Three downs on the CFL on TSN: analyzing Week 18 television broadcasts

Courtesy: TSN

Thanksgiving is one of the best weekends of the year as it’s a holiday meant purely to celebrate friends, family, and food.

No presents, no candy to give out, no chocolate to find. Just get together and have a good time (or at least tolerate each other).

One way families have improved their odds of getting along is by throwing some sports on the TV. It’s generally a surefire way to avoid political conversations you don’t want to have.

With that in mind, the CFL offered up a full slate of games this past weekend, including the now traditional Thanksgiving Day game in Montreal.

Here are my thoughts on the CFL on TSN for Week 18.

First down

If you’ve read this space in the past, you know my thoughts on in-game interviews. More times than I can count, producers at TSN have decided it’s a good idea to bring people — be they new owners, former players, or halftime acts — into the broadcast booth to be interviewed during the game.

Needless to say, I hate pretty much all of these interviews. They generally go on for too long and are often interrupted by game-changing plays. Too often, the interview takes away from the game and the game takes away from the interview.

I know some at TSN disagree with me, and that’s fine. I also know I’m not alone, either.

You can understand my concern heading into this weekend as the Toronto Argonauts and Saskatchewan Roughriders were welcoming a number of former players to their games for historical celebrations. Add in the additional celebration of the life of George Reed in Regina and I thought for sure we’d see a parade of former players through the booth.

To TSN’s credit, we didn’t. On Friday and Saturday night, there were just three interviews done with former players on the broadcasts and they were conducted by the sideline reporter at field level, not in the booth. They were kept short and sweet — well, other than Damon Allen’s interview, but that was his fault as he had a lot to say — and were done after a play or two.

Did someone at TSN listen to the complaints from fans? I don’t know. Is this going to be the norm going forward? I sure hope so.

Second down

For the second week in a row, the schedule featured a marquee matchup. This time it was the two best teams in the West Division squaring off in Vancouver.

All week, the contest between the Blue Bombers and Lions was being dubbed “the game of the year.” A week after some took exception to Chad Kelly not starting for the Toronto Argonauts against Winnipeg, I expected all hands on deck for the next big game.

You can probably understand my surprise to have heard the voice of Farhan Lalji as the contest got underway. Rod Smith and Duane Forde worked the first half of the double-header between the Argos and Elks, so I expected to hear Dustin Nielson calling the much-anticipated late game.

This is meant as no disrespect to Lalji, as I understand he gets to work a couple of games per year in the play-by-play chair and does a pretty good job of it. However, it seemed like an odd game to give him the nod considering the circumstances. CBS would never leave Jim Nantz at home for a game between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

The game was a banger, and the average fan wouldn’t really care all that much, but it certainly wasn’t expected.

Third down

Given that it was Thanksgiving weekend, food played a major role in the broadcasts and it was Nielson who once again shocked us all with a horrific food take.

Pumpkin pie is delicious and this slander will not stand.

We also learned that Forde doesn’t like cold turkey, which I can kind of understand. Thinly-sliced deli meat is one thing but chunky, cold turkey doesn’t really do it for me either. It was also surprising to learn that Milt Stegall eats actual food on Thanksgiving and not just his normal diet, which would make even Justin Dunk look like a junk food addict.

The best line of the week came from Smith, though, and it wasn’t about food but perhaps what happens six to eight hour after a big meal. It came when Toronto registered a sack of Elks’ quarterback Tre Ford on Friday night.

“For the first time tonight, the Argos have a big sack of number two,” Smith proclaimed.

I’m not sure if this phrasing was intentional or not, but I hope it was. Either way, it was solid.

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.