I used to have a coach that yelled out: "Special teams for special people" whenever special teams were being practiced.
I don't think there is a more true statement regarding the game of football.
It takes a special guy to play well on special teams, and I'm not talking about their awesome abilities, either. A good special teamer is generally a guy who has a screw loose and has little or no regard for his own safety.
Playing on special teams in the CFL is like playing a game of chicken on a 110-yard field. On all kicking plays, there is one group of crazy guys running full speed at another group of crazy guys.
Whoever is left standing gets an opportunity do it over again later in the game.
If you have ever watched the fight scenes in the movie Braveheart, you can get a feel of what playing special teams is like -- minus the swords and kilts.
Although the kicking game takes up 30% of a tilt, it only gets 10% of the attention in practice and meetings.
Our head coach Tom Higgins realizes the importance of special teams and usually works hand-in-hand with special teams co-ordinator Craig Dickenson to make sure our kicking game gets the time it needs to prepare for a game.
Special teams' coaches get very little time during a practice day to apply their wealth of knowledge and experience. So one would assume they must be gluttons for punishment. (No offence, Coach Dickie!)
Why else would someone take a coaching job that does not allow them the time to execute the way they would like? Why else would a special teams coach take a job where he had his unit change weekly depending on offensive and defensive roster needs? And why else would one take a job in which the majority of time you are working with a kicker?
As I said, those coaches are special, and they make the most of the time given them.
One special teams' coach compared the kicking game to the 'Tree of Life.'
In a nutshell, he explained, 'When you #$&-% up the kicking game, a lot of things happen. First you lose games and then people stop coming to watch the games. As a result, hot dog vendors and such lose their jobs. This puts a strain on the social welfare system, which in turn weakens the economy. That leads the government to declare war on some small country in order to boost the economy. People die and citizens get frustrated with government. Why? Because the 12 men on the field %^#&ed-up the kicking game!'
I did say there were some special birds, did I not?
So, my public service announcement to fans is watch the guys who toil in oblivion on kick plays. They are some of the most hardcore guys you'll ever meet.
HITS TO THE HEAD
- Anyone who saw the replay of Trey Young's TD on the fake field-goal might have noticed he did not seem to care that return man Basheer Levingston was ready to take his head off at the 1-yard line. The truth is Trey did not see Bashir until the last second when he quickly dove over him for the score.
- Mike O'Shea was up to his old tricks again. On the point after Trey's touchdown, old Mike was furious. So he took a 10-yard sprint on the PAT and ear-holed Jay McNeil. Definitely a hit to the head.
- And finally, not only did I witness Adriano Belli kick Godfrey Ellis on one field- goal -- which went unpenalized -- I also saw him try to kiss Godfrey on one of the following point-after kicks. Godfrey refused Belli's affections and was also assessed a 15-yard penalty for something related to that incident.