And the winner is ...

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:50 AM ET

The 2006 CFL season has featured a 53-yard game-winning field goal, a coach, GM and offensive co-ordinator from three teams sacked, a 100-yard pass for a victory and a new star named Joe Smith.

Two major records were broken -- Damon Allen at 70,000 yards and Terry Vaughn for most all-time receptions -- but scoring and attendance are down and boring games are on the rise.

We're only halfway through this wacky campaign but it's time to hand out some honours, which are completely pointless -- sort of like the Grammy Awards:

- Most hilarious facial expression: Eskimos coach Danny Maciocia's stunned look when Milt Stegall broke a 100-yard TD pass to give the Bombers a win.

- Best performance by an understudy: Buck Pierce as the Lions QB, winning two straight games and taking 11 sacks in the process.

- Most memorable debut by least memorable name: Joe Smith, who started his CFL career with back-to-back three-TD games.

- Best imitation of a head coach: John Avery doing an exact rendition of Pinball Clemons on TSN, complete with the odd "right" and "see."

- Most definite gesture: Bombers coaches Doug Berry and Greg Marshall flipping Don Matthews the bird during a blowout in Winnipeg.

- Best celebration by an Italian: Stamps kicker Sandro DeAngelis sprinting to the locker-room after booting the game-winner against Hamilton.

OPENING DRIVE: With a bye this week, the Edmonton Eskimos will limp into Labour Day with a 3-6 mark. Only once since 1971 have the Eskimos been this troubled at the Classic. They were 2-6 in 1999 when they beat the Stamps 33-30 ... With an outstanding performance against the Tiger-Cats, Roughriders RB Kenton Keith will surely be offensive player of the week. Maybe the accolades will finally force an end of his media boycott that started after his arrest for an alleged assault ... When the Blue Bombers added Kwame Cavil last week, the former Tiger-Cat, Eskimo and Alouette remarked how he is a proven 'winner.' Nobody has done less to earn two Grey Cup rings than Cavil, who couldn't make the woeful Tiger-Cats any better after being benched for most of the season ... The only thing more consistent than death and taxes is Wally Buono coaching in the CFL but even he hinted at retirement last week. "I'm getting older," the 56-year-old told a Vancouver newspaper. "I know my time is getting short. I'm serious. I'm not doing this for the rest of my life. How short? I don't know."

ENDZONE TOSS: Roughriders K Luka Congi is having an outstanding rookie season for field-goal kicking overshadowed by his terrible punting. With four field goals against Hamilton, Congi has now hit 18 in a row and has hit on 20-of-21 (95.2%) for the season, while he has a meagre 36-yard punting average ... Toronto's injuries at receiver are getting to the point of Shakespearean tragedy. Shockmain Davis hurt his knee and was the latest to go down, joining Andre Talbot, Tony Miles and Michael Palmer as players with ailments.

EXTRA POINTS: Finally, after all the speculation, Doug Flutie put the kibosh on a CFL comeback last week when he and Allen Pitts were announced as the Stampeders Making the Connection tandem. The Argos had tried to lure him back when QB Damon Allen was out with a broken finger. "I was tempted but I kind of like the way I ended things up there," Flutie said. "I wasn't in a rush to go running back and take any more hits on the field" ... The same time the Roughriders sacked GM Roy Shivers, they added more seats for the Labour Day Classic against Winnipeg. Coincidence?

BAKER RAPS IT UP: Receiver Robert Baker has made his decision and it doesn't involve playing football for the Blue Bombers.

In fact, Baker, 30, says he's giving up the game for a career in music.

"It's a difficult thing for him," Baker's agent, Bill Thies, said from Toronto yesterday. "When it just came down to it, football wasn't where his heart was at anymore."

Released by Toronto and claimed by the Bombers last week, Baker remains in Toronto, where he's recording a pair of CDs under his rapper name, Shake Severs or S.S.


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