Wednesday's news that Ottawa's long-anticipated return to the CFL is (somewhat surprisingly) on track for 2014 has plenty of implications. The league issued a release that things are aligning for an Ottawa team to begin play in 2014, and that's certainly positive from a league-wide perspective; that would likely allow the new team to take part in the Canadian draft this coming year (drafting only players who wouldn't be available until 2014) and participate in the expansion draft as planned, and a 2014 return for Ottawa also allows the league to start seriously considering further expansion (whether that be to Atlantic Canada, Quebec City or somewhere else). However, while there are still plenty of serious issues to be ironed out with the new franchise, there's one more fun aspect that people have already begun debating: what are we going to call it?
A return to the Rough Riders name would be preferable for many, and that may be doable despite Saskatchewan's opposition to sharing their name (despite the Riders' economic power, they're just one of eight current CFL teams; if enough fans and enough franchises lobby hard enough to remove Saskatchewan's veto, it's toast). That doesn't mean we can't debate other options, though. TSN broadcaster Chris Cuthbert raised the question of what to call the new team on Twitter earlier Wednesday, and the CFL Twitter community chimed in with some great responses, both the serious and the not-so-serious. Here are some of the best. (This is a Storify screenshot; you can find the interactive version here.)
From this standpoint, if the team's forced to go with something other than "Rough Riders", a name honouring that logging heritage would make sense. "Lumberjacks," "Crosscutters" or something similar (hey, maybe we could even go with The Ottawa Big Joe Mufferaws!) would seem logical, and it would allow for several great potential theme songs. There are plenty of other options, though, including something referencing the Rideau Canal or something referencing Ottawa's governmental status (although the Senators have already made tracks there), and if they really want to get historical, there's a solid nickname out there. "The Ottawa Silver Twelve" doesn't sound too bad.
Cuthbert's suggestion of "The Ottawa Bootleggers" is also brilliant; barely any Canadian teams reference the country's role in running liquour to the U.S. during American Prohibition, and "Bootleggers" carries some similarities to the old Renegades, but is much more specific and historical. "Rouge et Noir" isn't bad either, and certainly would help win over the Francophone community, but it does sound a little similar to Laval's "Rouge et Or." Maybe "Noir et Rouge" instead? Regardless of what name's eventually chosen and how it's picked, though, it's exciting that we're even having this discussion. For one of the first times since the Renegades were suspended in 2006, CFL football in Ottawa seems right around the corner again. To paraphrase Shakespeare, a Rough Riders' franchise by any other name is still playing Canadian football.