Things we learned at Redblacks mini-camp

By: Santino Filoso

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The Redblacks took an important step in their development this week as the team came together for mini-camp in Richmond, VA. The historic gathering gave coaches and management their first look at their players on the field (albeit without any equipment, due to league rules) and allowed the team to begin developing some chemistry. Here are a few takeaways from the three-day camp:

Marcel Desjardins is the anti-Burris, in that he seemingly never cracks a smile. After all the tough legwork he’s done to get the franchise to this point, the guy has to be giddy inside to finally see his players on an actual field, doing football things. Not that you’d ever be able to tell from his body language though. I think Desjardins will only smile when the Redblacks win back-to-back Grey Cups, and even then only if they’re blowouts.

Henry Burris could make a hell of a weatherman. Smooth clear voice, check. Million dollar smile, check. Ability to concentrate in averse conditions (Fred Rouse), check. Strokes his audience’s ego with subtle comments, check. Interesting random prop (banana peels), check.

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– You heard it here first: there’s no chance Kevin Glenn shows up to training camp. This was the Redblacks first organized event in team history. You can’t overstate how important it was for all the guys to get together and to start building some chemistry. This would’ve been the perfect opportunity for Glenn to silence his critics and play the good solider until another team’s pivot went down, paving the way for him to be traded. By failing to show up at this mini-camp, he’s alienated himself from the guys on the roster and missed out on a crucial bonding experience. One thing’s for certain: with Burris, Thomas DeMarco, Matt Faulkner and the newly signed Corey Leonard, the Redblacks have a bevy of strong arms. The only person Glenn’s hurting right now is himself.

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Keith Shologan is happy to be out of Regina, even if it’s only for a few days. Who can blame him, considering the seasons in Regina are Winter (October to mid-May) and Spring/Summer (July to early September).

Shologan interview

– The numbers on the Redblacks jerseys are going to be unique in the CFL, as they’ll feature a small notch, just like the R on the buzz saw in the logo. Personally I love this touch and can’t wait to see what the finished product will look like when the uniforms are finally and officially revealed on May 10th.

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According to the Ottawa Citizen, Eric Fraser is the Redblacks CFLPA rep. Between mini-camp drills he took some time to meet with the Redblacks veterans and updated them on the latest CBA situation. From his tweets you can see that Fraser is a very intelligent and reasonable guy, and hopefully this translates in a positive manner during the CBA negotiations. Also he got sore feet:

– R-Nation cannot be contained and we are already everywhere. We’re going to have strong showings at every stadium this season so that our boys know they’ll never be alone in enemy territory. Zack and Erika Wood got an early start on the road tripping by heading down to Richmond to watch the Redblacks practice.

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– Remember the name Jordan Roberts (RB). He was an absolute monster in college putting up 50 TDs in just three seasons at the University of Charleston and sounds like he really had a strong camp. I think he’ll be an impact player and quickly turn into a fan favourite.

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– The mistakes the doomed the Renegades will not be repeated by the Redblacks. The team had a ton of French content in their camp coverage, with tweets in both English and French, interviews with players like WR Simon Le Marquand and FB Patrick Lavoie and used both languages in their daily video updates. Smart move by management to keep everyone happy.

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– The Redblacks team Desjardins has put together looks very fast. Bodies have been flying around and everyone from reporters to coaches to the players themselves have been commenting on it. That being said, take it with a grain of salt as it’s easy to look fast without helmets and pads and when you’re not being fully jammed at the line.

– Lastly, there’s something different about this team, it isn’t your normal expansion group. The feeling of optimism surrounding the players and the quality of their resumes gives the Redblacks more than a fighting chance out of the gate and you could even make the argument that they’re already better than some teams (hint: Winnipeg). GM Desjardins hammered this message home at the team’s first meeting when he told the players that “from this point forward, we are the Ottawa Redblacks, not the expansion Ottawa Redblacks”. That’s exactly the mentality the team needs to adopt to be successful and it’s good to see it expressed from management.

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“From this point forward, we are the Ottawa Redblacks, not the expansion Ottawa Redblacks”.

With our first look at the team in the books, what position do you think is the Redblacks strongest?

@RedBlackGade

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Interview with “Redblacks Theme Song” creator Nevill Carney (@NevillCarney)

By: Santino Filoso

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Today I’m interviewing Nevill Carney, one of the guys behind the “Redblacks Theme Song”, a fast paced anthem that’s been rocking R Nation. Though conceived and edited by Carney, the song itself was written and performed by Lucas Haneman, a close friend. Make sure you give both Lucas and Nevill a follow on Twitter to stay up to date on all of their latest projects:

@NevillCarney
@LucasHaneman

RR: How long have you and Lucas Haneman known each other and been making music together?

NC: I have known Lucas since Grade 7. We both grew up in Kanata (west end of Ottawa) and have been friends ever since. He is the musician while I am the videographer, essentially, I am the eyes and he is the ears. Believe it or not, all of the music that you hear in the RedBlacks theme music is Lucas! I guided him along what I was hoping to achieve but his talent carried it through to where it is now. He never ceases to amaze me!

From start to finish how long did it take you guys to put the whole thing together?

From start to finish, it took about a day and a half to come up with the musical aspect – Lucas is that talented! Once we established that we wanted to keep it simple enough for anyone to hum along to (and have a hint of 80s rock in there for good measure! – think Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart”) we made quick work with the video. The visual aspect took half a day to shoot but two or three solid days to get the edit where I felt it was appealing enough to release on Youtube. So, all in, I would say five days of total time to complete it.

Were you surprised at how quickly the Redblacks and R Nation embraced your song?

In the age of social media, it didn’t surprise me that we would get a few responses for the theme. But the amount of POSITIVE feedback that we have received is ludicrous, especially at this time of year when football is an afterthought for most people focused on hockey. We couldn’t have gotten far without support; R Nation rocks!

Has there been any talk of your song being used at home games next season, and if so what would it mean to you guys?

When I initially thought of the idea for creating the tune, my end goal was to have it used by the team for when the players come out onto the field during home games. If it were to become the ‘official’ theme of the Redblacks, that would be amazing! It would mean a lot to both Lucas and myself as we have wanted to contribute in some small way to the Ottawa community. If it gets people jacked, excited and/or pumped, we have done our job! Hopefully people continue to support it so that it is heard over the sound system at TD Place at Lansdowne.

Are you guys big CFL fans, or was this just a case of being in the right place at the right time?

I wouldn’t say that I am a big CFL fan…yet! Reason being that I don’t like hopping on any other team’s bandwagon and cheering for anyone but Ottawa. I was pretty young when the Rough Riders left in ’96, and the year the Renegades left was when I was hoping to attend my first live football game at Lansdowne. With the announcement that the Redblacks were coming in 2014, I jumped at the chance and got season tickets on the new south side.

Lucas, on the other hand, due to his being visually impaired (many people have expressed shock when we tell them this detail!) is not able to observe sports the same way you or I do. Regardless, he does enjoy supporting his home town teams and maintains a high spirit each and everyday that I have known him.

What’s your favourite Lansdowne memory?

Having missed out on CFL games growing up, my favourite Lansdowne memory would have to be with the 67’s. There was one season (2000-2001 season) where the team went on a tear and won the OHL championship trophy (the J. Ross Robertson Cup). I always enjoyed, at the end of each game, having a chance to meet the players and collect signatures. I still have my signed pennant on the wall from guys such as Jon Zion, Joey Talbot, Zenon Konopka and Brendan Bell.

Which Redblacks player are you most excited to see take the field next year and why?

The Redblacks player that I am most excited to take to the field this coming season would be either Henry Burris or John Delahunt. It will be interesting to see if Burris can shake off both last year’s Grey Cup loss and the expansion woes of a new team. Plus, he seems like such an awesome, likeable guy! John Delahunt was with Hamilton last year and is a local guy who played with the Kanata Knights/Ottawa Sooners – it’s hard to not cheer on a guy from your home town!

How will you follow this song up? Are you guys planning on making any more Redblacks related music?

I would love to follow this theme song up with something else. Some of the comments we have received have been ‘negative’ in that we didn’t make the video funny enough or have ‘creative lyrics.’ That was never the point of this particular theme. It was always about being a predominantly instrumental piece that incorporates the team name in a chant to get both players and fans alike pumped before a game. Maybe eventually we can make a funny chant or something. I would love to make use of the saw blade sound effects for something else! That was a good time incorporating that with the music theme.

Any chance of a parody video in the works?

Chances of a parody video? It might be something fun to do down the line. I would be open to suggestions!

Would you recommend watermelon smashing as a good stress reliever for other Redblacks fans?

Haha, watermelon smashing is definitely a good (yet, costly!) stress reliever for Redblacks fans. Seeing as Saskatchewan is only in town once/twice a season, something else may need to fill in. Stomping on stuffed tiger kitties, perhaps?

Where can people go to check out more of your music?

People can check out more music by going to YouTube and searching “Lucas Haneman” (whom I have helped produce many of his music compilation videos). Here is a link to his channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/LucasHaneman/videos
and here is one of my favourite videos:

I am mostly a video guy but some of my work can be found on YouTube as well under “Nevill Carney”. I split my time in Ottawa/Toronto and work for Discovery on the show “Mighty Ships” while in the Big Smoke.

Thank you very much for your time and I hope to see more Redblacks related songs in the future!

@RedBlackGade

Redblacks QB NON-troversy

By: Santino Filoso

Talk about the kind of press the Redblacks didn’t need. On Feb. 11th, just hours into CFL Free Agency, a couple of angry messages came from Ottawa QB Kevin Glenn’s Twitter account:

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Shortly after the tweets went out, Glenn claimed his account was hacked. The offending tweets were also eventually deleted.

Believe what you like, but it appears Glenn simply committed a social media faux pas and accidentally tweeted something that was meant to be a direct message (DM).

Not exactly the kind of news Ottawa wanted to make on opening day of free agency. The Redblacks subsequently took a lot of (unwarranted) heat for how they have treated Glenn to date, warranted or not. There is definitely more than one school of thought, but let’s take a look at the facts (as I see them, anyway):

1. In Glenn, the Redblacks took the best QB available in the expansion draft.

2. Had Henry Burris been released before the expansion draft things would’ve played out much differently.

3. You cannot fault Redblacks GM Marcel Desjardins for trying to improve the team in adding a QB like Burris, a sure-fire Hall of Famer coming off a Grey Cup appearance. That’s his job.

4. Desjardins probably shouldn’t have anointed Burris the starter at his introductory presser. Some things are best left implied.

5. Glenn woke up the morning the Redblacks signed Burris to find out he’d gone from being a starter to a backup and trade bait.

6. With that said, Glenn was not told he wouldn’t be challenged, ever. Glenn has been around the block long enough to know better.

7. You can’t blame Glenn for being sour; Pro football is a cut-throat business, but these guys are human beings too.

8. While it’s easy to understand why Glenn is upset, for him to let it slip in public is unacceptable, especially on the opening day of Free Agency.

As mentioned, Glenn quickly denied any wrong-doing with the “I’ve been hacked” defense, as below.

On an unrelated note, Glenn’s dog also ate his homework… and playbook.

Some local reporters gave Glenn the benefit of the doubt, but Twitter wasn’t buying it.

I suppose the biggest unknown in all of this is what Glenn may or may not have been promised by Redblacks brass. Seems really unlikely that assurances of a starting job were given. The following comes from the Globe and Mail report on the Expansion Draft:

Although he now has Glenn and DeMarco in tow, Desjardins said he’ll be active in free agency to land other quarterbacks. Toronto’s Zach Collaros, Saskatchewan’s Drew Willy, Hamilton’s Henry Burris and Edmonton’s Matt Nichols are all slated to become free agents in February.

“There’s a couple of good options out there and we’re certainly going to pursue those,” he said. “There’s no reason why we can’t be aggressive in that area.

“We’ve got a veteran, (that) doesn’t mean we can’t add another one. We have a young guy, (that) doesn’t mean we can’t add another. There’s three or four obvious guys out there and we’ll certainly reach out to all of them when the time comes.”

Not sure how much clearer that could be…

Though he might still be upset, Glenn’s best bet is to bide his time. If he ends up staying with Ottawa at some point he’ll get playing time. It’s almost unheard of for a single QB to play an entire season. Or maybe another team loses their starter to a significant injury and the Redblacks feel comfortable enough with DeMarco’s growth to trade Glenn.

As it currently stands, the Redblacks are blessed to have two great QBs in their inaugural season, a luxury the Renegades were denied. They’ve arguably got the strongest depth at QB of any team in the CFL with Burris, Glenn and DeMarco. Good QBs in the CFL are what good goalies are to NHL teams; you can never have too many of them.

In my opinion, this whole episode is a whole lot of fuss about nothing. It’s not as if a player never mis-used social media before. And it certainly isn’t the first time a starter was supplanted by a free agent signing. Glenn should be enough of a pro not to let this kind of thing happen again, and besides, he’s only a play away from being “the guy”.

@RedBlackGade