November 25, 2012
Enjoy this Grey Cup victory, Toronto
By STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency
TORONTO - In the least likely of Canadian cities, with the least likely of football teams, in this place where losing has been our sporting signature, here are the Toronto Argonauts, now and forever champions of the 100th Grey Cup, and champions of an historical Grey Cup week that defies belief and history.
This was a win for the city of Toronto and its football team, a double victory with the Argos 35-22 defeat of the Calgary Stampeders at Rogers Centre and a civic trumph over disinterest and cynicism for a team and a league that can we can often be conflicted and ambivalent about.
Just not Sunday night. Just not this weekend. Just not this week. There will be a parade Tuesday in Toronto, and the Argos, with their old quarterback and their young coach, with 12 kids from the GTA, with players many couldn't pick out of a lineup, all worthy of celebration. All worthy of putting whatever bias aside in the name of triumph and celebration.
It has been that long. It has been that distant.
The feeling of Grey Cup week. The feelings that accompanied watching this Argo team grow into the champion of the Canadian Football League, the anticipation that was in and around this city all weekend, of what is possible, what can be possible, what winning feels like again.
It has been that long and it felt like nothing we recognize around here anymore.
It has been 45 years since the Maple Leafs last won the Stanley Cup. It is 19 years since the Blue Jays last won the World Series. It is forever since the Raptors have won anything.
And it has been 60 years -- longer than my life, longer than most of yours -- since the Argos won a Grey Cup when the championship game was in this city.
They are winners now. The football team and the front office. Maybe for a day. Maybe for a month. Who knows how long this magic can or will last? Who knows whether the Argos, who two weeks ago played a playoff game to a half-empty house, can ever find this kind of noise, this kind of enthiusiasm in the future.
So take a moment and digest all this on a Monday morning. Smile about it. Enjoy it. Relish in the celebration.
Take a moment to appreciate what championships feel like in this city and in this building. There were 53,208 in the stands at the Rogers Centre for Chad Kackert's monumental performance.
When Joe Carter hit THE home run in 1993, 52,195 were there. The old dome doesn't see these kind of crowds often. The championships in this city don't come easily.
So take a moment and appreciate what this feels like, how it happened, how the rest of Canada made the Grey Cup festivities happen by making this their weekend destination.
Toronto went along for the ride. And what a ride it has been.
This title is for Jim Barker, the coach who was smart enough to not coach any more, smart enough to bring in Scott Milanovich to run this team. This was for Barker, who stole quarterback Ricky Ray from Edmonton in a trade that defies logic, and for Milanovich, who knew he had to release a running star in Cory Boyd to make room for Kackert.
And the first conversation Milanovich had as head coach, with his old pal Chris Jones, the defensive coordinator. It changed everything for the football team when he came along.
The game wasn't necessarily classic, or the second half emotional, but it was complete by the Argos. Ray outplayed Kevin Glenn. Kackert outrushed Jon Cornish. The Argos outcoached the Stampeders.
It was that complete, that one-sided an end to a week-long party that went from the Convention Centre to hotels to the cold and breezy downtown streets. It felt like another place, not like Toronto. It felt like another era. It felt CFL.
And in the stands, someone held a sign: "100 years," it read, "zero lockouts."
The Argos are now two for two when the National Hockey League doesn't play. They won in 2004, won again Sunday night. The win in 2004 felt nice. This feels spectactular.
Even the comical story of the week -- what to do with the Calgary horse -- became unimportant by Sunday night. Instead of Quick Six, the horse, there was pick six for the Argos' Pacino Horne.
Over time, both the horse and Jon Cornish, the star running back, were kept in check.
But emotions were not.
"This is a moment I've worked my whole life for," said Ricky Foley, the Canadian player of the game, with tears in his eyes. "This is for my team, my family, I'm just so happy for everybody.
"We're Canadians. We dream about the Grey Cup. We're living our dreams today."
BRALEY GETS SECOND STRAIGHT GREY CUP
Another year, another Grey Cup for David Braley.
The owner of 25% of the Canadian Football League's teams won his second straight championship last night in the second straight Grey Cup he has hosted.
Last year it was the B.C. Lions. Sunday night it was his second purchase, the Toronto Argonauts. And it had to feel, oh, so sweet.
While Braley is barely heard from as Argos owner, he is significant to both the largest and most expensive Grey Cup festival in history and the Argos stunning championship performance in the 100th Grey Cup.
This is where Braley factored in not so obvious places. He knew the Argos needed a quarterback -- he knew Henry Burris was available-- but wanted Ricky Ray instead. Braley also had to sign off on the hiring of defensive coordinator Chris Jones away from the defeated Calgary Stampeders.
"That was expensive," said Argos general manager Jim Barker. "We had to go to ownership to get that approved."
The next Grey Cup is in Regina.
This much we know: The home team won't be owned by Braley.