Thursday & Friday at the Grey Cup

By Nelson Hackewich

Editor’s note: Our friend, fellow CFL fan (Saskatchewan, but try not to hold it against him) and favourite uniform concept designer Nelson Hackewich was kind enough to share some of his thoughts and experiences at this year’s Grey Cup Festival in Edmonton. This is the first of a couple recaps on all the great stuff the festival has to offer. Thanks Nelson! Super jealous!

It was a lengthy eight-hour drive through the frosted Canadian prairie from Regina to Edmonton, which gave me a lot of time to think about who to cheer for this Sunday in the 106th Grey Cup. People will tell you, “you’re from the west how can you not cheer for the west?”, or “the cup has to stay in the east!” But, over the course of the drive, I’ve come up with a few reasons which determined that, although I primarily bleed green, for one weekend in November, I’ll cheer for the Ottawa Redblacks.

Reason #1: Rick Campbell. He’s just a darn decent dude! Back when CFL Week was in Regina, I bumped into Rick almost daily in the Tim Hortons line at Evraz place, where we talked football and his love for Saturday Night Live. Plus, he is linked to not only the Riders, but the Eskimos through his father, the great Hugh Campbell.

Reason #2: The increasingly popular CFL adage of ABC – Anyone But Calgary. I think Stampeders coach Dave Dickenson hit the nail on the head in his West Final post game comments when he told reporters that Canada doesn’t like seeing them in the Grey Cup.

Anyway, onto the festivities!

Grey Cup Thursday

Edmonton has definitely come alive as the hotbed of Canadian football. Everywhere you look it’s decorated businesses, “Grey Cup” food and drink specials and the like. The city is roaring and ready to go! Everywhere you go people are dressed in all 10 CFL team (including the Atlantic Schooners) jerseys and apparel. Bars and restaurants are full and on American thanksgiving, where the NFL generally holds the spotlight, it was almost non-existent as the conversation turned to who is going to win on Sunday. I even heard a conversation about the Las Vegas Posse and Shreveport Pirates.

A smaller crowd strolled the street fest today taking in activations from Shaw (where you could sit in a Redblacks locker stall donning Brad Sinopoli’s jersey and equipment), get some s’mores compliments of TSN, or “Take a Kick at the Can” and see if you can last 8 seconds on a giant can of Twisted Tea (Mechanical bull style). Our night was capped at the outdoor street stage where Winnipeg’s The Watchmen played all their hits! Daniel Greaves (lead vocals) came out in a retro Bombers sweater and opened by stating “I wish the Bombers were here” and closed by asking the crowd “Who are we cheering for on sunday” with a primarily pro-Ottawa response.

Team hospitality rooms open up Friday with the highly anticipated announcement of the Atlantic Canada franchise team name, the CFL fan state of the league, a dip into the Shaw conference center to check out more fan fest activities, performances by Maestro Fresh Wes and Canadian supergroup Toque, capped off by a stop in Riderville and back to the stage to catch The Strumbellas.

Grey Cup Friday

After a quick autograph signing with Saskatchewan WR Namann Roosevelt and Argos WR SJ Green, Canadian hip hop legend Maestro Fresh Wes, Dressed in a special edition Eskimos Damon Allen jersey custom made for the 2018 Grey Cup, got our day going belting out “Let your backbone slide”. Taking shots at current Canadian rap superstar Drake, saying “I’ve been doing this since he’s been on Degrassi” was classic. Wes was followed up by Canadian super group and cover band Toque, featuring Todd Kerns (Age of Electric) Brent Fitz (Slah, Myles Kenedy, Alice Cooper) and Cory Churko (Shania Twain, Live), who played nothing but hits from Loverboy, Streetheart, Chilliwack, and Queen City Kids. True Canadiana and very fitting for the Grey Cup festival.

From there a dip into the Atlantic Kitchen Party for the 10th franchise name unveiling. Seriously, is anyone shocked? There were rumblings early in the week from a few of my media contacts in the league that it would be such. If the Schooners weren’t called the Schooners, it would be crushing not only to the people that host the Atlantic Schooners Kitchen Party year after year, but all of the people that have dreamt of this moment for so long. The font they chose was an interesting “UA Falcon”, which is primarily used by Under Armour teams. Using a white font on a grey stormy background also leaves a lot to be desired. Will they be black and grey? Will they be black and gold?

The night was capped by visits to the #RNation Party, where we bumped into the lovely Redblacks Cheer team, Winnipeg RB Andrew Harris and Ottawa mascot Big Joe (and his forearms). Then a short walk down street fest to Riderville, where we saw performances by the BC Felions dance team, the Alouettes Cheer team and Rider Cheer team.

Saturday, we take in the Grey Cup parade, team walkthroughs at Commonwealth Stadium, a tour of the Oilers beautiful Rogers Arena, and cap the night with a performance by Tim Hicks. Can’t wait!

Thanks for reading!

Follow Nelson on Twitter at @NelsonHackewich.

Follow us on Twitter at @DefendTheR.

Title photo credit: Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

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TBT: The Face of the Renegades; An Interview with Kerry Joseph

By: Santino Filoso

Today we sit down with Kerry Joseph, a former QB for the Ottawa Renegades. Joseph, a former safety for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, broke into the CFL with the Renegades in 2003 and dazzled Ottawa with his talents until the team folded after the 2005 season. Currently a free agent, Joseph is the last QB to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, which he did for the Renegades in 2005, and holds the Ottawa pro football record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass (15) – a record previously held by Russ Jackson.

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RR: As an American coming to Canada, what was your initial impression of Ottawa?

KJ: I was really impressed with Ottawa, at first I thought it would be a really cold foreign country but it was actually a very beautiful place.

How difficult was it for you to make the transition from playing safety to quarterback?

It was actually a very easy transition for me because I grew up playing QB.

What do you feel was your best game as a Renegade?

I would have to say the game against Montreal in 2005, we were down big but came from behind to win in overtime.

The Gliebermans are often criticized for running the Renegades with a circus-like atmosphere. Did any of that trickle down to the players and do you feel they caused unnecessary distractions for the team?

They didn’t do everything perfectly but it was never a distraction for the players, we just wanted to win.

When the Renegades folded in 2006, did you have any idea where you would end up and what was the general mood of the players upon learning that Ottawa would be disbanded?

I didn’t know where I would end up and players were definitely worried as we all knew our careers would be changed.

Looking back on your time in Ottawa, what sticks with you?

The great community and the great time I had with my coaches and teammates.

What motivated you throughout your career? 

The quest to win a championship and to be a great QB.

What’s the best advice you ever received as a player?

The best advice I ever received was to stay humble, stay hungry and to stay focused.

The CFL is famous for it’s wild weather, how did you deal with the elements as QB?

I always just tried to prepare for it as best as possible and otherwise ignore it, we had to play in it anyways.

All QBs get sacked throughout their careers but is there one hit that you’ll always remember?

I got knocked out in Calgary by one of their Defensive Ends.

Which receiver that you played with had the best hands?

Yo Murphy, Andy Fantuz and Fred Stamps

What was your favourite play to run?

A pass play called Pearl, 3 seams to the wide side of the field.

You’ve played on a number of CFL teams, what stadium is the toughest to play at?

Mosaic Stadium.

Do you still keep in touch with any of the guys you played with on the Renegades?

Yes, I stay in touch with quite a few of them.

Looking back at your CFL career, what are you most proud of?

Being part of the 2007 Grey Cup Champs.

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When you first heard the name Redblacks, what was your reaction?

I was mainly wondering where the name came from.

Why do you think football in Ottawa will succeed this time around?

They’ve got a great local ownership group.

Do you think the Redblacks will be competitive in their inaugural season?

Yes I think so, they’ve got the players to be competitive.

Now that you are a free agent, what are your future plans? Have you retired,  will you get into coaching, etc?

Actually I haven’t officially announced my retirement from Pro Football. Some people had taken it upon themselves to announce that for me, but I haven’t said that myself. That being said, at some point in time I definitely see coaching in my future.

Thank you very much for your time Kerry, best of luck in your future endeavours and we hope to see you at a Redblacks game sometime!

http://www.kerryjoseph.com/

@RedBlackGade