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Re-learning the CFL rulebook

September 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Not to sound like I’m making wine with sour grapes…but…last night’s game between the Calgary Stampeders and the BC Lions at McMahon Stadium was, in my humble opinion, not decided by the players.  The referees seemed determined to ensure the home team walked away with the victory.  The interpretation of certain plays by the officials were, at times, laughable and were all in favour of the Stampeders.  Some of the calls the refs made were extremely creative.

Where to start?  Let’s start with the one that seemed to confuse every objective football fan who thinks they know something about the rules of the game, including the TSN play-by-play team of Chris Cuthbert and former CFL star Glen Suitor.  Yes, I am referring to the Nick Lewis “catch” on the 3 yard line with the game tied at 17.  Calgary Stampeders receiver Nick Lewis leapt into the air to catch a Henry Burris pass and was hit while in mid-air by a Lions defender.  Upon coming back to the ground the ball popped out of his grasp and into the hands of Lions safety Barron Miles before hitting the ground.  So, as a former football player, and long -time football fan, I celebrated what appeared to be either a Lions interception or fumble recovery…depending on wether the officials would rule it as an incompletion which was intercepted at it had never hit the ground, or a fumble recovery as the receiver did not survive contact with the ground as clearly stated in the CFL rule book.

The game officials, who set a new standard in incompetency time and time again throughout the game, upon reviewing the play when challenged by Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel, ruled that Nick Lewis had not only caught the ball, but survived contact with the ground, did not fumble the ball, and was ruled down by contact.  This took some serious creativity to come up with an explanation that favoured the Stamps.  There is no way that he was down by contact as the only part of his body that hit the ground after contact was his elbow which caused the ball to come loose, thus, by definition, resulting in Lewis not surviving contact with the ground.  The officials explaanation was inherently self contradicting.  Oh well, no matter…this is the CFL after all…logic, reason and the rulebook should not come into deciding a key play in the game.

On the ensuing play, Henry Burris threw a pass to Jermaine Copeland in the endzone.  Copeland stretched out to make an athletic catch mere inches from the ground hanging out of bounds but with both feet in bounds.  The problem?  His knee was touching the out of bounds line.  No problem says the ref.  After reviewing the play challenged by Lions head coach Wally Buono the head referee declared that the TD would stand because Copeland did in fact have both feet in bounds.  Of course, that was never the question…Buono challenged wether his knee was out of bounds before the catch…which it was.   But that is neither here nor there.

Later in the game, yet another controversial catch by another Stamps receiver saw a catch made in mid-air and the receiver falling to the ground when a Lions DB would strip the ball from the receiver.  Fumble!  BC recovers, right?  No…this is the CFL…and the refs were determined to not allow all of their previous hard work to go to waste.  After another Wally Buono challenge, the referee declared that the Calgary receiver was, again, down by contact.  But…what contact?  The replay clearly showed the Stampeder receiver fell to the ground on his own and was never touched…the only contact coming on the stripping of the football.  Again….Wally Buono was wrong!  I wonder how he became the CFL’s all-time winningest coach…clearly (at least in the referrees minds) this man has no clue about the rules of this game despite having played and coached in the league at the highest level for decades.’

There were several other, albeit smaller, descrepancies throughout the game all of which favoured Calgary.  Holding only called when BC did it, roughing the passer only called once on a borderline soft call against the Lions despite Buck Pierce taking multiple Stampeder head shots, pass interference called only one way, etc.   I know being a ref is hard.  I know they are human and make mistakes…but when there are that many mistakes?  and they ALL favour the same team?  it leaves on to wonder.

It is a shame, really.  There are so many great athletes and coaches in the CFL.  The style of play leads to an exciting brand of football as well…its just too bad the standard of officiating is dismal and greatly affects the outcome of the game again, and again.

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Printers back in Lions’ den?

September 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Well, it appears the Casey Printers/BC lions drama has come full circle.  Fresh off a win over the Toronto Argonauts at BC Place Saturday which made him the CFL’s all-time winningest coach, Wally Buono has confirmed that he has had talks with former Lions QB and CFL Outstanding Player Casey Printers.

It is something that most thought would never happen, but with Jarius Jackson out for at least a month and Buck Pierce still not 100% from multiple concussions and what appears to be a rib injury suffered on Saturday, the Lions could very well be faced with the possibility of trying to resurrect the season and make the playoffs at the hand of one of two young and inexperienced QBs: first year Travis Lulay, or second year Zac Champion.  This is not something Coach Buono would like to have to deal with. Therefore, a call to his former starter, and controversial character Casey Printers was made.  Printers, though out of the game since his failed attempt at a CFL comeback with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, knows Buono’s system.  Without the luxury of a training camp to bring a QB up to speed on the offensive scheme, Printers seems like the logical choice.

Can the two put their past differences behind them and get the Lions back into playoff contention?  The next few weeks should be quite interesting.  After all, Casey Printers’ career has been nothing if not interesting.