Sometimes in the CFL, things get weird. That happened Wednesday at the Grey Cup head coaches' press conference, when Edmonton Sun columnist Terry Jones asked the coaches, "What is your position on sex before the game with your players?", and got some hilarious responses in return. You can check the exchange out in the video here:
The background here is that this particular question is asked in some form every year at this press conference, as a tribute to late sportswriter Jim Hunt (who used to ask it annually himself). However, Jones admits his phrasing was a bit awkward this time. That prompted B.C. head coach Wally Buono (seen at right above), who's been a head coach in this league since 1990 and has heard some variant of that eight times before as a head coach at a Grey Cup, to take Jones to task. Here's what his response was:
Well, I thought your question was quite weird, you said Paul had sex with (his) players. So just think about what you said, you weren't saying Paul was having sex? You have to be careful, it's brought a lot of attention recently, right? And not all good." ...
"Here's what I say: my thing is, what you do, you do. Some players, God bless 'em, enjoy sex. Some players don't. In the end, it doesn't matter. What matters is whether you line up for three-and-a-half hours. So if sex is an excuse, it's a bad excuse. You want to be able to have some fun, but when it's time to play, let's go play."
Despite the odd construction of Jones' question, Winnipeg head coach Paul LaPolice (who's at his first Grey Cup) actually responded in quite the usual fashion, as Cam Cole points out. The response LaPolice (seen above at left cracking up at Buono's answer) offered is still pretty funny in and of itself, though.
"I would say, everything in moderation," said the Bombers' second-year coach. "You know I was warned about this question. The weird thing is, 10 years ago, we'd never hear this comment, but literally part of my thought process is: 'Geez, I gotta make sure these guys don't put it on Twitter.' So that's how a head coach's job changes over the years. Now, it's like: 'Well, make sure you don't put any of that on Facebook.'
"I think it's kind of too much information from some of my guys, I really don't want to be included in their Friday and Saturday plans. Just, whatever it takes. If that's what it takes, boys ..."
Famed gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson once said, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." Well, the going did get weird Wednesday thanks to this question, but it was all thanks to a pro's pro. It's worth pointing out that Jones (seen at right during a stunt involving eating his own words earlier this year) is no Inez Gomez Mont, the "reporter" who once showed up at Super Bowl media day and proposed to Tom Brady. Instead, he's a legend of the business, a long-time member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and a guy who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this year. The topic here may be a little weird, but it is a valid one and one different coaches have different, interesting perspectives on, so it's quite legitimate; there's a reason our own Sandy Annunziata was writing on the subject long before this came up. It's also a topic that's frequently asked about at the World Cup, so just because you don't hear it at most North American professional sports events doesn't mean it's a bad question. The phrasing, though? That could use some work.
In a way, it's this kind of stuff that makes the CFL so much fun. Sure, the Grey Cup's a serious football game, but there's also plenty of room for bizarre stuff like annual memorial questions about sex, and there's also plenty of room for give and take between players, coaches and journalists along the lines of the way Buono was teasing Jones. Buono's coaching history and experience hearing that question also probably has a lot to do with him gibing Jones for the phrasing this time around, especially if this might be his last chance to do so as a head coach. It's quirky and different from many professional sports' highest stages, but that's the CFL, and from this corner, that's part of what makes it great. Now, if only we could get a head coach to quote Thompson himself in response to this question next year: "I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me."