Despite all the adversity it has faced off the field, the CFL has survived largely because it has always offered an exciting product on the field.
Historically, the league featured lots of scoring, close games, plenty of long passes and wonderful catches, dramatic special-teams plays and fast-paced action.
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Most CFL games this season have been painfully dull.
Three of the four games this past weekend, for instance, were one-sided snoozers and the only match that was remotely entertaining — a victory by Montreal in Edmonton — produced a mere 34 points.
Hamilton couldn’t even score a point. Calgary couldn’t score a touchdown and Toronto could only emerge with a touchdown in the final minute, on a fumble recovery.
Turnouts at CFL stadiums are decreasing, understandably, and, with a lame-duck commissioner in Tom Wright, nothing is happening at the league level to examine just why the product has deteriorated.
“It’s ridiculous,” Edmonton receiver Ed Hervey said.
“People are soon going to stop watching the games on TV and stop caring because it’s become bad.”
Some of the theories circulating among the players:
- Officials are calling too many penalties.
- There’s a serious dearth of decent backup quarterbacks, as illustrated in Toronto and Hamilton after Damon Allen and Jason Maas were injured.
- The new footballs manufactured this season are causing problems for QBs. Allen was on The Fan 590 yesterday reiterating what was printed in this column earlier this season — that the new balls are heavier and more difficult to throw.
- Video replays, also introduced this season, are slowing down games.
- This is how much the CFL has changed: At this point, one could argue that two running backs — Winnipeg’s Charles Roberts and Calgary’s Joffrey Reynolds — should be the finalists for the CFL’s outstanding-player award.
Not since 1984, when Winnipeg’s Willard Reaves received more votes than Hamilton’s Rufus Crawford — have two RBs been finalists for the award. And it was 1968 when it happened before that — Toronto’s Bill Symons beat out Saskatchewan’s George Reed.
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Marty York’s column appears Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen for Marty on The ROCK 94.9 FM, Monday and Friday at 8:40 a.m.