|Argonauts owner David Braley is on hand for the announcement that the 100th Grey Cup will be held in Toronto in 2012. (Veronica Henri/QMI AGENCY)
TORONTO - Byron Parker knows too well the pain that was inflicted when Toronto most recently played host to the Grey Cup.
The CFL pulled the lid off a long-known secret on Friday, announcing that the 2012 Grey Cup will be contested in Toronto.
In 2007, the Argos clinched the East Division with an 11-7 record and welcomed the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to the Rogers Centre for the East Final. Many predicted the Argos would win easily, which would have put them in the Grey Cup on their home field. Instead, Winnipeg won 19-9 and eventually lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL championship game.
“I didn’t watch the Grey Cup,” Parker said. “I left town before the game started. I figured if I was not in it, they could not make me stay and watch. I don’t even know who won the thing, to be honest with you.
“It was so tough because we prepared all season to get there. After that, they really dismantled the team. We were really built to win the Cup that year.”
For running back Jeff Johnson, the suffering was more acute. Johnson would not have played had the Argos made it, as he suffered a broken leg in Week 12. But he forced himself to sit in the stands, watching Kerry Joseph and the Roughriders beat the Bombers 23-19.
“That was brutal,” Johnson said. “My family had come down, and I was sitting with them. They were supposed to be watching us on the field and it was disappointing. Watching the game is a feeling I do not want to go through again.
“It’s in our home town, and we should be representing our city.”
One positive that sticks with Johnson is the vibe the city carried during Grey Cup week.
“The energy was unreal, the celebration and the parties that were going on,” Johnson said. “It would just be that much more special if we were part of the game in 2012.
“I feel confident about the way we are going this year, and we are establishing those building blocks so we will be there in 2012.”