Continuing on with our CFL Soundtrack series, here's a preview of the Edmonton Eskimos, whose quest for long-ago glory bears a resemblance to that of Blink-182. (Warning: Blink-182 lyrics are often offensive to some, so investigate them at your own risk.)
At first glance, the storied Edmonton Eskimos' franchise wouldn't seem to have a lot in common with Blink-182. The organization constantly preaches the values of tradition, history and "The Eskimo Way," which were central in the offseason hiring of general manager Ed Hervey, a former star player for the franchise. By contrast, Blink-182's career has long been about kicking dirt on any form of authority and offending whoever stands in their way: their highest-selling album's called "Enema Of The State," which is a long way from Edmonton's reverence for tradition and authority.
However, even more than most older acts making a career off touring their greatest hits, Blink-182's most renowned music is very specifically tied to a certain age and era. Songs like "Going Away To College, " What's My Age Again?" and "Anthem" may still sound great and may still be thoroughly enjoyable to even those of us who have moved beyond the teenage and early adolescent years, but it has to be hard for a band composed of guys aged 41 (bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus) and 37 (guitarist/vocalist Tom DeLonge and drummer Travis Barker) to sing live about how "nobody likes you when you're 23" (demonstrated in chart form here!). Similarly, while the Eskimos love to talk about the days of their five straight Grey Cups with Hugh Campbell, Warren Moon, Dave Fennell and others (1978-1982) or even their more recent victories in 2003 and 2005, a reverence for history is all well and good, but it doesn't necessarily help you succeed in the present.
That's not to say that the Eskimos are the only team in this league that celebrates the past, as they're certainly not. In fact, by and large, referring back to history is a tremendous approach for this league, and one that works extremely well from a marketing and fan standpoint. The CFL, its teams and its trophy matter largely because of the history involved, which is why last year's 100th Grey Cup and the cross-country festivities leading up to it were such a huge deal. The point isn't to blast Edmonton for celebrating history, as that's something they should endeavour to do. It's just that this reverence for history seems to reach very weird levels at times, particularly whenever "The Eskimo Way" is uttered, or when a general manager is fired ostensibly for not living locally and doing enough community interaction. (This from the same team that can't be bothered to release their cuts to fans and media until 14 hours after the deadline to turn them in to the league, a team that earlier took a tampering hit for releasing other news too soon.)
In Edmonton, history seems to live in the present as well as the past. It's the same effect as I'd imagine it would be to watch the 37- and 41-year-olds in Blink-182 dance around the stage talking about how they're still more amused by prank phone calls, how young love is just a game, what a first date's like or how they wish their friends were 21. Those are still great songs well worth listening to, and the Eskimos' history is still worthy of celebration. It's just that all the talk about the franchise's illustrious tradition doesn't necessarily mean all that much in the here and now.
It's worth noting that Blink-182 has often been caught up in the sideshows that have plagued Edmonton as well. Their 2011 album, Neighbourhoods, saw band members recording performances individually in separate cities, and it involved them hiring four different managers at once at one point. However, the album's not bad, and it features a surprising amount of emotional maturity from a band once much more focused on juvenileish shock and awe. Similarly, the Eskimos have the chance to make some impressive things happen this season, not just rely on their storied past. Mike Reilly's now firmly ensconced as the starter following Matt Nichols' ACL tear , and he'll potentially give Edmonton a level of quarterback play they haven't had since the Ricky Ray trade.
There are other capable players in the Edmonton lineup, too, including linebacker J.C. Sherritt and running back Hugh Charles. The team has also done some impressive newer things off the field, such as agreeing to be involved in last year's Hail Mary series, coming up with unconventional marketing ideas such as team-branded wine and continuing initiatives to attract young fans, such as the Knothole Gang idea. If this coalesces into a solid team and they do all the small things right, the Eskimos could be remembered for their accomplishments in 2013. Otherwise, though, they may keep trying to live on past glories.
Prediction: 7-11, fourth in West.