Published on May 26, 2008 11:42 PM by dbo.
The initiation of this site was supposed to occur many times, and on Grey Cup Sunday, 2007, in a fit of Getting Things Done, I registered the domain. My plans were to begin the site with a Grey Cup review, leading to some time in the off-season of light posting to prepare the site for the 2008 schedule. My schedule decided not to cooperate, and as December turned to January and then February, I kept saying I could still start with a recap of the Grey Cup. When I finally started to post in April the Grey Cup post was still a priority, but I did not find time for it between all the other posts I was writing and my other workload. So, as the 2008 season is just around the corner, I find myself down to my last chance to put this article out there and have any relevance. So without further ado, my post-2007 Grey Cup review.
The 2007 Grey Cup received increased attention from the media and country, an interesting turn of events that reflects the league’s rejuvenation considering two western teams were involved in the game and Toronto was the host. After Toronto proved through the week that they were deserving hosts once again, hope turned from a good festival to a good game. Unfortunately, it was found that having the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the game can guarantee a great fan atmosphere, but not a well played game.
By all accounts, Toronto served as great hosts for the 95th Grey Cup festival. Not only were there well-attended events, but the city also seemed to have some awareness that they were hosting an important Canadian cultural event. While attendance may have been split 50-50 between locals and out-of-towners, Toronto put on an event of such scale it could not be ignored. The participation of all, whether CFL fans or those curiously drawn in provided Toronto’s Grey Cup festival organizers with a profit of around $5 million, returning Toronto as a destination for the Grey Cup in the future from profit and attention aspects. After a fifteen year absence from Toronto the success of the 2007 Grey Cup is another piece of positive news for the Canadian Football League.
The CBC was broadcasting their final Grey Cup game (for now) after a 55 year relationship with the league and put together their best package to exit on. Reviews of their coverage were positive overall, with some notes on the usual CBC failings in focus and personnel. While the CBC did provide an improved production over anything they have done in the past, they still lacked the interesting content. Pre-game features seemed to have no point and commentators and sideline reporters asked generic questions and reported cliché stories. Their personnel do not have a CFL focus and interest to be able to see stories and find those interesting questions when faced with a less than stellar game. The CBC has provided great coverage of the CFL in the past, but in the last 10-15 years it has become apparent a dedicated sports channel can provide better coverage from personnel whose focus and expertise is on CFL football.
Outside of the of the television coverage of the game itself, the festival week and the game were covered well by media outlets before and after the game. I don’t have counts of the number of news stories published across the country about the Grey Cup, or figures to compare from previous years, but my personal sense was that there was a large jump in the number of articles I saw this year come across my RSS feeds.
Neutral observers noted the game was sloppily played, and the Grey Cup lacked the classic CFL championship best-game-of-year label for the second year in a row. Many ‘Rider fans do not agree, and reveled in their team’s first championship in 18 years. Some ‘Rider fans I know found the game compelling enough to watch again multiple times, while others I know found the game lacking tension, drama and excitement they were used to from Grey Cup contests. The game was close enough to keep those watching interested to the final seconds. What was missing, however, was the offence expected out of these two high-powered teams in an indoor stadium. Winnipeg’s loss of QB Kevin Glenn in the Eastern Final was one factor in the game’s fate. Winnipeg’s defence came pumped up with the knowledge they had rookie QB Ryan Dinwiddie on the offensive side so they couldn’t afford to get into a back-and-forth shootout early on. Nerves and personal pressure on the part of Saskatchewan QB Kerry Joseph also appeared to be a factor. Had those two elements been different, it is hard to say how much more open and different the game might have been. There is no question that the CFL has experienced a defensive shift as a result of increased roster sizes, improved players and changing defensive schemes. The balance to these changes to increase offence are not clear without severely tinkering with the game. It is hard to say what can bring back the offence to the game, and whether future Grey Cups will receive the classic label equal to those of the past.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 23 to 19 to take the 2007 Grey Cup, the symbol of CFL supremacy. A crowd of 52,230 at Rogers Centre in Toronto watched the Roughriders claim the third championship in their history. An all prairie championship, the first between these two teams, was expected to draw less interest due to the two small markets involved. Instead, the English television numbers were up 4% over the 2006 Grey Cup featuring the Montreal Alouettes and B.C. Lions with an average of 3.337 milion people watching. English and French numbers combined were down 12% from the previous year with the absence of the Alouettes, reaching a total of 3.539 million viewers. Predictions were for a much smaller audience prior to the game, but the increasing strength of the CFL was shown again with the telecast ranking 6th in Grey Cup viewership. The CFL would be slightly disappointed that the game was not a better showcase for a lot of returning viewers, both those in attendance in Toronto and watching across the country. As the pattern of declining offence now has emerged, it appears the CFL is serious about looking at the issues that has seen offence drop across the league in the past few years.
That concludes my summary of the coverage and interesting stories from the 2007 Grey Cup. Now, on to the 2008 CFL season and the drive for the 2008 Cup.