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Around the CFL: September 14, 2006

<p>There was The Toast, when receiver <strong>Nik Lewis</strong> pretended the football was a champagne bottle and proceeded to fill his teammates' imaginary glasses with it. And the entire group simultaneously staged a drink from their glasses before falling and stumbling.</p>

Let's see now.


There was The Toast, when receiver Nik Lewis pretended the football was a champagne bottle and proceeded to fill his teammates' imaginary glasses with it. And the entire group simultaneously staged a drink from their glasses before falling and stumbling.


And then there was The Bobsled, when four players lined up in a sitting position behind receiver Jeremaine Copeland, who led the crew through creatively choreographed twists and turns.


There was The Stripper, when receiver Ken-Yon Rambo climbed up an imaginary pole and, well, I'll spare the details of that one.


And then there was last week, when all of the above players took part in The Relay Race, using the football as a baton on the track behind the end zone at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium.


And these were just some of the dances and celebrations displayed by the Calgary Stampeders after touchdowns in recent games.


There have been more, to be sure, by the Stamps and by players with other teams in the CFL -- and the league is now concerned that it has become far too excessive and much too annoying.


League executives are so concerned, in fact, that they just might implement a rule -- before the playoffs -- that would prohibit end-zone celebrations. That’s the word from CFL sources, one of whom revealed to Metro that the idea of levying a 15-yard penalty for "excessive celebration" was discussed this week.


If instituted, the penalty would be called taunting, a la the NFL and U.S. college football, and it would be applied on ensuing kickoffs, the source said.


"The consensus is that these dances, or whatever you want to call them, have gotten out of hand," the source said. "It almost seems like some players put more thought into dancing than playing. Many fans like it, sure, but most coaches think it wastes players’ energy and that it unfairly rubs salt into the wounds of defences."


Among the coaches who oppose the shenanigans are the two in Alberta. Edmonton's Danny Maciocia says the CFL has cheerleaders for dancing. And Calgary's Tom Higgins says: "When you go overboard, I think you are taunting. It's something the league needs to address."


Strangely, it's Higgins' Stampeders who've come up with the wackiest celebrations – and they insist they won’t stop.


"Write this at the top of the damn paper," Copeland urged Calgary Herald reporter Michael Petrie earlier this week. "Put in, 'THEY ARE NOT GOING TO STOP!' '' said Copeland, emphatically.


"Now," said Rambo. "they're going to get worse. This is not the NFL. It's not the No Fun League. It's the CFL. This is the fun league and that's why guys like it. There's more people that like what we do than don't like it. And why should we care about what anyone says?"


The Stamps, in fact, don't even care what Higgins says. Although the coach abhors the celebrations, finding them inappropriate, excessive and borderline disrespectful, here's what Copeland told Petrie: "To tell you the truth, we probably wouldn't stop if (Higgins) told us to. But he knows that's part of our game and guys on the team love it, too. Ain't nobody going to quit because coach Higgins won't make us quit. It's part of the game. Everybody does it."


Higgins is fearful that he might strip the Stamps of their enthusiasm if he orders them to refrain from touchdown celebrations, so he won't.


The league, however, may take care of the issue for him in the not-too-distant future.





• Copeland, incidentally, insists that he and his mates don't come up with pre-conceived celebrations after their TDs.


"Everyone thinks we're wasting time, sitting around choreographing this stuff," he said. "We're not. We just throw it together. Don't forget, we've got rhythm, we're black, we're from the south, we do it all the time. You've got to factor all that in. It's automatic that once you jump in, you can figure it out."





Michael (Pinball) Clemons doesn't spend much of his time concerning himself with end-zone dances.


"To tell you the truth," he said, "I don't even see them. After we score a touchdown, I find myself getting ready on the sidelines for what's coming next.


"But I would hate to see the CFL turn into the NFL -- the No Fun League. Maybe there has to be a line drawn somewhere, I don't know, but let's not make it taboo to express pleasure after scoring touchdowns."





• Sorry, but Jesse Lumsden's second coming is not going to revive the Hamilton Pussy-Cats.


This is a team that is 2-11. It has lost five consecutive games. It hasn't scored an offensive touchdown in three games. It has turned the ball over 22 times in three games. It stinks.


It's going to take more than the arrival of a Canadian running back with a shaky knee to get this team rejuvenated. It's going to take a complete overhaul, for starters.





• By the way, the CFL's trade deadline is Tuesday night, and I'm hearing the Pussy-Cats are talking to the Roughriders about a deal that would send Corey Holmes back to Saskatchewan.


Holmes might just be expendable with Lumsden around, and the Riders would be eager to welcome him back. Remember, Holmes was the premier player in the Western Division last year, when he excelled for the Riders.





Danny Barrett is still not off the hot seat in Saskatchewan, by the way.


If the Riders lose their next two games, don't be surprised if he's replaced as head coach by Kent Austin, the team's former quarterback.

Regardless of how the team does this season -- even if it makes it to the Grey Cup game -- don't be surprised if Austin is the Riders' new head coach before the start of next season.





• Don't look now, but Ricky Williams is ready to return to the Toronto lineup and probably will be in the backfield when the Argos play next week.

Williams, in case you've forgotten, is the former NFL star who came to the CFL on loan from the NFL's Miami Dolphins after he was suspended a fourth time down there for using drugs. He didn't do much with the Argos before breaking an arm.


Williams was replaced by John Avery, who did well but has a knee injury that will keep him sidelined for several more weeks.


Also the feature back for the Argos in several games this year has been Jeff Johnson, a product of York University who, according to former CFL-star-turned-CBC-analyst Darren Flutie, is easily the best of the three.





David Asper, who runs the National Post in Toronto and attends law school in Winnipeg, wants to buy the Blue Bombers.


He's the chairman of this year's Grey Cup committee (the game's in Winnipeg) and is a lifelong fan of the Bombers. He used to be their chairman, as well, and he's credited by many Winnipegers and CFLers as the man who saved the franchise when it was in jeopardy of folding a few years ago.





• Everyclub in the CFL is over the salary cap this year -- lame-duck commissioner Tom Wright isn't even enforcing it -- so that means few, if any, will make money.


As a result, there are rumblings that the CFLmay go to a longer schedule for the regular season next year.More games willgive the clubs a chance to recover some of the money they lost this year. Much depends on whether the league restores a ninth franchise in Ottawa.


While the CFL's franchise commitee appears to be satisfied with any of the three groupsbidding to own a new Ottawa team next year, B.C. Lions owner David Braley has voiced opposition. He believes Ottawa shouldn't begin play until the 2008 season. At this point, it looks like he's being outvoted.


Braley, however, has established a reputation for getting his own way. That's why his detractors say he's the real commissioner of the CFL.





• And, for those of you who need to know, Jesse "The Bachelor" Palmer still isn't married, but he's been dating a German model for the past eight months and, I hear, it's getting fairly serious.


Palmer, of course, joined the Montreal Alouettes' practice roster this week. His father, Bill, is the front man for one of the three groups hoping to be rewarded the next Ottawa franchise in the CFL.


Bill is a former member of the Ottawa Rough Riders and has made arrangements to purchase the Rough Riders name from the club's former owner, Horn Chen, who owns the rights. Bill Palmer's partners, by the way, are all U.S. businessmen, some of whom own pieces of minor-league baseball franchises.


Needless to say, if Palmer's group is awarded the new Ottawa franchise, it would make arrangements to sign Jesse.


Of course, Jesse would not qualify as Ottawa's first Canadian quarterback. The Riders used to have a Canadian QB named Russ Jackson. He wasn't bad.



Message from Marty York:

After about three decades of covering the CFL in newspapers, magazines, on national television and on radio, the folks who run Metro newspapers have given me the opportunity to report on the league in a new and efficient way -- online, right here at


www.metronews.ca

. Here, I will have the space and freedom to cover the league the way that will best serve you. My reports will be updated at least twice a week and will include information you're not likely to find elsewhere. I will also give you my weekly CFL picks. And I welcome email from CFL fans -- send them to

marty.york@metronews.ca

. I'll publish some from time to time. I'm very excited about this venture, and I hope you will be, too.

 
 
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