View From The Stands: Bring On 2019
Published: Friday, May 17th 2019, 7:05am
by Sheldon Jones (@sheldonjones83)
My favorite time of year has come and I am beyond excited for the 2019 CFL season to get underway. From news that the CFL and The CFLPA have come together and "tentatively" agreed on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement to a few key signings that the Roughriders have announced, things are heating up as the team looks to head north to Saskatoon to begin training camp on Saturday. With that being said I humbly offer up some news and notes and observations to help get us ready for the new season.
- Kudos to TSN's Matthew Scianitti, Farhan Lalji and 3rd Down Nations Justin Dunk for reporting on the bargaining and digging to get the details of the new CBA deal for us fans. It's also nice to see positive views on the CFL being tweeted out instead of the negative views of a certain member of the media...
- Speaking of the details, welcome to #RiderNation Derek Taylor. I have been listening to the SportsCage daily and have thoroughly enjoyed his take on the Riders and sports in general. He was a great hire for CKRM and can't wait to hear how he does and his touchdown calls as the new Voice of the Riders. - Jeromy O'Day deserves a gold star for his first official CFL Draft as a GM. Realizing that the Riders one true weakness was National receivers he went out and drafted 2 excellent prospects in Justin McInnis and Brayden Lenius. With an anticipated pro ready Mitch Picton and established vet Patrick Lavoie could the Riders be in the position to have the Canadian Air Force 2.0? I also look forward to see how his wildcard pick Chris Judge works out. Apparently a special teams demon but has been out of football for a number of years. Of course he is the brother to LB Cameron Judge and if anything else gives me a better chance to possibly shake Tealc's hand at a home game this year. (Both Cameron and Chris Judge are sons of actor Christopher Judge who famously played Tealc on Stargate: SG1)
- Rumored things about the new CBA that intrigue me? The 3 year health insurance and 20 percent revenue sharing should be considered wins for the CFLPA. Next season's increase to the minimum salary is great to see as well but I had hoped to see the cap go up by more than 50K per year. The 9 day "tampering" window is a welcome change and should help players and teams see how they fit and make everyone's life a lot easier come free agency.
- Seeing a lot of veteran American players very vocal (and not in a good way) of the tentative deal is unfortunate. Hopefully when the full details come out these players will toe the line and get back to tweeting about breaking records and taking shots at one another (playfully of course)
- When news came a couple weeks ago that BC would be releasing veteran LB Solomon Ellimimium I was hoping that O'Day and Co. might be able to sway him to Riderville but wasn't convinced we would be able to afford another All-Star calibre player on an already stacked defense. When news broke that the Riders had in fact signed Ellimimium I couldn't believe it. I can not wait to see him and Manny Arceneaux when they play against BC 3 times this year with the obvious chips on their shoulders.
- In addition to Soly the Riders also signed home town Super Bowl Champion Jon Ryan. It's a feel good story seeing the former Sheldon Williams Spartan's career come full circle after starting his professional career in Winnipeg for two seasons before playing in the NFL for 12 seasons with the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks. I am sad to see Josh Bartel leave the Riders but am hopeful that we can improve on our near league bottom punting game. Some times nice guys do unfortunately finish last.
- I was happy to see that the Riders listened to fans (and me in particular) about the need to improve their game day experience. Having theme games and half time concerts this year is a good start but I hope that the in stadium host and sponsors come up with fun interactive ways to get the crown hyped and ready to go. Maybe we will even get to see the return of the Big Rider helmet for the player entrance as rumor had it Chris Jones was not a fan and that was why the riders ceased to use it.
- With Uber now officially operating in Regina I am interested to see how the surge pricing will work before and after games. Excited to try out an Uber in the near future to see if it is as nifty as people say it is.
All in all, I am extremely hyped for this season to start and can't wait to get back inside Mosaic Stadium to cheer on our team. I am hopeful that our woeful offense from last year will get better with the addition of William Powell and a healthy Zach Collaros. Our defense should be dominant again as it looks like new DC Jason Shivers will look to I prove on Chris Jones proven system and the addition of Mica Johnson and Solomon Ellimimium. Losing Willie Jefferson will hurt but our actual biggest loss will be felt by not having the Swiss Army Knife Tobi Antigua in our defensive backfield.
The only thing that could make me more excited is if the Riders announced that the are retiring "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate" as our 4th quarter stretch song, but I won't hold my breath on that one.