When Eric Tillman doesn't know what to say, it means one of two things:
1) The world is going to come to an end, or 2) He's never seen a CFL season like 2008.
The loquacious Saskatchewan Roughriders GM was asked recently how weird the current campaign has been, and, well, the unthinkable happened.
"It's ...," Tillman began, followed by 10 seconds of never-before-heard silence. When I'm at a loss for words, it pretty much says it all."
It sure does.
One of the most popular alternative acronyms for the CFL is the Crazy Football League, and it applies perfectly these days.
From five broken legs in Saskatchewan to a trade that happened and then didn't happen, it's been quite a ride. The amazing part is that we're only about halfway through it.
"It's been quite crazy," Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM Brendan Taman said, "and I'm sure there's a lot more to come."
It must be pointed out, however, that the wackiness has been limited primarily to the field, which, based on recent history in the threedown loop, cannot be overlooked.
"It's keeping the focus on football, which is really strong," commissioner Mark Cohon said. "That's what I've always said: If we're talking about football, that's a good thing for this league."
Here's a look back at just how peculiar the first half has been:
- RIDER INJURIES -- At the time he was being interviewed, Tillman had 20 players on his injured list, including a whopping five with broken legs alone.
"Ironically enough, our trainer just came in," Tillman said over the phone.
- FROM MOP TO PINE RIDER -- The West and East Division nominees for 2007 Most Outstanding Player have both been benched in 2008.
Argos quarterback Kerry Joseph, who won the league award last year with Saskatchewan, got the hook earlier this week, and Winnipeg pivot Kevin Glenn, the top player in the East last season, got to watch three games earlier this year after struggling out of the gate.
- COACHING CAROUSEL -- You have to go all the way back to 2002 to find a CFL season in which two coaches were fired.
We're not sure how far back you have to go to find an instance where two coaches were fired on back-to-back days, like Hamilton's Charlie Taaffe and Toronto's Rich Stubler were earlier this month.
- THE RETURN OF THE DON -- Here everybody thought the CFL's winningest coach, Don Matthews, was going to live in Oregon for the rest of his life, never to be heard from again.
But it didn't take him long to say yes to the Argos, who brought him back after ditching of Stubler. It's his third stint with the Double Blue.
- THE ALMOST TRADE -- Taman tried to send struggling defensive end Tom Canada and the rights to Corey Mace to the Tiger-Cats for middle linebacker Zeke Moreno earlier this month.
A few hours later, Canada learned he had a lacerated spleen and the deal was off.
One problem: Moreno was already in a Winnipeg hotel, devour ing the Bombers' defensive play book.
So they reworked the trade so the Bombers could keep Moreno -- and Canada.
Taman called it the most bizarre day of his 20-year CFL career.
- THE WEATHER -- When Roughrider players weren't breaking their legs, they were sitting in their locker-room, waiting for storms to pass.
Two of Saskatchewan's first three home games featured weather delays of at least 40 minutes.
- THE EAST DIVISION -- Th is ragtag crew of footballers had a combined record of 16- 28 going into this weekend's action. Only the Montreal Alouettes, at 7-4, could be excused from the pity party. The second-place Argos, at 4-7, had a worse record than the fourth-place team in the West, the 6-5 B.C. Lions, which almost guarantees a playoff crossover is going to happen this fall.
"Stuff happens, "Tillman said. "Watch the second- place team in the East win the Grey Cup. Why not make it more improbable, right? Why not make it more improbable."