Crystal football gazing

When will Blue Bombers receiver Milt Stegall break the CFL touchdown record? (Sun File/Chris...

When will Blue Bombers receiver Milt Stegall break the CFL touchdown record? (Sun File/Chris Procaylo)

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:41 AM ET

When will Milt Stegall break the CFL touchdown record? Who will be the next coach to be fired? Will anybody adhere to the salary cap?

As the start of the 2007 season draws near, it's time for our annual gaze into our crystal football, also known as Friesen's Fearless Forecast.

If you're tired of the usual pigskin prognosticators rattling on about zone blitzes and SAM linebackers, five-receiver spreads and dime defences, then Sun sports columnist Paul Friesen's predictions are for you.

Call it an irreverent look at what might happen inside and outside the lines this season, equal parts enlightenment and entertainment.

Remember, these don't come with any guarantees.

Then again, in the wacky world that is the CFL, there's no guarantee some of them won't happen, either.

WEEK 1: Determined to keep Milt Stegall off the scoresheet, Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia assigns his entire five-man secondary to cover the Blue Bombers receiver. Three other Winnipeg receivers go over 100 yards in an easy Bomber win, but Maciocia cites progress, saying he'd rather lose by 30 than on the last play of the game.

In Toronto, Wally Buono's worst fear is realized when his Grey Cup champion B.C. Lions look complacent in their season-opener, beating the Toronto Argos by just 15 points.

Meanwhile, in an unusual bit of number-crunching, Las Vegas oddsmakers determine there's less chance of B.C.'s Dave Dickenson and Winnipeg's Kevin Glenn both staying healthy for the entire season than there is for Paris Hilton to become a member of the Mensa Society. Dickenson and Glenn scoff at the report. Hilton argues there's plenty of room for women like her in a men's society.

WEEK 2: Dickenson and Glenn go down. Hilton, um, posts a raunchy prison video on the internet.

WEEK 3: After being shut out his first two games, Stegall scores three times at home against Edmonton, including the game-winner on the last play, to break the CFL career record for touchdowns. A devastated Maciocia spends the next three days in a trance, repeating the number "85" over and over again.

WEEK 4: A promise by Calgary's receivers to put less mustard on the hot dog this season lasts all of three weeks, as the Stamps pass-catchers take turns doing their own version of Saturday Night Fever in a mauling of Toronto.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver the Lions keep cruising along with Buck Pierce at quarterback. The Bombers... never mind.

WEEK 6: Toronto quarterback Damon Allen takes three time-count violations in a row, which on its own would be nothing new. The fact Allen was penalized while fumbling for his reading glasses so he could see the plays on his wristband is believed to be a CFL first.

WEEK 8: After his team falls to 1-7, a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders gets into a scuffle outside a local nightclub, causing GM Eric Tillman to further tighten the team's new code of conduct. Players appear open to the new rules, but balk at Tillman's suggestion they all gets haircuts like his.

Tillman finally gives in, but insists on retaining a ban on dreadlocks.

In a related development, a Saskatchewan newspaper reporter tracks down former GM Roy Shivers, who says any of his teams would kick the current team's ass.

WEEK 9: A midseason audit of the B.C. Lions' books results in salary cap cop Trevor Hardy spending three days locked in a B.C. Place bathroom.

Lions owner David Braley says it was an honest mistake: he thought Tom Wright was in there when he air-nailed a sheet of one-inch plywood over the door.

Asked if he'll fine Braley, first-year commissioner Mark Cohon says he sees no reason to doubt the boss's sincerity.

WEEK 12: His team stumbling along at 3-8, Danny Maciocia insists yet again he's put Milt Stegall behind him. Problem is, nobody has asked him about Stegall for two months. A day later, Maciocia is relieved of his duties and offered a job taking care of Hugh Campbell's lawn.

WEEK 14: Running back Charles Roberts posts a web message saying he's retiring after the season. A city yawns.

NOV. 11: A roller-coaster week for Winnipeg fans. First, Kevin Glenn suffers an injury as the Bombers win the East Final. Then David Asper steals the spotlight by announcing he has federal funding toward a new stadium, ensuring he'll take over as private owner of the franchise.

Head coach Doug Berry's first comment about Asper: "Has he got a son that can play quarterback?" Asper says he doesn't, but he knows an old buddy who does.

At a home in California, the phone of Michael Feterik begins to ring.

GREY CUP WEEK: The B.C. Lions beat the Bombers to win their second straight title, ruining Stegall's chance to retire on top. Stegall says he may change his mind and play one more season.

Somewhere in a sprawling back yard in Edmonton, Danny Maciocia and his lawn mower are putting the finishing touches on the world's largest grass sculpture: a giant No. 85.


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