A Monday morning smorgas-bored coming down in 3, 2, 1…and it’s the Ides of March, the day Julius Caesar was slain, so here’s something else that might slay you…
Except instead of newspaper taxis, cellophane flowers, marmalade skies, and rocking horse people eating marshmallow pies, I saw Mad Dogs and Pirates and Gold Miners and Glieberguys and football players bunked down in a barn and a Vegas lounge lizard.
Oh, and a Rock. There was a Rock with arms thicker than Louisiana gumbo and a bankroll that could choke a Budweiser Clydesdale.
Canadian Football League commissioner Randy Ambrosie was also in the dream. He was talking about talking, and he was excited to be talking about talking. That’s the only part that seemed real, because Commish Randy always seems geeked up about something or other, even when the feds are telling him to take his begging cap and stick it where the sun don’t shine. He’s more upbeat than a 1960s Who concert.
Anyway, Commish Randy wasn’t just talking about talking. He was also talking about crawling into bed with the Rock, and that’s when I stirred from slumber.
“Whoa,” I said to myself, clearing my eyes and wondering if someone had spiked my fish sticks and fries the night before. “That’s some serious whack-a-do dreaming. No way Rouge Football is going down that road again.”
As we now know, that’s exactly where Commish Randy plans to take the CFL. To the United States of Four Down Football, lock, stock and to hell with the import ratio and rouge.
Naturally, since whispers of an alliance between Rouge Football and The Rock’s XFL became a roar last week, considerable hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing has ensued, much of it because there’s a belief Commish Randy and his CFL overlords are about to sell the very soul of our quirky three-downs game.
You know, just like during the 1990s.
Well, okay, they didn’t completely sell their soul to accommodate a handful of American expansion franchises in the ’90s, but they peddled enough of it to make some of us who were there antsy. We hear that Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) and Commish Randy have engaged in something more significant than pillow talk, and we squirm like a fresh batch of hemorrhoids has kicked in.
Among other things, the end zone at Liberty Bowl Stadium in Memphis was about the size of a cocktail napkin. Bernie and Lonie Glieberman skipped town in Ottawa to set up shop in Shreveport, La., where players were bedded down on the second floor of a milking barn during training camp. The Glieberguys fired their head coach, John Huard, before the opening kickoff. Pepper Rodgers, chief cook and bottle washer of the Memphis Mad Dogs, liked everything about the CFL except the rules, and he was never shy about critiquing the quirkiness of our game.
“You Canadians can sit around and do what you want up there in Canada,” he said, “but no one understands the rules here because we have some really weird stuff in this league.”
In Glitter Gulch, meanwhile, the Las Vegas Posse sometimes practiced in the parking lot of the Riviera Hotel, and they once attracted 2,350 customers to a game at Sam Boyd Stadium. That is not a typo. Do not adjust your screen. Just 2,350 fans. They played their final home game in Edmonton. The Posse also trotted out a lounge singer named Dennis K.C. Parks, who mangled O Canada so badly that it became the biggest strain on 49th parallel relations since the torching of the White House.
So, ya, any hint of Rouge Football mixing with the twice-failed XFL sets off alarm bells.
But, as was the case in the 1990s, the CFL needs money like a vagabond needs a hot meal and a bath, and I can think of worse people for them to hook up with than the Rock and his ex-bride, Dany Garcia.
After washing out as a player with the Calgary Stampeders, Johnson found fame as a faux fighter with Vince McMahon’s WWE wrestling troupe, then became boffo box office by conquering Hollywood. Along the way, he grew very deep pockets and, according to Celebrity Net Worth, the mega-movie star is valued at $400 million. Garcia comes in at $20M, thus the $15M they forked over to purchase McMahon’s XFL table scraps last summer is chump change.
Money can’t buy credibility, though, so you can color me skeptical.
I don’t see a second venture into the land of stars, stripes and the maskless happening. It would be as calamitous as a Trump presidency. But, hey, I’ve misread the tea leaves before. I mean, I never imagined Rosie O’Donnell would make me laugh, but she was funny in A League of Their Own. So maybe a CFL-XFL will happen. Maybe they’ll make a go of it this time around. And maybe Johnny Manziel will collect as many Super Bowl rings as Tom Brady.
Let me just say this about all that: If there is a CFL-XFL and they take away the rouge, add a down, take away a player, shrink the field, or if I hear the regrettable Dennis K.C. Parks clearing his throat, they’ll lose me.
So, the Winnipeg Jets made a pilgrimage to the Republic of Tranna and took five of a possible six points from the Maple Leafs. Is there any doubt which is the best National Hockey League outfit on the northern tundra? Didn’t think so.
I still don’t like the Jets blueline, but no team in the Hoser Division knows how to play defence, so it’s a moot point.
I might be in the minority, but I won’t miss the all-Canadian house league next season. It’s too much same old, same old for my taste.
Yes, I realize Patrik Laine wanted out of Good Ol’ Hometown and the Jets obliged, but that doesn’t mean we should take glee in his struggles with the Columbus Blue Jackets. I don’t like bullies and his coach, John Tortorella, is a bully, so I feel sorry for the kid.
Just wondering, is it my imagination, or are the hemlines on TSN SportsCentre getting higher? And, if so, are the lady anchors being instructed to wear their skirts/dresses that short, or is it by choice?
Oh, woe are our male Pebble People. The Mike McEwen and Jason Gunnlaughson teams left the Brier bubble in Calgary battered and bruised, which means our Buffalo Boys remain stalled at 1-for-the-2000s. It’s one thing to have a bad year, but a bad century? Only Jeff Stoughton and pals have managed to get the job done, winning back in 2011, so these are very lean times. Meanwhile, Alberta outfits have lapped the field at the Canadian men’s curling championship, with Brendan Bottcher’s success on Sunday the 12th title this century for the boys from Wild Rose Country. Along with the dozen Brier wins, there have been three Scotties Tournament of Hearts titles from Alberta women in the 2000s. Manitoba’s Pebble People have combined for nine. So perhaps it’s time I conceded that Wild Rose Country, not our Keystone Province, is the Curling Capital Of The World. Naw. Not going there. Can’t go there.
I had the over/under at five draws for the first F-bomb at the Brier. Turns out the cuss word landed during the third match I watched. Never heard one F-bomb during the Scotties, and I still don’t understand why the boys get all potty-mouthed while the women can keep it clean.
One place you will never find my name: The list of Relevant People on Twitter.
I don’t like to cheer against athletes, but I’d rather not see Bryson DeChambeau win another tournament. Golf’s incredible bulk is an irksome fellow, especially when he says things like, “I don’t think you can Bryson-proof a golf course.” Is that confidence or arrogance? I tend to think it’s the latter. So you’ll have to excuse me for rooting for the field against him at the Players Championship on Sunday.
Here’s something you don’t hear too often: An athlete misses the media. It’s true. Belarusian tennis player Aryna Sabalenka had a natter with news snoops recently, and she got all warm-and-fuzzy, if not touchy-feely. “I prefer to see you guys in person actually,” she said. “I prefer that everything gets back to normal life. I feel okay with this kind of Zoom press conference, but I feel better emotionally to see each other and to have this eye contact when you guys ask me some questions.” Aw shucks.
Talk about robbing the cradle. Texas Tech has offered Sterling Skye Mahomes a full soccer scholarship, which wouldn’t be notable except Sterling Skye isn’t even a month old. Her parents, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Brittany Matthews, received the scholarship offer two days after the baby was born. So let me get this straight: Mahomes recently signed a contract that will pay him $450 million over the next 10 years, and his kid needs a free ride?
So what’s the new term for when a spoiled six-year-old kid in the playground takes his ball and goes home because he thinks the other kids are being mean? Pulling a Piers Morgan.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of sports figures spewing racist, homophobic or bigoted bile, then expecting us to believe that they aren’t actually racist, homophobic or bigoted.
The latest to join that list is Meyers Leonard, a Miami Heat centre caught uttering an anti-Jewish slur while live-streaming video game play.
“This is not a proper representation of who I am,” he insisted in his mea culpa.
The National Basketball Association believed Leonard, but still fined him $50,000 and the Heat ordered him to go stand in a corner and also seek guidance.
But Leonard’s “that isn’t who I am” defence is far too commonplace. Some examples:
Golfer Justin Thomas, after dropping a gay F-bomb during a recent tournament: “It’s not a word I use. It’s not who I am. It’s not the kind of person that I am.”
Baseball broadcaster Thom Brennaman, who dropped an anti-gay F-bomb during a broadcast: “That is not who I am and never has been.”
Heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury, who said being gay is one of three things that will lead to the apocalypse and homosexuality equals pedophilia: “I’m not homophobic, I’m not racist.”
Baseball player Kevin Pillar, after dropping an anti-gay F-bomb: “This is not who I am.”
Chris Culliver of the San Francisco 49ers, who said he doesn’t want gay teammates: “Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart. It’s not what I feel in my heart.”
James Harrison of Pittsburgh Steelers, dropping the anti-gay F-bomb on NFL commish Roger Goodell: “I am not a homophobic bigot.”
Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls, dumping the gay F-bomb on a fan: “Anybody who knows me knows that I’m not like that.”
Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers, who issued a series of anti-gay remarks on social media: “That doesn’t resemble the person I am now. Those are not my beliefs at all. They never were my beliefs.”
The late Kobe Bryant, who lashed out at a referee with the anti-gay F-bomb: “The words expressed do NOT express my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone.”
Words matter. If you say it, own it. Then try to get better.
And, finally, my idea of March Madness has nothing to do with American college hoops and everything to do with reading dispatches from the Republic of Tranna when the Maple Leafs take their predictable nose dive.