3 DOWN NATION
THE WEEK THAT WAS AND WILL BE
The initial frenzy of free agency may have died down but it has still been an interesting week in the CFL.
THE MOST SIGNIFICANT news came out of Toronto last Wednesday when it was first reported that Jim Popp had become the leading candidate for the Argonauts’
vacant general manager job. The former Alouettes GM was photographed watching the Toronto Maple Leafs game with Larry Tanenbaum, the chair of Maple Leafs Sports And Entertainment, which not only owns the Leafs but has a stake in the Argos as well. By Friday, 3DownNation had confirmed that not only was Popp on the way, but he would be joined by head coach Marc Trestman, who was with Popp in Montreal. 3Down columnist Arash Madani offered his take on Twitter. “Hyperbole show will be on for Popp + Trestman unveiling. Reality: could’ve had both in Nov. and not been behind 3+ months after 5-13 season,” he wrote. “From start of search, Argos CEO Michael Copeland told confidants he didn’t want Jim Popp. Turns out, it was his only way to land Trestman.”
THERE WERE ALSO a couple of notable trades. Calgary dealt longtime backup quarterback Drew Tate to the Redblacks for draft picks while the Ticats sent veteran offensive lineman Brian Simmons to the Alouettes for Ethan Davis. 3Down contributor Ian Busby, who covered the Stamps for almost a decade, said there are some concerns about Tate’s compete level at this stage of his career. “You probably won’t get anyone from the organization to admit it, but the question is there: Does Tate have the extreme desire to compete anymore?” Busby wrote.
THE PASSING of Ticats legend and football pioneer Bernie Custis was undeniably sad but also gave readers the chance to re-acquaint themselves with his remarkable accomplishments on and off the field. Over the weekend, 3DownNation editor Drew Edwards wrote Custis’ legacy should not be forgotten. “We need to find a way to honour Bernie Custis. Whether it’s the city of Hamilton, the Hamilton TigerCats or the Canadian Football League — or all three — his legacy and contributions need to be preserved in a meaningful way. Several people have suggested the team retiring his No. 99. Others like the idea of a Bernie Custis Secondary School. There should certainly be some place in Tim Hortons Field where fans and visitors can read about his legacy.”
THE RETIREMENT of veteran offensive lineman Chris Best was the big news in Saskatchewan last week and contributor Joel Gasson said his departure, while expected, creates a problem for the Riders. “It’s not an easy hole to fill. Even though Best has had bad hips since 2009, there was a noticeable difference in the Riders line play when he was in the line-up compared to when he wasn’t,” Gasson wrote.
“Sure, no one is rushing for 1,500 yards in the CFL anymore thanks to some rule changes but you still need to be able to run the ball.”
FINALLY, SUNDAY was Oscar night and to celebrate, John Smith paired up the nine Best Picture nominees with the nine CFL teams. His comparison of the Grey Cup champion Ottawa Redblacks and the almost-Oscar winner “LaLa Land.” “‘La La Land’ is not the best movie of 2016, it is kind of overrated and its leads are really unlikeable characters. “Let’s face it, while Ottawa won the Grey Cup, they have to rank as one of the least deserving champions in CFL history,” Smith wrote. “They finished under .500 with an 8-9-1 record, won a weak division and got hot at the right time. “They, just like ‘La La Land,’ had a lead (Henry Burris) who is only liked by a small segment of people.” This week, be sure to check out our ongoing coverage of the changes in Toronto, the 3DowNation podcast and a Saturday feature on the issues facing CFL players as they make the transition to retirement.