EDMONTON -- The biggest advertisement for the Renegades $99 season-ticket sale will be on TSN tonight.
It will last about three hours.
"I think a lot of fans want to see what kind of product we're going to put on the field before they buy tickets," centre George Hudson said yesterday at Commonwealth Stadium, where he and his teammates open the 2005 season against the Eskimos. "I have a feeling we're going to come out and give it a good whirl. It's going to be a physical game and fun to watch.
"I don't see any reason for us not making the playoffs this season. We have a lot of talent here."
The entire country gets a chance to see the accumulating job done by rookie GM Joe Paopao, who will have 17 new players (nine starters) on the roster as he attempts to be the first Ottawa coach to win in Edmonton since 1983.
His success in Week 1 will depend partly on how rookie left tackle Marc Parenteau matches up against Joe Montford, one of the best rush ends the CFL has ever known. It will depend partly on how many goalposts Matt Kellett sees, and whether he can kick the ball through the right set. Most of all, it will depend on how a defence with five new starters and a new co-ordinator will fare against an offence that boasts at least three sensational receivers (Mookie Mitchell, Ed Hervey, Jason Tucker) and a 1-2 quarterback punch second only to that in B.C.
Whether the Renegades see Ricky Ray or Jason Maas is a good question rookie coach Danny Maciocia had no interest in answering yesterday. Both are nursing injuries.
"You're going to have to wait and see until after the pre-game warmup," Maciocia said when asked to name a starter. "They'll have another set of treatments (today), we'll work them out a bit, then we'll make a decision."
Maciocia, who believes the Renegades will have different preparation measures depending on who is behind the Edmonton centre, then contradicted himself.
"I know who's starting," he said. "And they know. Why do I have to announce it? They're both healthy."
In that case, expect to see Ray, who became the highest-paid player in the CFL when he re-signed with the Esks this winter after a one-year stay in the NFL.
"It doesn't matter," Paopao said. "They've both had success in their own right."
What matters most to Paopao is how the Renegades play. He says his team is more physical than ever before -- and he has worked it harder than ever before.
After what Hudson called "the hardest camp I've ever been to," Paopao this week held a pair of marathon 21/2-hour practice sessions, followed by another that lasted almost two hours.
Paopao, who was left to twist in the wind before being re-signed for the dual positions he now holds in January, yesterday admitted "it's been a long road" getting to the Renegades sidelines for a fourth year.
"I really couldn't see this day," he said. "We almost had to redefine ourselves. We were a 5-13 team and we had to make quick judgments on players, and move forward from there."
While the contract he signed for former president Brad Watters says he has to win eight games this season for the second year to kick in, Paopao is anxious to see the franchise get turned around.
A large part of that is getting fan support back, as the season-ticket base has dipped to a league-low 5,000 after the CFL and previous owner dilly-dallied in transferring ownership to the Gliebermans.
Amid all else, there is a belief within the organization that there will be plenty to cheer about.
"We have some new faces and a new outlook," said quarterback Kerry Joseph. "It's a new year."
Check out the ad for it on TV at 9 p.m.