I’ve always been a big stats guy when it comes to sports and just about anything. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the teams I grew up cheering for haven’t won a championship in nearly 30 years. I end up focusing on statistical achievements as a consolation prize of sorts and it provides something extra to keep me engaged when another season is lost at before the midway point.
To this day one of my most memorable sporting moments was when Milt Stegall shattered all the league’s touchdown records. That memory is still vivid, while only fragments remain of the Blue Bombers 1990 Grey Cup win. As I recall, after Milt Stegall tied George Reed and Mike Pringle’s record he didn’t score another touchdown for weeks. The wait was good for the team as they sold out several games in a row during “Stegall Watch”. But in the end, it became such a distraction to the team that he ended up breaking the record in the most unorthodox way. Sick and tired of waiting for it to happen naturally, they ran a contrived play near the goal-line which produced a rare Stegall rushing touchdown which took some of the satisfaction out of the whole thing. He would go on to produce 9 additional touchdowns in classic “Stegall the Touchdown Beagle” style, so I wish they hadn’t forced one to him in an attempt to artificially create a historic moment. It reminds me of the time Lui Passaglia rushed a touchdown on a one-yard sneak despite being a kicker for his entire career. It happened in his last career game home game and cheapened what could have been first class send off. I love the CFL but situations like this really degrade the product.
As contrived, unnatural, and attention seeking as these unorthodox touchdowns are, they pale in comparison to the way TSN combines CFL/NFL records as if they were the NFC and AFC. To me it’s plenty good enough when a player breaks a record in the longest standing professional football league on the planet.
Please tell me it wasn’t entertaining enough to watch Anthony Calvillo triumph in surpassing Damon Allen’s all-time CFL passing yardage mark. Did they really need to rope in some NFL legends to make a video congratulating him on breaking the “Pro Football” record? You can’t suggest Dan Marino was even aware that Anthony Calvillo existed before TSN gave him a call to line up the shoot. I just don’t picture Marino tossing and turning in his sleep worrying about a CFL QB who might pass for more yards than he did. CFL records, Grey Cups, and achievements matter deeply to me, so I’m not suggesting that the league is second rate. It’s just poorly presented at times. They aren’t even playing the same game or by the same rules. NFL QB’s play 2 fewer games a season, have a narrower field to operate on and play in a league that has traditionally (not so much anymore) focused less on the passing game. These combined records have about as much authenticity as combining MMA and Boxing records. Like Canadian and American football they are different sports with some level of ability for players to cross over. Ask me how that worked out for Conner McGregor?
With all due respect to current Ottawa Redblack’s kicker Lewis Ward who recently broke the CFL and NFL record for consecutive field goals made, I’m pretty much over it. He’s similar to former Bomber kicker Justin Palardy who had a hard limit of 45 yards on field goals. Palardy had an impressive season back in 2010 when he set the bombers single-season field goal percentage record at 86.7%. A record which has since been surpassed by a much better kicker in Justin Medlock who actually attempts kicks from a professional distance. My prediction is that despite Rod Black comparing Ward to Adam Vinatieri, he might not be a long-term professional kicker in the same way that Justin Palardy fizzled out shortly after becoming the bomber record holder. Yes, Ward currently holds the “Pro Football” record for consecutive field goals made. But on no planet is he in the same class as Adam Vinetari or a handful of the CFL’s top placekickers.
To Ward’s credit, if there’s one position where the stats in the NFL/CFL would be the most comparable it would be placekicker. They have one job to do after all. However, there are no jobs available in the NFL for kickers who are capped at 45 yards and there really “shouldn’t” be in the CFL either. Ottawa was really in a bind after last year’s kicker Brett Maher not only signed in the NFL but beat out high priced veteran Dan Bailey. Maher who was one of the least accurate CFL placekickers last season at least possesses adequate leg strength and was performing well for the Cowboys until last week’s game tieing miss.
I would be fine with comparing cross-border pro football stats if the NFL treated CFL stats the way the CFL treats NFL stats. However, to this day I’m still waiting for one American commentator to suggest that Drew Brees still needs to catch up to Damon Allen and Anthony Calvillo in career passing yards. I bet if he does catch them it won’t even be mentioned on a single NFL broadcast. To put it bluntly, the only time this comes into play is when TSN is trying to milk a few extra viewers on a CFL broadcast. It cheapens the league by making the CFL look like it’s trying too hard.
In an attempt to end on a positive note “Field-Goal Gate” did reduce the number of Johnny Manzeil references made by clueless TSN broadcaster Rod Black during a couple of games. Alas, a small victory but I’m inclined to take it.