Fans welcome Calgary Stampeders home after Grey Cup victory

Fans welcome Calgary Stampeders home after Grey Cup victory
How about a World Cup of Canadian Football?
Darcie Cooper and friends cheer on the Calgary Stampeders in the Grey Cup at Schanks North in Calgary on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. Darren Makowichuk / Postmedia

Calgarians dressed in their Stampeders jerseys filled local establishments Sunday evening as they cheered their team to victory in the Grey Cup.

When you think about how many of these mainstays could be moving on this winter, the significance of Sundays 27-16 win over Ottawa really starts to sink in. Some members of this core group might be trying their hands south of the border, others may be moving up elsewhere in this league, and some others might be saying goodbye to professional football all together. Now victorious in 2018, its a good time for this group to reflect on all theyve accomplished.

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While this year’s game took place a lot closer to home than the previous two championship games in Ontario, many longtime fans who didn’t snag tickets to the sold-out final in Edmonton opted to join viewing parties at Calgary bars and restaurants.

Its hard to imagine a Calgary football team without Bo Levi Mitchell at quarterback. Since taking over the starting reins in 2014, Mitchell has two Most Outstanding Player nods, a pair of Grey Cup MVP awards, and most importantly, two championship rings he can wear forever. With all he accomplished in 2018, though, it should surprise no one if Mitchell isnt under centre in Calgary to start next season.

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At Home and Away on 17th Avenue S.W., Jonathan Stoddart and a group of his friends reserved a spot in front of the sports bar’s big screen. He said after heartbreaking losses for the Stamps in the 2016 and 2017 championships, he had a feeling the team would triumph against the Ottawa Redblacks this year.

Soon to be 25, Singleton has back-to-back season of 123 tackles and major CFL awards under his belt in three stellar seasons. Thurman is soon to be 24 and has been in an impact playmaker in two seasons with Calgary. And Micah Johnson, while a little older at 30, just completed one of the most dominant seasons from an interior lineman this league has ever seen. Of course theyd be on the radar.

Fans across the room erupted into cheers and whistles as the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter, and were on their feet as the Stamps claimed the CFL title.

“I was at the Toronto Grey Cup and so happy to see them win this one,” she said. “They’ve worked so hard for it. Our city is super proud of the team.”

Dillabough said Sunday’s victory “totally” makes up for the overtime loss to the Redblacks in Toronto two years ago.

“I’ve been going to the games with my dad since I was a little girl,” she said. “We’re season ticket holders and we’re happy to support the team.”

Stoddart, who has been a Stamps fan since moving to Calgary 19 years ago, called the team a “dominant force.”

Then theres defensive back Brandon Smith who just won his third Grey Cup in his 10th CFL season. Knowing the season he just had, it wouldnt surprise anyone to see him back for season 11 in red and white. Similarly, though, theres been enough talk this might be Smiths last season; is there a better way to go out after a decade with the Stampeders?

“Every year it seems like they’re right in the mix,” he said. “They might have lost the last two Grey Cups, but you don’t get there three years in a row without having a solid organization and a good team.”

Ian Choveaux, his wife and their seven-month-old were also among the fans cheering the Stamps on at Home and Away. Choveaux said his son, who took in the game wearing a miniature Calgary Flames jersey and ear-protecting headphones, seemed to like when the crowd erupted with excitement, such as with the record-setting touchdown to end the first half of the game.

And you cant mention this teams core without bringing up DeVone Claybrooks early in the conversation. Calgarys defensive coordinator is loving his decision to stand pat last off-season and pull out of Montreals head coaching search. But make no mistake: this guy is one of the hottest coaching commodities, regardless of country or league.

With the third Grey Cup appearance in a row behind them, and now with a victory under their belt, Stamps fans are already looking ahead to next year’s showdown, which will be held on home turf at McMahon Stadium.

In so many ways, Sunday was all about redemption for the Stampeders. Well, in this instance they got some in the karmic form. Im sure it ranks right near the bottom of the list of significant achievements for Calgary on Sunday, but I thought it was a nice little cherry on top of their outstanding sundae (apologies for the truly awful pun).

“We’ve got to make sure Bo Levi (Mitchell) stays in the red uniform, and it would be great to return to the Grey Cup on home soil,” Stoddart said.

I dont know whether the 106th Grey Cup presented by Shaw was the last hurrah for this core group of Calgary Stampeders, but theres enough to suggest it was. If Sunday was indeed their final salvo, this group of Stamps regulars will finish things on the highest note possible and erase so much heartbreak of the prior two years.

A public rally to celebrate the Stamps’ championship is planned for Tuesday, from noon to 1 p.m., at Municipal Plaza.

The Grey Cup was great (when isnt it). Appointment watching, really. Happy for Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders. And how about those Ottawa Redblacks. The Ottawa Senators are the only team in the NHL who can say the CFL team in their city is cutting their grass. Good for the Lumberjacks.

The one problem with jumping to that conclusion — that Nichols is hovering in the middle of the pack of starting pivots in the CFL — is you can’t definitively say whether this is caused by a dropoff in his play, or that of his receivers. Take a quick glance at the top receivers in the CFL in 2018 and you see there is only one Bomber in the top 20. Ottawa has three receivers in the top 20, and Calgary, even after losing Kamar Jorden, Marken Michels, Reggie Begelton and DaVaris Daniels to season-ending injuries, have two.

I know this is a hockey blog, but in honour of the Grey Cup – and they did look like they were skating out there — I wanted to share an idea. (Besides, I can only write about William Nylander so much.)

All three teams had winning records in the CFL regular season, and records of at least 6 and 3 or better at home. All three have staunch defences, as they allowed the three fewest point totals in the CFL. Their offences threw the three fewest interception totals, and they were numbers one, two and three when it came to forcing the most turnovers. All three teams can run the ball — Ottawa and Winnipeg have the two top rushers in the CFL — and all three have balanced attacks.

Ive been lucky enough to stumble across commissioner Randy Ambrosie a couple of times this fall. The mans got a great deal of energy and a lot of ideas. Im on board with the Atlantic Schooners, by the way.

All three teams had winning records in the CFL regular season, and records of at least 6 and 3 or better at home. All three have staunch defences, as they allowed the three fewest point totals in the CFL. Their offences threw the three fewest interception totals, and they were numbers one, two and three when it came to forcing the most turnovers. All three teams can run the ball — Ottawa and Winnipeg have the two top rushers in the CFL — and all three have balanced attacks.

Ambrosie is big on internationalizing grid-iron football. Hes not talking about placing CFL teams outside Canada, but tapping on those markets where the gridiron game has taken roots. He was telling me about all kinds of football programs, particularly in Germany and Japan. Sure, they play the four-down version.

Well, you can certainly start with the argument that one of these teams plays in the much softer Eastern division, and that helps their chances immeasurably, but the RedBlacks have also won a Grey Cup of late, beating this year’s Grey Cup champion in 2016, in year three their short existence. In fact, they have been to the Grey Cup three times now, during their first five years in the league.

Play it in spring, before training camp. Gather up a Team Europe and Team Asia from the vast gridiron programs over there, and teach them the three-down version. You have plenty of Canadians and Americans under CFL contracts who know the game. You might throw in a few recent college grads and a handful of free agents since it will be prior to training camps.

Well, you can certainly start with the argument that one of these teams plays in the much softer Eastern division, and that helps their chances immeasurably, but the RedBlacks have also won a Grey Cup of late, beating this year’s Grey Cup champion in 2016, in year three their short existence. In fact, they have been to the Grey Cup three times now, during their first five years in the league.

Four teams: Canada, United States, Europe, Asia. One round robin. Then the top two square off for the World Cup of Canadian Football, one Sunday in May.

Canada might be weak at the quarterback position, but the gold medal game would be Canada vs. The United States.

Id watch. Bet the rest of the country would too. Voila, two must-watch Canadian football games a year, bracketing and drawing attention to a league that – in the East anyway – needs attention.

The Grey Cup was great (when isnt it). Appointment watching, really. Happy for Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders. And how about those Ottawa Redblacks. The Ottawa Senators are the only team in the NHL who can say the CFL team in their city is cutting their grass. Good for the Lumberjacks.

I know this is a hockey blog, but in honour of the Grey Cup – and they did look like they were skating out there — I wanted to share an idea. (Besides, I can only write about William Nylander so much.)

Ive been lucky enough to stumble across commissioner Randy Ambrosie a couple of times this fall. The mans got a great deal of energy and a lot of ideas. Im on board with the Atlantic Schooners, by the way.

Ambrosie is big on internationalizing grid-iron football. Hes not talking about placing CFL teams outside Canada, but tapping on those markets where the gridiron game has taken roots. He was telling me about all kinds of football programs, particularly in Germany and Japan. Sure, they play the four-down version.

Play it in spring, before training camp. Gather up a Team Europe and Team Asia from the vast gridiron programs over there, and teach them the three-down version. You have plenty of Canadians and Americans under CFL contracts who know the game. You might throw in a few recent college grads and a handful of free agents since it will be prior to training camps.

Four teams: Canada, United States, Europe, Asia. One round robin. Then the top two square off for the World Cup of Canadian Football, one Sunday in May.

Canada might be weak at the quarterback position, but the gold medal game would be Canada vs. The United States.

Id watch. Bet the rest of the country would too. Voila, two must-watch Canadian football games a year, bracketing and drawing attention to a league that – in the East anyway – needs attention.