgary indefinitely suspended the former NFL third-round pick for his actions, though he later had all charges dismissed after it was determined that his use of force was reasonable. Langley never came north in 2022 but remains under contract with the Stamps.

Photo: David Mahussier/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

7. Bombers make quarterback Zach Collaros the CFL’s highest-paid player by Justin Dunk

This headline could have been used twice over in 2022, but it was Collaros’ first deal signed back in January that earns a spot on our year-in-review top 10 list. That’s when the Bombers inked their quarterback to a one-year extension worth $550,000 — a $125,000 raise over the 2021 season.

Collaros rewarded his employer by throwing for a career-high 4,183 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions on his way to a second consecutive Most Outstanding Player award. That earned him another extension in October, this time for three years and $1.8 million.

Photo courtesy: Paul Yates/B.C. Lions

6. ‘Enjoy him while he’s here’: Stampeders’ Bo Levi Mitchell believes Canadian sensation Nathan Rourke is the real deal by 3Down Staff

The emergence of Canadian quarterback Nathan Rourke with the B.C. Lions was the top storyline in the CFL this past year, but his only appearance on this list comes courtesy of another legendary gunslinger.

Bo Levi Mitchell pegged Rourke as more than just a flash in the pan ahead of their first meeting in Week 10, then watched the youngster throw for a Canadian record 488 yards in a come-from-behind 41-40 victory over his Stampeders. Many fans were in denial about Rourke’s impending departure at the time but Mitchell’s prediction will be proven true early in the New Year, with multiple NFL offers already reportedly on the table for the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian.

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Jim Mone

5. ‘The NFL wants to avoid admitting Canadian football has a better idea’: Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant believes NFL should adopt Canadian return rules by 3Down Staff

CFL fans love nothing more than when a living legend gives our unique game some kudos — particularly when it involves taking a shot at the NFL in the process. That’s what Bud Grant, the Hall of Fame head coach of both the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Minnesota Vikings, did this year while citing his grievances with the American version of special teams.

At 95 years old, Grant is still a huge advocate for Canadian football and believes that the NFL should introduce the ‘no-yards’ rule to bring entertainment value back to the return game. That’s an idea most football fans can get behind.

Photo: Paul Swanson/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

4. Edmonton Elks’ returner Christian Saulsberry passes away at age 25 by 3Down Staff

Every year, there are stories that we wish we didn’t have to write. That was the case earlier this month when promising young returner Christian Saulsberry was shot dead in Memphis, Tennessee at the age of 25.

In eight games, Saulsberry recorded 19 punt returns for 235 yards, 34 kickoff returns for 635 yards, three missed field goal returns for 78 yards, one carry for seven yards, and one reception for 17 yards. His passing rocked the entire CFL and he will be deeply missed.

Photo: David Mahussier/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

3. CFL’s quarterback salaries for 2022 season by Justin Dunk

They say that money talks, but it also reads. Or rather it draws a considerable amount of readers when you write about it.

3DownNation was the go-to place to get CFL salary information in 2022 and we gave you the inside scoop on what the highest-paid players at every single position were making this year. However, none of those rankings came close to eclipsing the amount of interest we received for our financial breakdown of the league’s quarterbacks.

Photo courtesy: Winnipeg Jets

2. Longtime sideline reporter Sara Orlesky departs CFL on TSN for role with Winnipeg Jets by 3Down Staff

CFL fans love their football, but they also love the broadcasters and journalists that deliver the league to them on a daily basis. That was never more evident than the outpouring of support that accompanied Sara Orlesky stepping away from her role at TSN.

After more than a decade of quality coverage and 13 straight Grey Cup appearances, Orlesky was as much a part of the CFL experience as the players and coaches. She will be missed by viewers across the country, though those in Winnipeg can expect to encounter her watching from the stands from now on.

Photo courtesy: CFL.ca

1. Why I don’t care about the Grey Cup halftime show announcement (and you shouldn’t either) by Ryan Ballantine

The delayed announcement of the Grey Cup halftime show act got quite a few people talking online including our own Joel Gasson, who penned a scathing critique of the league. What no one could have predicted is that it would be Ryan Ballantine’s rebuttal pointing out the meaninglessness of the whole exercise that would become our most-read article of the year by a wide margin.

It seems that most hardcore CFL fans shared Ballantine’s ambivalence about the championship game interlude, which ultimately ended up being the country trio of Tyler Hubbard, Jordan Davis and Josh Ross. The event went off without a hitch despite the late reveal and Grey Cup viewership saw an uptick, proving our Calgary columnist right.