Talk to me when it's over

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:13 PM ET

MY BUDDY Pete Martin is having a hard time making sense of this Argos season. He probably is not alone.

Pete, as you may or may not know, is the colour commentator on Argos radio broadcasts, played for the team for eight seasons between 1965-72 and is president of the Toronto Argonaut Alumni Association.

There are rumours that when Pete cuts himself shaving, the blood that oozes out is coloured Double Blue.

Pete and I have had countless conversations this year talking about the team and every time it seems as if we are on two different wavelengths. He tends to look at the team on a game-by-game basis, while I look at it more with an attitude of "wait until the season is over." Perhaps I've been brainwashed by Argos coach Pinball Clemons because this is his philosophy.

Or maybe I'm too mindful of what happened last year when the Argos worked their way through the season at a somewhat pedantic pace -- albeit slowing down noticeably after losing quarterback Damon Allen for eight games with an injury at a time when the team had a 5-3 record -- before finishing off strongly en route to capturing the Grey Cup.

They epitomized the expression "it's not how you start, it's how you finish."

Even when they won the Cup, the Argos didn't command the respect of a champion. Two companies that are professional bookmakers established the Argos fourth behind the likes of the Edmonton Eskimos, the Montreal Alouettes and B.C. Lions in the futurebook odds for which team would win the 2005 Cup. And these betting shops, one of which is a sponsor of the Argos, spend significant resources lest they err and take a financial whack.

The Argos, by virtue of their 22-18 win over Edmonton on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium, are 5-3 at this juncture of the season. A big reason for the record at this point last year and now is Allen. With him in the lineup, the Argos are a different team. He continues to do some amazing things, including some nifty plays against Edmonton, tossing three touchdown passes and making some critical first downs with his feet and arm. Deep in his team's end zone inside the final two minutes, he launched a 46-yard bomb to Tony Miles, who hauled in the pass and gave the Argos valuable field position and eliminated the possibility of giving Edmonton an easy field-goal try. Afterward, Allen said he didn't have a great game, even though he threw for 329 yards, but he did more things right than wrong.

Allen has totalled 2,343 yards in eight games and is on pace for the most single-season yardage in his 21-year career. If he stays healthy and continues his current level of play, Allen will be the East Division nominee for the Most Outstanding Player in the league. In the West, B.C.'s Dave Dickenson, who sustained a partial separation in his non-throwing shoulder on Friday and whose playing status is uncertain, is the current front-runner. Edmonton's Ricky Ray, who threw for 414 yards in the Argos loss, is right behind him. Allen never has won the award, but this may be the year.

Now back to this team overall. It is not as dominant as the '97 Argos -- who won the Grey Cup, following up on the title won by the '96 Toronto team -- but it has nothing to do with the so-called Grey Cup hangover. The Edmonton media bandied around that expression the day before the Argos-Eskimos game.

The '97 Argos were one of the greatest teams in league history based on personnel. The 2005 edition is more blue collar.

If the Argos beat the Calgary Stampeders at the Rogers Centre on Wednesday, their record at the the halfway juncture of the season will be only one victory less than what the '97 Argos had at their mid-season split. And this Argo version has had a tougher first-half schedule, both in terms of the tough teams they have played and the complexities of playing at the Rogers Centre and the availability of dates.

So relax, Pete, it's early.


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