Delays, Controversy and a Winner

Courtesy of and The 20-Yard End Zone

By Footloose

It was an interesting week in the CFL.

Things started Thursday night in Winnipeg on Milt Stegall Night. 

After a lightning delay of more than two hours, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers stormed out of the gate and took a 34-0 halftime lead on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and would win 37-11.

Stegall, the second all-time leading receiver in CFL history behind Geroy Simon, was honored with his family at halftime. Stegall, a Cincinnati native, played at Miami (OH) and then was a Cincinnati Bengal for three seasons before going to Green Bay and then to Winnipeg. During his career, he was a favorite of ESPN personality Chris Berman.

CJ Roberts scored on a pick six early in the game, and then Matt Nichols fired TD passes to Thomas Mayo and Clarence Denmark. Andrew Harris scored a touchdown on the ground.

Hamilton scored a TD in the third quarter when Jeremiah Masoli connected with Terrence Toliver for a 44-yard gain to set up a one-yard TD run by Jeff Mathews.

BC wins in Montreal

Friday night, the BC Lions went into Montreal and outscored the Alouettes 15-0 in the fourth quarter to win 38-18.

Jonathan Jennings completed 27 of 32 passes and tossed a TD to Manny Arceneuax. Jeremiah Johnson scored a touchdown on the ground, and Loucheiz Purifoy made the play of the game by scooping up a loose ball and scoring on a fumble recovery. Richie Leone added four field goals.

BC sacked Montreal QB Kevin Glenn six times. Glenn threw a TD pass to BJ Cunningham and ran for one score.

Bo knows winning

Bo Levi Mitchell of the Calgary Stampeders is the all-time leader CFL in winning percentage among quarterbacks, and he played like it Friday.

Mitchell threw for 312 yards and fired a TD to Anthony Parker in the 35-15 win over Saskatchewan. Jerome Messam and Andrew Buckley ran for TDs. Rene Paredes kicked four field goals.

Rob Bagg scored on a 48-yard pass from Darian Durant for the Riders.

Controversy in Ottawa

All eyes were on Henry Burris as he bounced back with a 23-20 win over the defending Grey Cup champion Edmonton Eskimos in a penalty-filled contest in Ottawa Saturday night.

Burris threw TD passes to Ernest Jackson and former New Orleans Saint Chris Williams. After a Jermaine Robinson interception and long return in the dying minutes of the game, Chris Milo kicked a 17-yard field goal to give Ottawa a 23-20 lead. The Redblacks’ defence then came up big by forcing three Mike Reilly incompletions for the win.

Edmonton scored the most unusual TD of the year when a Burris pass appeared to hit the ground but it actually bounced off Williams’ foot and went high into the air. JC Sherritt interception the ball on the run and raced down the sideline to dive into the end zone. Reilly hit Chris Getzlaf, the brother of NHL star Ryan Getzlaf, for the two-point convert.

At halftime, Burris was interviewed by TSN’s Matthew Scianitti, and he unleashed a rant about the criticism and doubts he has faced from fans and, in particular, the TSN panel.

“Henry and I are friends and we have talked about it and shared a laugh,” said Milt Stegall, one of the panelists, in an interview that can be heard on our podcast.

This week’s games

Thursday – Montreal at Edmonton

Neither team has consistently been able to put a full 60 minutes of football together this year, but both teams have explosive passing games. Look for a high-scoring barnburner.

Friday – Winnipeg at Toronto

Toronto is quietly one of the best teams in the league, and back-up Logan Kilgore shone in his first CFL start after replacing an injured Ricky Ray. Winnipeg is also trending upward, and this is a new team after Matt Nichols replaced Drew Willy as the starting QB.

Saturday – Calgary at Saskatchewan

The Riders are a much better team playing in front of the best fans in the CFL at home. They beat Ottawa at home, but can they beat Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stampeders?

Saturday – Hamilton at BC

Zach Collaro smakes his return to the Tiger-Cats’ line up as they face the red hot BC Lions in Vancouver. Hamilton needs a win to keep pace with Toronto and Ottawa in the standings, but BC has been a juggernaut behind coach Wally Buono and quarterback Jonathan Jennings.

Thanks for reading!


Putting the Carter incident to bed (hopefully)

A lot has been said in mainstream and social media about the Duron Carter incident over the last week. Some of it reasonable, far too much of it not. I’m not interested in re-hashing each element of the incident or perform a Zapruder film-like dissection of the various TSN broadcast angles. In my estimation, it is all pretty meaningless and does little else than deflect from the only issue of any import or relevance: An opposing player aggressively approached the Ottawa Redblacks sideline and recklessly knocked over head coach Rick Campbell. 

The rest: details.

Was Jermaine Robinson’s hit on Carter after the TD catch dangerous and worthy of a fine? Yes. Should Jerrell Gavins have been fined for punching the back of Carter’s head after he knocked Campbell down? Probably. Was Campbell on the field of play? Of course. Was Carter concussed? Maybe. But all of that is nothing but window-dressing. Missing the forest for the trees. Footnotes to the real story. 

A player went after an opposing coach.

It’s pretty simple: Coaches have to be protected from acts like this. Leagues protect their officials – like the NHL did in the Dennis Wideman case – because they are vulnerable to the much larger, stronger, amped-up athletes they’re paid to look after. Football coaches are very similar in this respect.

(Side note: How anyone in their right mind could believe the 5’10”, not-very-athletic Campbell would initiate contact with a 6’5″ fully-equipped and partially-enraged football player is mind-boggling.)

The end result from the CFL was a single-game suspension for Carter and fines for other members of the Redblacks, including Campbell, which didn’t sit very well him. It’s a real shame the CFL didn’t take the opportunity and send a message to Carter with a suspension in the 2-to-4 game range, especially now that the player has apparently decided to appeal. Imagining a scenario where everyone directly involved in the Carter incident EXCEPT CARTER gets reprimanded by the league is pretty sickening. The league should have seen that coming, too. We’ll see how it plays out.

Everyone will have their point of view, and I get that (we can’t all be right ;)). Here are a couple places (from outside of Ottawa) that I believe describe the incident appropriately.

Arash Madani – CFL failed with Carter’s light punishment

Davis Sanchez – Intro to Episode 3 of The Waggle Podcast

Looking forward to putting this whole incident in the rear view mirror. Also eagerly anticipating August 19th, when the Alouettes visit Ottawa.

Thanks for reading!


#TBT: An Interview with Mike Vilimek

By: Santino Filoso

Mike Vilimek

Vancouver born and raised, today’s guest, Mike Vilimek, played RB and LB in high school before going on to set school records at Simon Fraser University. Drafted with the second of two 1st round picks the Renegades held in the 2002 CFL draft, Vilimek played for 3 years in Ottawa before signing with Montreal as a free agent in 2005.

As a Vancouver native, did you get out to a lot of Lions games as a kid?

Yes. My most memorable was the 1994 Grey Cup, when the Lions faced the Baltimore Stallions. I was only 15 at the time and was offered a pair of tickets at the last minute. After Lui Passaglia kicked the game-winning field goal for the Lions, the building erupted. It was a great experience.


You played university football at Simon Fraser, setting a school record for most rushing yards in a game with 315. What do you remember about that day?

Often when a back sets a rushing record, the game is a blowout. Not in this case. We were in a close back-and-forth match-up with Humboldt State University. We ended up needing every one of those yards to beat them 37-34. I also surpassed the SFU single season rushing record that game so it was a very special day for me.


The Renegades selected you 2nd overall in the 2002 draft, did you feel any pressure being drafted so high?

Not really. All the excitement of the team’s inaugural season plus the fact that every player on the team was a first-year Renegade lessened the focus on rookies like myself. That being said, I had success running the ball in our first pre-season game which I think probably set higher expectations for me than being drafted 2nd overall did. Unfortunately, that success in the pre-season didn’t translate into opportunities to carry the ball in the regular season.

During your time in Ottawa you often were the lead blocker for Josh Ranek, who was nicknamed “The Little Ball of Hate”. As a FB why did you enjoy blocking for a guy like that?

Josh got that nickname because every time he touched the ball, he ran with it like he was angry. And he had a lot of success doing it. Off the field, he was very polite, no ego, and was one of the nicest guys on the team. Blocking for a guy like that is always fun.

A lot of people blame the Renegades ownership for being a distraction to the team, did you ever feel that way?

Not really. I can’t say it was ever a distraction to me as a player. However, I left for Montreal as a free agent after the 2004 season, so I never experienced ownership under the Gliebermans. But if you ask players from the 2005 season, they may have a different story.

Throughout your career you were a special teams ace, making numerous tackles on kick coverage. What’s the trick to containing a dangerous returner?

Usually a dangerous returner is going to be faster than you, so the only way to contain him is to use the sidelines, your teammates, and by keeping proper angles. You can’t allow him to turn it into a foot race because you’ll lose.

How did you pump yourself up before a big game?

Some guys like to listen to music or yell and jump up and down. My routine was more about visualization. I’d walk through the game in my mind and visualize the plays I would make. That way when the game started I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

What was the best hit you ever gave and the worst you received?

The best hit I gave was in a game versus the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. I lined up as a slot receiver just outside the defensive end. The play was designed to come wide to my side so at the snap of the ball, the defensive end came up field thinking he had a free run at the QB. He never saw it coming. It was one of those hits where the guy goes airborne. For the rest of the game, I could see him looking where I was lined up before each play.

The worst hit I received wasn’t one of those highlight real hits and it’s not the kind of hit many fans would even notice. When you’re in a pile of people and someone gets a running start at you, the momentum from the hit has no where to go but to be absorbed by your body. Those hits hurt the most.

Mike Vilimek2

In 2005 you signed with Montreal and went on to become a goal line specialist, scoring 5 TDs that season. Did you do anything differently that year or was it just a case of the coach giving you an opportunity?

I never got much of a chance to contribute as a ball carrier with Ottawa. I had success running the ball in the pre-season three years in a row, (interestingly enough against Montreal, who I would eventually sign with as a free agent) but that pre-season success in Ottawa never transferred to opportunities in the regular season. In my first year with Montreal, they simply gave me the chance, and I ran with it, literally.

COC05 0728 football2.jpg-1

Where do you feel is the toughest stadium in the CFL to go in and get a win?

Definitely BC Place. In my years with Ottawa and Montreal, we never once got a win at BC Place, regular season or playoffs. We could beat BC at home, but never at their place. Some blamed the 3 hour time change where a 7pm kickoff meant teams from back East were playing starting a game at 10pm. I don’t really buy that, but I don’t have a better explanation either.

Why #35?

When I arrived at SFU as a freshman, that happened to be the number that was available. After the success I had at the university level, I wanted to keep the same number. Fortunately I was able to get #35 as both a Renegade and as an Alouette.

Mike Vilimek3

Are there any losses that still haunt you?

Yeah. The 2005 and 2006 Grey Cup games. I got to play in two Grey Cups in my CFL career, but ended up retiring without a ring. Any professional athlete will tell you retiring without ever winning the ‘big one’ is tough.

Since you retired, what have you been doing for work?

I’m a Director at Oracle, one of the largest enterprise software companies in the world. I lead a team responsible for the global go-to-market strategies and activities for Oracle’s HCM Cloud solutions.

Did you still keep in touch with any other former Renegades?

Not as much as I used to. It pains me to say, but most of the updates I get now come from Facebook.

Any plans to return to Ottawa and catch a Redblacks game?

Ottawa is a great city, especially in the summer. I haven’t been back since I stopped playing but I hope to make it back soon. I’d love to take in a Redblacks game. Even with the renovated stadium, I’m sure it would bring back a lot of memories.

Thanks for your time Mike and hope to see you in Ottawa soon!


– All images via Scott Grant and Google

The Maas Effect; Argos Loss = Redblacks Gain

By: Santino Filoso


Christmas came early for R-Nation, as yesterday afternoon the Ottawa Redblacks announced the addition of Bryan Chiu to their coaching staff. The 40 year old Chiu becomes the Redblacks first true offensive line coach, as last season former offensive co-ordinator Mike Gibson coached the offensive line in addition to calling plays.

Chiu, a 13 year CFL veteran, was a seven time all-star, winning two Grey Cups with the Montreal Alouettes in 2002 and 2009 and he also captured the award for the CFL’s top lineman in 2002. As a player, Chiu was known to be an offensive lineman with an edge, the kind of guy you love to have on your team but hate to play against. Hopefully Chiu can instil some of that tough mentality to an Ottawa offensive line that was simply pushed around too often last season.


Since his retirement following the 2009 season, Chiu has gone on to coach in the CIS with the Concordia Stingers, working as their OL coach and assistant offensive co-ordinator from 2010-2013. Last season Chiu coached a Toronto Argonaut’s offensive line that allowed 42 sacks in 681 drop backs, which equals 1  sack given up every 16 passing plays. Not bad at all when you consider the Redblacks gave up  56 sacks in 591 drop backs, or a sack every 10 passing plays. In terms of the running game, the Argos averaged 5.3 yards per carry and 91 per game compared to the Redblacks 4.9 yards per carry and 82 per game.

One way to look at this addition is that Jason Maas’ hiring as the offensive co-ordinator is already paying off in spades as on he was able to lean on his relationship with the former CFL all-star and lure him away from the Argos. Head Coach Rick Campbell alluded to as much saying:

Bryan understands the CFL and specifically offensive line play in the CFL. He’s also familiar with our new offensive coordinator Jason Maas after coaching together last year in Toronto so we think that relationship will continue to build and help us be successful. Bryan is up and coming with a long successful career as a player and a promising career as a coach in the CFL.”

Having both Maas and Chiu on the Redblacks coaching staff probably also gives the Redblacks an inside track on some of the Argo’s free agents. A guy like Tyler Holmes, who Chiu coached all last season, might be more willing to sign in Ottawa as he’ll already know a few familiar faces.


In my opinion the most important thing about this signing is that it shows R-Nation that management has watched the tape and sees what we the fans see, and isn’t afraid to spend to get better. Our offensive line was a weakness last season but bringing a guy like Chiu in directly addresses this weakness and makes the team better. Though Chiu is young and perhaps a little inexperienced in terms of coaching, I think he’s exactly what the doctor ordered.

What do you think of Bryan Chiu’s signing?


Redblacks Recap: Ottawa Wins Even if the Redblacks Lose

By: Santino Filoso


On an emotional Friday night, and on the first big gathering since Wednesday’s shooting, Ottawa came together as a community to begin healing through the power of sports. The Redblacks played an inspired game, buoyed by the energy and emotion of an 8th straight sell out crowd at TD Place but unfortunately still couldn’t find a way to finish, losing to the Alouettes and dropping  their record to 2-14  on the year.


The vibe around the city and build up to the game was simply outstanding with players and fans alike aware of its significance

The world’s biggest Canadian flag (on loan from the Ticats) is displayed across the field as Redblacks and Alouette players stand side by side during the singing of O Canada

Burris’ makes an incredible pre-game speech to the offence

1st Quarter:

– The Redblacks get the ball to start and move it with ease. Henry² (Marcus Henry #16) makes a 22 yard catch before Roy Finch (#19) and Jonathan Williams (#23) pound the rock on three straight plays picking up 5, 10 and 8 yards. Patrick Lavoie (#81) gets in on the fun with his own 10 yard catch and Henry² caps the drive off in style hauling in a 6 yard TD pass

Montreal Alouettes v Ottawa RedBlacks

– With his 1st passing touchdown at home in 94 possessions, Henry Burris (#1) moves into 3rd place all time, passing Ron Lancaster with 334 career passing TDs.

– Montreal responds with a long drive of their own, moving the chains twice with big second down catches by SJ Green. The Als appear to settle for a FG attempt when Jerrell Gavins (#24) nearly gets a pick six from his own end zone but Montreal coach Tom Higgins challenges for pass interference

– About 2.7 seconds after the challenge flag hits the ground, the league overturns the call, giving the Als a first down on Ottawa’s 1 yard line. Short yardage specialist Tanner “One Yard Ain’t No Thang” Marsh wastes no time punching it in on the QB sneak to tie the game at 7

– A heavy dose of Williams bulldozing defenders and Finch weaving through would be tacklers allows the Redblacks to march the ball deep into Als territory before the promising drive ends when Burris’ pass is tipped and picked off.

Never a bad call to give this man the ball
Never a bad call to give this man the ball

2nd Quarter:

– A Marlon Smith (#98) sack is wiped out by a pass interference call on Gavins (his second of the night) but continued heavy pressure forces Crompton to throw an incompletion and ensures the Als have to punt

– True to his word, HC Rick Campbell puts Danny “Boy” O’Brien (#9) in for a series and after handing off to Williams for a 4 yard loss, he throws into heavy coverage and his first pass of the night is picked off

The future?
The future?

– Abdul Kanneh (#14) immediately gets Ottawa the ball back with his own interception

– O’Brien comes in at QB again and on the ensuing play William’s leg gets awkwardly twisted as he is pulled down

– After the injury time out Burris re-enters the game and hits Lavoie for a first down gain but his next two passes fall incomplete. Brett Maher’s (#3) beautiful punt pins the Als on their 5 yard line

– A swarming defence nearly get its second interception of the night before forcing a two and out

– Much to R-Nation’s relief Williams re-enters the game, looking no worse for the wear

A sight for sore eyes though he wasn't used in the 2nd half
A sight for sore eyes though he wasn’t used in the 2nd half

– Former Renegade LB Kyries Hebert shows that there’s no place like home as he blows up a screen on 2nd down. Things go from bad to worse when Maher’s punt is blocked

The last active Renegade
The last active Renegade still making plays

– Montreal settles for a 41 yard FG when Antoine “The Phenom” Pruneau (#6) sniffs out the screen for a loss and Keith “I Like Hittin’ People” Shologan (#74) and Justin Capicciotti (#93) meet at the QB, sacking Crompton


– Backed up by flags, a sack leads to a two and out for the Redblacks

– The defence bends but doesn’t break and the Als eventually kick a 14 yard FG

– With less than a minute left in the game, O’Brien comes back in at QB and hands off to Finch three times in a row

– After 30 minutes, Habs lead 13-7


3rd Quarter:

– Als get the ball to start the second half and two questionable flags on Kanneh, (pass inference and later objectionable conduct) lead directly to a touchdown, 20-7 for the Als

– Burris’ pass hits Henry² right in the hands, but he can’t hang on and instead pops it up for the player with the best name in the CFL, Bear Woods, who picks it off

Burris celebrating the tip drill
“It was right in his hands!”

– Montreal turns the turnover into points with a 47 yard FG

– The Redblacks string together a few first downs courtesy of hard running from Finch and catches by Khalil Paden (#13) and Carlton Mitchell (#88) but the drive stalls when Burris is sacked on 2nd down

– Faced with 3rd and 9 and an inattentive Montreal defence, Maher fakes the punt and passes to Lavoie for a 38 yard gain


– After an incompletion and yet another sack, Maher splits the uprights with a 21 yard FG to make it 23-10


4th Quarter:

– Despite losing a shoe, Brandyn Thompson (#25) makes a beautiful play and breaks up a deep pass on 2nd down

– O’Brien gets another series and proceeds to book up with Wallace “Boom or Bust” Miles (#84) on a 44 yard bomb before second round pick Scott Macdonell (#83) makes a catch, splits two defenders and rumbles 58 yards to the house for his first career touchdown. In 2 plays and 56 seconds the Redblacks cover 102 yards.

The first of many
The first of many

– Relentless defensive pressure earns another Alouette two and out

– O’Brien and the offence go two and out but Maher’s coffin corner punt again pins the Als deep

– Pruneau nearly picks off Crompton and on the next play Kanneh forces a fumble which is recovered by Jovon Johnson. Unfortunately and inexplicably the call is overturned after a review when the officials claim the Montreal player was down by contact

– Not satisfied with the bush league ruling or perhaps simply to spite the refs, HC Rick Campbell blows everyone’s mind by challenging the review, asking the refs to take a second look at the play. The review of the review is quickly shot down by the officials who confirm the review

– The Als march down the field in small chunks, chewing up precious clock before eventually punting. Ottawa takes over on their own 10 with 2:31 left in the game

With short pass after short pass, it was death by 1000 cuts for the Redblacks
With short pass after short pass, it was death by 1000 cuts for the Redblacks

– Following a Macdonell 7 yard catch, Burris throws the ball away under heavy pressure. Just like last week, facing 3rd and 3 and down 6 points with 2 min left in the game, HC Rick Campbell chooses to punt and crosses his fingers that his team will get the ball back

– The Redblacks defence shows why it’s the backbone of the team, bailing out their coach by forcing a quick two and out


– With 1:15 left, on 1st down Burris overthrows Carter on a deep route. On 2nd down the pass is behind Macdonell. With the game on the line and needing 10 yards to keep the drive alive, NOT A SINGLE RECEIVER RUNS PAST THE FIRST DOWN MARKER, so Burris checks down and Macdonell makes a 7 yard catch but can’t get any more.

– Alouettes take over and run out the clock

Final score: 23-17

Key stats:

Burris went 12 of 21 for 110 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs

O’Brien went  3 of 5 for 111 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT

Williams ran 8 times for 50 yards

Macdonell hauled in 8 passes for 73 yards and 1 TD

Simmons made 8 tackles

Maher punted 4 times for 173 yards, averaging 43 yards per kick

Closing thoughts:

It was never really about the game to be honest, in the first major gathering since Wednesday’s tragic events, the football was always going to be secondary. The focus tonight was on Ottawa’s response to tragedy and it rose to the occasion. The Redblacks went out of their way to honour this week’s fallen soldiers and R-Nation did an incredible job singing O Canada for the entire country.

After a dazzling opening drive that made it look easy, the Redblacks failed to move the ball with any kind of consistency as flags and sacks killed numerous drives. Burris started out hot and finally threw a touchdown at home but quickly cooled off with overthrows and drops leading to two and outs. Danny O’Brien got a fair number of reps and after his first pass was picked off he responded in style, covering 102 yards in 2 plays for Ottawa’s second touchdown. Unfortunately Campbell’s flip-flopping between QBs seemed to not only hinder the offence, but also didn’t ride the hot hand as O’Brien was responsible for all the late positive momentum but was on the sidelines for Ottawa’s final two drives. The run game took a big hit when Williams was lost to injury though Finch continued to shine when called upon. No receiver made more than three catches or really stood out other than Scott Macdonell who looks and plays like he belongs. The offensive line had a tough game, failing to provide a clean pocket for the majority of the night and giving up four sacks. Perhaps the most frustrating play of the game was on 3rd and 10 with 45 seconds left. Mike Gibson dialled up a brilliant play that culminated with no receivers running past the first down marker. Kind of a fitting reflection of the Redblacks offensive performance this year. Equally infuriating was the decision to run the ball three straight times to end the first half when we only needed about twenty yards into field goal range.

Defensively the Redblacks more than punched above their weight, repeatedly bailing out an offence that put them in tough positions with five turnovers. Though it didn’t result in many sacks, heavy pressure forced Crompton to rush a number of throws and led to incompletions. Simmons and Pruneau led the a swarming defence with eight and seven tackles respectively. The defence seemed to provide the late spark needed to turn the tide in Ottawa’s favour with a forced fumble, but a blotched review took away the turnover and all the momentum the Redblacks had built up.

Special teams were good as Ottawa clearly won the field position battle. Maher was solid punting, showing off his ability to pin teams deep with accurate corner punts and a perfectly executed fake punt led to a huge first down and a 38 yard gain, and later a field goal. Finch looked dangerous every time he fielded a punt though he always seemed to be one block away from a huge return. Once again the referees were a major factor with more than a few scratching decisions. Both teams were flagged a number of times as a result of sloppy and undisciplined play and what turned out to be a pivotal play in the game was decided by a mind boggling call on a review. Twice Ottawa had reviews go against them, first when a pass interference call lead to Montreal’s first touchdown and second when the refs somehow found enough evidence to overturn a clear fumble, which was the call on the field. There’s no way around the fact that the zebras were a deciding factor in the game tonight, throwing 27 flags for 253 yards, with 14 of those going against Ottawa for 143 yards.

Rick Campbell made a few decisions that will be second guessed, such as his attempt to challenge a challenge, asking for a review of the review and again choosing to punt the ball away when down by a single score with two minutes left in the game. The incredible number of after the whistle penalties reflect poorly on him as it shows a lack of discipline. It’s obvious that certain guys are still buying in and giving their all, but some guys are playing for themselves and stupid, selfish, bonehead plays show that.

Next up for the Redblacks is the final home game of the year on Halloween night against the Hamilton Ticats. Ottawa will be playing for pride and looking to entertain a hopefully 9th straight sell out crowd. Make sure you come out and cheer loudly because it’s your last chance to show the team some love and to put an exclamation mark on our inaugural season.


– All images via and

Ranking the CFL’s Signature Looks

By: Santino Filoso

Sig·na·ture (ˈsignəCHər,-ˌCHo͝or/)


  1. a person’s name written in a distinctive way as a form of identification

The CFL in conjunction with Reebok recently released a brand new line of 3rd jerseys. This new “Signature Look” line has been mainly met with scorn and criticism even though they’re not all bad. In fact, we here at Defend the R took it upon ourselves to conduct a thorough analysis of each team’s new getups and rank them for you! Factors that went into our decision included visual appeal, style, fan interaction, use of team colours, how the uniforms looked in person vs being photoshopped/enhanced and ties to team history. Without further ado, here are the rankings:

9) The Saskatchewan GREENWHITES


Though we are a fan run, independent blog, we here at Defend the R were privileged to sit in on Saskatchewan’s meeting with Reebok’s creative team. Here’s the *actual* transcript of how it went down.

Reebok: Thanks for coming today everyone, before we begin I’d just like to-

Saskatchewan: Green

Reebok: Uh, yes, okay, as I was saying-

Saskatchewan: Green

Reebok: Okay, maybe I’ll just give you the floor

Saskatchewan: Green, green, green

Reebok: Hmmm, alright, we can work with that, how about 50 shades of green?

Saskatchewan: GREEN!

Reebok: Why don’t we break for lunch?

Saskatchewan: Did you say watermelon!?

Reebok: I’m sensing a theme here….

All kidding aside, these uniforms are a complete mess. If every shade of green was meant to be sewn together on a piece of fabric, Martha Stewart would’ve done it already. The helmets a look like watermelons which is an ode to the fans who wear them in the stands and the “Rider Nation” tag inside the collar is a nice touch. The GREENWHITES also deserve praise for breaking new ground as the first and only team in pro sports history to feature a tramp stamp on their jersey.

Montreal Alouettes v Saskatchewan Roughriders
You can get your own GREENWHITE tramp stamp tattooed for free after every home win!

8) Winnipeg Blue Bombers


Traditional team colours, who needs’em? Not the Bombers faithful, at least to management’s thinking. Ditching their beloved golden threads, the Bombers instead embraced their inner warrior by sporting the US Military’s Arctic camouflage. There’s not a lot to like if you’re a Bomber fan, as even the helmet looks like the after splatter of a flock of seagulls. It’s as if Reebok mixed up their Toronto and Winnipeg files with this look being the bastard love child. Last time I checked the team without gold and wearing double blue was based in Toronto. Maybe these uniforms will prove to be a stroke of genius late in the season as the team will blend in and disappear into the snowy weather. When even your players struggle to appear enthusiastic, you know you’ve missed the mark.

Jason Vega isn't impressed
Jason Vega isn’t impressed

7) The Toronto Argonauts

chipmunk   should never go with this  titanswhite

What do you get when you cross Alvin the Chipmunk’s trademarked A with the Tennessee Titan’s road uniforms?  The Argos’ new signature look of course! Don’t get me wrong, I love me some powdered blue but the layout is simply all wrong. The best part of this look is the helmet, which looks crisp and clean.


6) The Hamilton Tiger Cats


Raise your hand if you thought these garbage bag grey uniforms would be ready in time. The Ticat’s new look features charcoal grey to incorporate the smog from the factory smoke stacks surrounding Tim Horton’s field. The yellow reflector numbers are a nice touch as they will help fans keep track of their favourite players through the haze of still settling construction dust. Much like the Argos, the best part of these looks are the helmets with the faded tiger logo on one side and the player number on the other.

If your pet tiger is looking this grey, take him to the vet ASAP!
If your pet tiger is looking this grey, take him to the vet ASAP!

5) The Montreal Alouettes


The Als stuck to their traditional colours by going with grey and silver on their futuristic looking new uniforms. Going back to their roots, the Alouettes chose to honour the first French Canadian Bombing unit in the Air Force, the 425 Squadron, who were nicknamed the ’’Alouettes”. Renown for their toughness and bravery, the 425 Squad was the inspiration when Montreal chose it’s team name in 1946. The only real knock on this look that for whatever reason the team and league have released very few pictures, so it’s really hard to judge just how good the complete product is or what the helmets really look like. One thing that does stand out is that the feather sleeve design looks like snowflakes. The Als decided to only use MTL on the front because it’s a) unilingual so they avoid any problems with Quebec’s strict language police and b) it saves space.

Dévoilement 3e Uniforme des Alouettes de Montréal
It’s 425, not 4225!

4) The Edmonton Eskimos


The Eskimos stuck to the KISS (Keep It Stupid Simple) philosophy with their new look and I can appreciate that. The Eskimos kept to what they and their fans know, the green and gold colour scheme and in so doing created something that both traditionalists and younger fans can enjoy. While the enormous double Es might not be the prettiest thing to look at, keep in mind that these are supposed to be signature looks, so who can fault the Eskimos for putting their signature front and centre? Stitching the lyrics to part of their fight song inside the collar is a subtle touch that links these jerseys to the team’s storied history

“The Green & Gold is bold”

3) The BC Lions


Jumping the gun on the rest of the league, BC actually released their signature jerseys last year, only they called them their “Premier Look”. The bane of sports announcers league wide, these sharp uniforms boast a gun metal look that is perfectly offset by the safety pylon orange outlining their black numbers. Though some complain the numbers are hard to read who cares, unless you’re playing the Redblacks, Ticats or Stampeders, you’ll be the only team on the field in all black! The Leos didn’t mess with a good thing by leaving the paw decal on the side of the helmet untouched.

Sorry Bighill, you’re #3 actually

2) The Ottawa Redblacks


A wise man once said that once you go plaid you’re always glad and boy was he ever right. From Day One the Redblacks have embraced Ottawa’s lumber history and considering that our mascot is an axe wielding (though kid friendly) lumberjack, it was only a matter of time before plaid worked its way onto our uniforms. It’s called a Canadian tuxedo for a reason and we here in the Nation’s Capital choose to embrace stereotypes. The Redblacks signature look definitely puts the red in Redblacks. The checkered helmet is the crown jewel of this uniform (literally), though it’s a bit strange to see an Ottawa helmet without the white iconic R on it. But to be fair to Reebok, it probably didn’t mesh well with the plaid since everyone knows that the only thing that goes with plaid is more plaid. The one thing holding this look back from top spot is the big white looking (but actually silver) saw blade on the front, it just screams out of place. Not to mention the fact that it has an uncanny resemblance to a Dr. Seuss character.

Long lost cousins?


1)  The Calgary Stampeders


The Stamps must really love the Redblacks home uniforms, because their signature look is almost exactly the same. This NRA approved uniform sports a pair of revolvers on the shoulders and gloves; a tribute to the Wild West or a reflection of the city’s gang violence? What vaults this look ahead of all the rest is Calgary’s new helmet. The bitumen black front of the helmet fades away to red and is highlighted by speed lines and a chrome horse logo. Like the GREENWHITES , Ticats, and Esks, the Stamps also have an engraving stitched on their collar, but theirs is in Latin. It doesn’t matter that nobody on the team could tell you what “Quidquid Requiritur,” means (Whatever It Takes), having a dead language on your jersey simply makes you cool.


Will you buy your team’s new jersey? How would you rank’em? Be sure to leave a comment and let us know!


Redblacks Lose Battle of the 417

By: Santino Filoso

Ottawa Redblacks v Montreal Alouettes

On Friday night the Redblacks headed to Montreal to avoid becoming the worst team in the CFL in a battle of two 1-7 clubs. Unfortunately, despite it once again being a one score game in the 4th quarter, the Redblacks comedy of errors caught up to them and cost them a win, dropping their record to a dismal 1-8.


– In a surprising move, the Redblacks come out for warm ups sporting their black home jerseys

– The CFL’s twitter feed continues it’s trend of digging up obscure Ottawa facts

– Redblacks lose the coin toss, writers would call this foreshadowing

– The Al’s stadium looks shockingly empty at kick off

1st Quarter:

– Redblacks come out of the gate sharp, marching the ball down field with catches by Henry² (Marcus Henry #16), Dobson Collins (#80), and Marter (Matt Carter, #85) but are forced to settle for a FG after they can’t overcome three penalties and a Burris sack

– Brett “Money” Maher’s (#3) 29 yard FG triples the amount of points the Redblacks scored all of last week

– The Al’s first possession ends in a punt after a few stuffed runs and heavy pocket pressure causes Jonathan “Sunshine” Crompton’s passes to fall incomplete

– Henry Burris (#1) and company go two and out courtesy a Patrick Lavoie (#81) drop

– The defence plays tough but Jerrell Gavins (#24) is flagged for illegal contact on 2nd down, giving the Als a second chance

– Jermaine Robinson (#32) grabs a piece of face mask when trying to make a tackle on 2nd down and gives the Als a free 15 yards

– Facing 3rd and 1 on the Redblacks 1 yard line, the defence stands tall and stuffs the Als, but Bradon Lang’s (#91) pinky is a fingernail over the line and he’s flagged for being offside, giving the Als a fresh set of downs

All for naught

– After being stuffed on another run play, Al’s back up QB Tanner Marsh “Madness” caps off the 11 play, 75 yard drive with a 1 yard TD pass to SJ Green

Not in the bread basket but it still counts
Not in the bread basket but it still counts

– Redblacks go two and out again after Chevon Walker (#29) picks up 3 yards on the ground and Henry² catches a 5 yard screen pass

– A face masking flag on the ensuing punt sets the Als up near mid-field

2nd Quarter:

– Sean Whyte booms a 52 yard punt through the end zone to extend the Alouette lead by 1

– TSN cuts to an awesome pre-game speech delivered by last minute healthy scratch Moton Hopkins (#95)

– The offensive woes and penalty flags continue as the Redblacks go two and out and are flagged for procedure on the punt

– Sunshine gets into rhyme as the Redblacks defence struggles with the roll outs, play fakes, and misdirection thrown at them

– Deep in the red zone, Travis “Sticky Fingers” Brown (#43) steps in front of Brandon Whitaker to pick off Crompton and ends the Al’s scoring threat

Climbing the ladder
Climbing the ladder

– A direct snap to Walker goes nowhere fast and despite an 11 yard catch from Collins, an illegal block and a 17 yard sack force another punt

– Duron “My Dad’s A Hall of Famer” Carter makes a 19 yard catch and Brown gets flagged for roughing the passer


– Continuing to show a nose for the ball, Antoine Pruneau (#6) forces a goal line fumble which Gavins recovers

– Taking two steps forward and one back, a Collins catch is sandwiched by a pair of offsides

– Wallace Miles (#84) and Khalil Paden (#13) haul in passes to move the Redblacks within range for an end of half end zone heave but Chip Cox knocks the pass down

– 8-3 for Habs after 30 minutes


– When asked what he said to the guys in the locker room, Burris answered: “An artist never takes an eraser to his work, so we need to stop erasing our positive plays on offence”

3rd Quarter:

– A Duron Carter highlight reel over the shoulder catch and short Sunshine scramble led to another rouge

– Offensive Co-Ordinator Mike Gibson continues to call ineffective runs out of shotgun

– Teams trade two and outs

– Bradon London blows by new comer Abdul Kanneh (#14) for a 51 yard gain but Reggie “Showtime” Jones (#20) saves a TD with the tackle

– Pruneau uses his body as a speed bump, disrupting Green’s timing just enough to ensure the incompletion in the end zone

– Whyte makes it 12-3 with a 22 yard FG

– Under heavy pressure, Burris gets stripped of the ball and fumbles, which is recovered by the Als

Yes, this ended badly
Yes, this ended badly

– Whyte turns the turnover into another rouge, his 3rd single of the night

– With the Als defensive line on him almost at the same time that he receives the ball, Burris is forced to chuck and duck, leading to the Redblacks’ 6th straight two and out

4th Quarter:

– Miles giveth with a 1st down catch and taketh with a 2nd down drop, Redblacks forced to punt

– Whyte gets hit while punting but since the ref is tired of throwing his flag he lets it slide

– After 3.5 quarters OC Mike Gibson finally clues in that his seven step drops aren’t working and the Redblacks switch their attack to quick short passes. This proves to be highly effective as Burris leads the offence on an 80 yard drive , featuring catches by Collins, Paden and is capped off with a 27 yard TD catch and run by Miles, Ottawa’s first TD in 193 min and 28 seconds and first since week 7

42 possessions ago (the last offensive TD), I was a young woman!


– Wasting no time, the Als respond when Robinson falls, leaving Duron Carter all alone to make a 48 yard catch. Adding insult to injury, Brown is called for a very suspect roughing the passer penalty, tacking on an extra 15 yards

– Nobody on defence wants to make a tackle as James Rogers rumbles 17 yards through weak arm tackles on a WR sweep to the house, giving the Als a 10 point lead 3 plays and 1 minute after the Redblacks pulled within 3

– An important Henry² catch (that would’ve been good for a first down) is nullified by a holding call, so instead of a fresh set of downs the Redblacks have to punt

– The defence continues to do it’s part holding the Als to another two and out


– Facing a 2nd and 2 on the Als’ 30 yard line with 1:30 left, Burris comes up short on a QB sneak while his helmet is ripped off his face. Inexplicably there’s no flag, probably because the refs believe Burris wears a magic helmet that has the power to violently rip itself off of his head

– Foregoing a short FG that would pull the Redblacks within one score and give them a shot at an onside recovery, Head Coach Rick Campbell decides to go for it on 3rd and 1, but the Redblacks fail to convert, turning the ball over on downs

– Final Score: 20-10 for not the Redblacks

Key Stats:

Burris went 21 of 34 for 245 yards with 1 TD

Walker had 7 carries for 31 yards

Miles hauled in 7 passes for 101 yards and 1 TD

Justin Capicciotti (#93) led the way on defence with 6 tackles

Maher punted 9 times for 423 yards

Closing Thoughts:

There’s no sugar coating the fact that this was a game that most Redblacks fans thought the team would win. After some strong showings against some tough Western opponents, tonight was the Redblacks’ chance to make a push for a playoff spot. Despite a promising early drive, Ottawa’s offensive woes from past weeks carried over into this game. Burris had a number of throws I’m sure he’d like back but his offensive line also didn’t do a whole lot to give him any time to really plant his feet. OC Mike Gibson called his worst game of the year, failing to involve Walker and take some pressure off the passing game, only calling 7 running plays all night long, talk about throwing your QB to the wolves. Furthermore, it took Gibson the better part of three and a half quarters to adjust and finally call some plays that gave his players a chance to make something happen. Considering that the offensive line was struggling and that Burris was under pressure all night long, it’s criminal that Gibson didn’t adapt and mix in a few more runs earlier. One issue that really needs to be addressed is how receivers react after catching the ball. All too often instead of simply putting their head down and plowing forward for the first down, they danced around and ended up losing yards.

Even lacking Keith Shologan (#74), Ottawa’s defence continued to play at a high level, keeping the Redblacks in the game for nearly 55 minutes. Linebackers Pruneau, Jasper Simmons (#31) and Brown flew around and made their presence felt. Gavins was the only real standout in terms of coverage but in general the corners seemed to play a bit too soft. New comer Abdul Kanneh showed his inexperience, often being caught out of position. Ultimately the defence caught a few bad breaks, with some highly questionable roughing the passer flags and Robinson slipping to leave Carter open on the long bomb which lead to the nail in the coffin TD. Despite allowing the Als to march down immediately after the offence pulled within three, it’s hard to fault the defence considering the fact that they were once again on the field for nearly 35 minutes. As long as the defence continues to play at this level the Redblacks will be in every game, especially if the offence can find a way to put up points on a consistent basis.

Specials teams were a bright spot, with good coverage and Maher averaging 47 yards a punt. Although Jamill Smith (#15) didn’t have a punt return longer than 15 yards he looked quicker and did his part in the field position battle. Looking back on this game the Redblacks will rue the number of penalties they took. After 30 minutes they had racked up 12 flags for 80 yards and by the end of the game the total was 16 penalties for 135 yards. The lack of discipline was a back breaker as the flags wiped out positive offence plays and directly lead to points against, keeping Alouette drives alive when they had no right to be. Some of the blame has to fall on the coaching staff as this has been an issue for Ottawa since the pre-season, but at the same time these guys are supposed to be professionals. They KNOW they can’t tackle players by their facemasks yet still grab them, and they KNOW they can’t line up offside yet still screw it up. Coaching is a part of the problem but at the same time the players need to own their bone-head mistakes.

Things don’t get any easier for the Redblacks as the BC Lions come to town next week, perhaps with Kevin Glenn at the helm. R-Nation is sure to pack TD Place again and give him the welcome he deserves, so hopefully the team had draw off the crowd’s energy and pick up their 2nd win of the season.


– All images via and the Ottawa Sun


Ottawa Paints Montreal Redblack

By: Santino Filoso


On Friday night the Redblacks closed out their pre-season and made the short trip over to Montreal to resume a rivalry that had been on hold for 3156 days. 72 players had one last chance to impress coaches and beat out the competition in hopes of surviving the final round of training camp cuts and earning a roster spot.


– When he’s not playing against the Redblacks, how can you not be pulling for a guy like Chad Johnson? He’s got the right attitude about playing in the CFL and when asked by the Montreal Gazette how he was feeling heading into tonight’s game he dropped this gem;

It’s similar to the feeling before I lost my virginity. There’s a certain level of excitement … anticipation … not knowing what’s going to happen or what I’m going to get.

– Realize that the Redblacks will only be playing in their white road uniforms until July 18th, but I don’t mind at all. They look SO good

– The Sun’s Tim Baines lobbies for urinal toys at TD Place

– Apparently most Als fans were still celebrating France’s World Cup rout of the Swiss and couldn’t make it in time for kick-off


1st Quarter:

– Jamill Smith returns the Als opening kickoff for a big gain, but that’s the only positive aspect of the Redblacks opening drive as Burris gets sacked twice behind a shaky offensive line

– Former NFL star Chad Johnson immediately gets involved, making a catch for a 1st down on the Als’ 1st play from scrimmage

#85’s first and only catch of the game

– Rod Black’s talking point of the quarter is Chad Johnson and TSN’s cameras pan to show the dozen people wearing Cincinnati Bengal jerseys in the crowd

– Als string together a couple of first downs before their drive stalls and they punt for a single, 1-0 for the Habs

– Don’t tell Paris Jackson it’s just the pre-season, after an 8-yard catch he gets into a shoving match with Chip Cox on the sidelines

– Redblacks and Als trade two and outs as the defenses flex their muscles

– Jamill Smith gets nailed on a punt return but to his credit hangs onto the ball

– Burris gets hot and completes back to back long passes to Dobson Collins for 28 yards and Matt Carter for another 33 yards, bringing the ball to the Als 3 yard line

Dobson Collins makes a big play

– Chevon Walker caps off the 65-yard, 3 play drive with a 3-yard rushing TD

– Als return man Larry Taylor exposes the Redblacks special teams coverage by rumbling 40 yards on the ensuing kickoff before being shoved out of bounds

– Troy Smith persists in his belief that his receivers are ten feet tall and his passes sail over open Als receivers

– An Als kicker wearing #00 (no 7) boots a  33 yard FG

– Quarter ends with Burris hitting Kierrie Johnson for another long first down gain

– Score is 7-4 Redblacks after 15 minutes

2nd Quarter:

– After an Als offside, Burris hits a wide open Johnson for a 36 yard catch and run which brings the ball to the 1

– Shrugging off a poor start, Burris now has 5 straight completions

– Walker gets his 2nd TD of the game waltzing in from the 1

– Larry Taylor has another huge kickoff return, ensuring the Redblacks special teams meeting on Monday morning will be laced with profanity

– Under heavy pressure Troy Smith scrambles half-way to Ottawa before finding Duron Carter for a 1st down

– Redblacks move the ball well on their next possession thanks to catches by Collins, Lavoie, Henry² (Burris to Marcus Henry), Walker and Delahunt

– Newly signed Brett Maher is wide on a 40-yard FG but Redblacks still pick up a rouge

– Rod Black’s talking points of the quarter are former Ticats and Chip Cox’s 2013 season

– Jason Pottinger has a crunching special teams tackle

– The Als’ not-James-Bond kicker #00 (Alavardo) makes a 27-yard FG

– With 1:22 left in the half, Burris leads the Redblacks on an 8 play, 85-yard drive in 1:16; Paris Jackson and Henry² both make impressive grabs to keep the drive alive which ends with a passing TD to Walker, his 3rd TD of the game.

Chevy walks in untouched

– Hats rain down and Walker is quickly buried under an avalanche of caps from the R-Nation fans who made the trek to Montreal

– Score going into half is 22-7 for the good guys

3rd Quarter:

– Redblacks kickoff but quickly get the ball back thanks to heavy pressure forcing another Troy Smith incompletion and a Brandon Lang sack

– Burris, Walker and the rest of the Redblacks starters come out for another series that ends in a punt for a rouge before being pulled for the night

– Rod Black’s talking point of the quarter is Troy Smith’s inaccuracy

– On the Redblacks next possession, Thomas DeMarco enters the game

– Two plays later, Justin Palardy shanks a punt and the Redblacks are flagged for no yards, giving the Als great field position

– Tanner Marsh enters at QB for the Als

– Safety, pilot, CBA negotiator and free thinker Eric Fraser limps off the field after making a tackle with 7:12 left in the quarter

– Als kicker Sean Whyte makes a 19 yard FG to cut the Redblacks lead to 13

– Paul LaPolice talks about how coaches want to see “Nice, big, tall butts” when they look at their offensive line, Rod Black giggles

– WR Travon Patterson goes offside and DeMarco gets sacked

– Facing 3rd and a CN Tower, the Redblacks punt

– Quarter comes to a close on a turnover on downs when the Redblacks stuff the Als on a 3rd and 1 run

4th Quarter:

– Starting on the Als 25, Redblacks extend their lead to 26-10 after Brett Maher makes a 17-yard field goal

– Announced attendance at McGill Stadium is just over 18,000, undoubtedly bolstered by the legions of R-Nation who drove over to get their first look at the team in person

– DB Eddie Elder blitzes in untouched and ensures Marsh will need an ice bath with a blindside sack

– Rod Black’s talking points of the 4th quarter include waxing sentimental about cut down day and how meaningless the pre-season is as teams just want the regular season to start

– Danny O’Brien enters at QB with 7:04 left in the game but fails to move the ball

– You know it’s the pre-season when Henry Burris has a dance off with Jovon Johnson on the sidelines, independent judges confirm the Burris win

– 5:21, with an Als player down, Rod Black uses the word fermented, a 1st on TSN’s Friday Night Football history

– Alex Brink enters at QB for the Als and is quickly sacked by Zack Evans

– Als turn the ball over on downs again

– REDBLACKS WIN! Final score 26-10 for the out-of-towners!


Final Thoughts:

The Redblacks got their 1st win in franchise history and even if it was only a pre-season one, it still counts and is a monkey off the young franchise’s back. There were many positive takeaways from this game; Burris went 17-of-22 for 247 yards and a TD in one half of work and running back Chevon Walker continued to show a nose for the goal line with 3 TDs. The offense was aggressive and stretched the field with long completions; Burris’ arm looks as strong as ever. The defense was also very solid, shutting the Als out of the endzone and bringing heavy pressure all night long. On the negative side, the Redblacks kick coverage teams continue to struggle as they consistently gave up long returns. They really need to tighten up their tackling or special teams will cost them during the regular season. With the win the Redblacks pre-season is over and it will be interesting to see who survives tomorrow’s final cuts. With a bye week coming up, the Redblacks will have a lot of time (13 days) to prepare for their Week 2 showdown with the Bombers in Winnipeg.


– All images from and Scott Grant Photography