One more sleep until the 2005 CFL season kicks off, which is the perfect time to answer eight questions keeping football fans up at night:
Can standout QBs Casey Printers and Dave Dickenson co-exist in B.C.?
Unlike Dickenson, who showed endless class by silently waiting his turn while injured last year, the 24-year-old Printers has shown tremendous immaturity with off-season rants concerning his $65,000 salary.
Instead of taking Dickenson's lead, Printers' outrageous call for a $400,000 salary has taken attention away from a Lions team heavily favoured to win a hometown Grey Cup this year. The CFL's 2004 MVP, who fell behind in camp due to a bum toe, better shut his trap soon or Wally Buono's QB decision gets easier. Buono wouldn't trade either, meaning Printers better shape up.
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Can Henry Burris lead the type of turnaround Calgarians expect?
Massive front-office and ownership changes have Stamps fans almost as giddy as Tom Cruise these days. Burris, who has demonstrated tantalizing brilliance from time to time, will have a tremendous supporting cast that should help him improve on a TD/interception ratio that has some worried. There'll be no Grey Cup parade this year but a playoff spot is certain.
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Can Nealon Greene prove he's a legit starter?
He better. The weight of the franchise rests on the shoulders of the 29-year-old quarterback who has yet to prove conclusively he's good enough to lead a contender successfully. One year off a broken leg, the Yonkers, N.Y., native will count heavily on Kenton Keith to share the load on the ground, setting up the odd pass by a scrambling expert. If he fails, the 'Riders are hooped.
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Can Danny McManus or Damon Allen really hope to make it through the season?
Fat chance. McManus turned 40 Friday and should be able to kill any momentum the franchise gained last year as he struggles once again to return to form that saw him have one great season. (He's thrown more picks than TDs in nine of 15 seasons.)
Allen, 41, looked good in pre-season action and still has the smarts but he's on the move too much to avoid another injury. Unemployed Khari Jones could end up replacing one of them.
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Can Ottawa's Glieberguys outdo Calgary's F-Troop as the CFL's clown princes?
Drafting a dead player is hard to top but, if anyone can do it, it's the men who pulled it off -- Bernie and Cuddles Glieberman. Back in Ottawa by default, Little Lonie is still answering more questions about dating cheerleaders than he is about the league's weakest team. The entertainment in Ottawa will come solely from the front office.
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Can the CFL improve its officiating?
It can't get any worse. Vows to spend more cash on improving the stripes are a step in the right direction but it sure would've been nice to see them assisted by video replay. Last year the league looked silly on several occasions, heaping tons of pressure on an oft-battered bunch to pull up their socks. It'll take time.
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Can the Blue Bombers win without a legitimate starting quarterback?
No one can in the CFL. The trio of candidates is intriguing -- Kevin Glenn, Spergon Wynn and former NCAA national champ Tee Martin -- but one must emerge quickly or Charles Roberts will run himself silly.
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Who will win the Grey Cup?
The Lions in their own den. Buono's bunch have waited long enough. Nighty-night.