Heading into Saturday's Grey Cup rematch against the Edmonton Eskimos, Ottawa Redblacks' quarterback Henry Burris was obviously frustrated with the criticism he took from analysts at TSN and elsewhere after his dismal performance in last week's loss to Toronto. He made that very clear in a halftime interview where he told "all those guys at TSN" to "shove it," and he managed to turn that motivation into a much-improved showing; his passing yardage rose from 218 to to 341, his completion percentage rose from 58.8 per cent to 66.7 per cent, and he tossed two touchdowns to one interception instead of the other way around. However, Ottawa's 23-20 loss to the Argonauts last week wasn't solely about Burris, and their 23-20 win over Edmonton Saturday (the second win they've posted against the Eskimos this year) wasn't solely about him either. It also didn't prove that he's beyond criticism.Read More »from Burris better in Redblacks' Grey Cup rematch win over Esks, but defence key too
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- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Sat, 6 Aug, 2016 11:16 PM EDT
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Sat, 6 Aug, 2016 9:43 PM EDT
Ottawa Redblacks' quarterback Henry Burris was widely criticized following his return to action in the Redblacks' loss to the Argonauts last week, with some of that criticism coming from the CFL panel at TSN. At halftime of Ottawa's game against Edmonton Saturday, which saw them leading the Eskimos 10-6, Burris did a sideline interview with TSN's Matthew Scianitti and had harsh words for "all those guys at TSN" (starting at 0:17):
Scianitti asked Burris, "You had a real passionate, emotional message for your team before the game. Have you seen the kind of emotional reaction you wanted from them in the first half?"
Burris responded "Well, all these guys at TSN always want to jump on me every week. And it seems like me, here I am, playing hard, trying to turn around every team in this league. For people out there, I've turned around four teams in this league. And I've helped do it here too. So for all those people talking junk out there, you can take that and shove it, all right? That's all I've got to say!"Read More »from Watch: Henry Burris tells "all those guys at TSN" to "shove it" in interview
- Andrew Bucholtz | Eh Game – Fri, 5 Aug, 2016 11:31 PM EDT
While most of the 313 Canadian Olympians took part in the opening ceremonies in Rio de Janeiro Friday night, the women's soccer team wasn't able to. They already started their Games Wednesday with a win over Australia in Sao Paulo, over five hours away by car, and were staying in that city to face Zimbabwe Saturday. However, the team decided to throw their own Olympic opening ceremony, boisterously singing "O Canada" as they marched through a hotel conference room with the Canadian flag:
The Canadian players really got into it, and many of them tweeted about their excitement:Read More »from The Canadian women's soccer team held their own Olympic opening ceremonies
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Fri, 5 Aug, 2016 5:17 PM EDT
The B.C. Lions haven't exactly had the CFL's best luck in recent years when it comes to travel. In 2010, their plane to Regina couldn't land thanks to fog, causing them to be diverted back to Calgary and stranded there for six hours. This time around, they were unable to leave Montreal as scheduled after Thursday night's win over the Alouettes thanks to mechanical issues with their chartered plane, leading to a 15-hour delay. The Lions made the best of it, though, including this airport jam session:
That's pretty impressive, and might even be an audition for the Grey Cup halftime show. It wasn't the only highlight of this delay, though, as there were plenty of other notable moments, including players and the team's Twitter account making the best of it:Read More »from Watch: B.C. Lions start airport jam session after 15-hour delay in Montreal
- Andrew Bucholtz | Eh Game – Fri, 5 Aug, 2016 12:48 PM EDT
A connection made on an Uber ride wound up changing Ellis Hill's summer. Hill, the father of U.S. shot-putter Darrell Hill, was planning to watch the Olympics from his Pennsylvania home, but that all changed when he drove passenger Liz Willock. Willock was impressed to hear that Hill's son was competing for the U.S. team, but sad Hill couldn't afford to go himself. As Tiare Dunlap writes in People, that sparked her into action:
"When I told her about my son she was really amazed, but when she asked me if I was going over there to watch him, I said I really couldn't afford it," Hill, a retired bus driver, tells PEOPLE.
..."It was devastating to hear that," Willock tells PEOPLE. "Here's this wonderful man who has a close relationship with his son and I know any parent would want to see their son or daughter compete at the Olympics, but it was very understandable how that could be out of reach."
Then Willock had an idea. As a sales leader at a concierge service that arranges travel and accommodations for people seeking clinical trials around the world, she felt she had all the contacts and resources she needed to make Hill's trip happen.
"She asked me, 'If I could get you a ticket would you go?' " Hill recalls. "And I said, 'Oh my goodness I don't even know you!'"
"She said, 'No. I believe you and I were fated to meet and I'm going to try to make this happen,' " Hill continues.
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Fri, 5 Aug, 2016 2:06 AM EDT
For much of Thursday's late CFL game, the outcome was definitely in question. The Calgary Stampeders led the Saskatchewan Roughriders just 16-12 at halftime, and while the yardage got a little more separation in the third quarter, the score was 19-15 heading into the final frame. Much like they did in the last few minutes against B.C. last week, though, the Stampeders were able to find another gear in the fourth quarter. This time around, they outscored Saskatchewan 16-0 down the stretch to pick up a 35-15 win, one which adds to the case that they've been the CFL's best team to date, and also suggests the Roughriders still have a long way to go.
A big part of this win was the ground game that Jerome Messam provided. The rushing game has been less important across the CFL this year, with many teams taking to the air early and often, but Messam's a talented player who can force teams to pay attention to defending the run. He collected 109 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, an average of 6.4 yards per carry, and he made Saskatchewan key on the ground game. Other Stampeders' scramblers found success too, with Roy Finch, Andrew Buckley, Lemar Durant and Bo Levi Mitchell combining for 23 yards on six carries (and Buckley including a touchdown in that).Read More »from Stampeders stomp on Riders in fourth quarter, come away with decisive 35-15 win
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Thu, 4 Aug, 2016 10:11 PM EDT
Six days after allowing a 15-point comeback inside the last five minutes of the fourth quarter of a 44-41 overtime loss to the Calgary Stampeders, the B.C. Lions rebounded very nicely with a 38-18 victory over the Montreal Alouettes Thursday. Last week's loss was marked by some poor decision-making by quarterback Jonathan Jennings down the stretch and by the defence's inability to stop Calgary's own late drives, but both improved substantially against the Alouettes. Meanwhile, Montreal fell back to earth after last week's dominant 41-3 win over Saskatchewan. This is good news for the Lions, who have continued their surprisingly impressive start to the season and look to be in pretty solid shape going forward, and it's bad news for the Alouettes, who still have major issues.Read More »from B.C. Lions get back on track with 38-18 win over Alouettes Thursday night
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Thu, 4 Aug, 2016 2:30 AM EDT
Wednesday's CFL game actually ended at 12:50 a.m. Thursday in local time thanks to a two-and-a-half hour lightning delay before kickoff, but that didn't slow down the hometown Winnipeg Blue Bombers. They came out firing from the get-go and led the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 21-0 after the first quarter and 34-0 at the half, then eased off the gas and coasted to an eventual 37-11 victory, almost five and a half hours after the game was initially set to start. In the process, they overcame a long history of bad performances at Investors Group Field (they're 7-23 there since its 2014 opening, and 0-3 this season), strung together back-to-back wins for the first time since July 2014, and picked up their first home win since September 2015.
That's a pretty good way to honour both franchise legend Milt Stegall, who the Bombers inducted into the team's Ring of Honour at halftime, and the hardy fans. Of the reported 24,051 in attendance overall, an estimated 17,500 stayed through the lightning and rain and hung around for hours in rough conditions to watch their team. Two-and-a-half hours of misery sounds a lot like the last few years for Winnipeg fans, but there have been some bright spots, and this performance was certainly one.Read More »from Bombers come out firing after delay, win Wednesday's game on Thursday
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Wed, 3 Aug, 2016 11:23 PM EDT
Wednesday's CFL game in Winnipeg between the Blue Bombers and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, a special game honouring Milt Stegall's induction into the Bombers' ring of honour, was set to kick off at 8:30 p.m. Eastern (7:30 p.m. local), but wound up being delayed until after 11 Eastern thanks to lightning storms in the area. Here's a shot from Brady Laws on Twitter illustrating just how close the lightning was to Investors Group Field:
The thunder and lightning sparked another unusual CFL move, with the referee conducting the coin toss inside a stadium corridor around the initial start time so they could start more quickly later on:Read More »from Ticats-Bombers game underway after 2.5 hour lightning delay, indoor coin toss
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Wed, 3 Aug, 2016 2:51 PM EDT
How did a 28-year-old from Kincardine, Ontario wind up as one of the highest-ranking female football operations executives in the NFL? Well, the answer has a lot to do with Canadian football, and with how Canadian leagues fit into the larger football world. The woman in question is Kirsten Grohs, the Jacksonville Jaguars' manager of football administration, who Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union profiled in an excellent piece this week.
Grohs got her start as a student volunteer with the Golden Hawks football team at Waterloo's Wilfrid Laurier University while earning a degree in psychology and French, then applied for a master's program in sports administration at Ohio University, but was told she needed an internship to make the cut. Then-Laurier head coach and CIS legend Gary Jeffries (now the special-teams coordinator at Guelph) called his contacts with the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats and convinced them to create an unpaid internship for Grohs, which eventually turned into a paid one and then a full-time position after she impressed in a variety of roles. She found a particular supporter in then-Hamilton head coach Marcel Bellefeuille (currently the receivers coach for the B.C. Lions) and his wife Julie.Read More »from Kirsten Grohs' CIS-CFL-NFL executive path got an assist from Marcel Bellefeuille