Ten memorable Argos' moments at the SkyDome/Rogers Centre
The Toronto Argonauts will play their final game at the SkyDome/Rogers Centre Friday against Winnipeg (7:30 p.m. Eastern, TSN/ESPN3), marking the end of an era. They've called that stadium home since 1989, back when current team vice-chair and former head coach Pinball Clemons was a rookie. While the relationship's been rocky in recent years (especially this season, where the Argonauts couldn't play at home until August thanks to the PanAm Games and then were evicted for three October home games thanks to the Blue Jays' playoff run and stadium managment's sudden inability to quickly convert the field), and while the team's excited to move to BMO Field next year, the Rogers Centre has still seen a ton of memorable football moments. Some, such as the famed 1989 Grey Cup and a whole host of Vanier Cup championships (perhaps especially hometown U of T's 37-34 win over Calgary in 1993 and Western's 50-40 win over Saskatchewan in 1994, the first Vanier to go to overtime), didn't involve the Argos, but there were plenty that did. Here's a look at 10 of the top Argos' moments at the dome. (Inspiration for many of these comes from this great thread of memories on argofans.com, particularly Argo superfan and historian Paul Woods' post of his top 15 games there.)
10. The kick for a million: Okay, this one wasn't actually about the Argos, but it came at halftime of one of their games (where they beat Hamilton 38-11, for the record). In 2005, 25-year-old mechanical engineer Brian Diesbourg competed in the Wendy's Kick For A Million challenge, and after missing from 20, 30 and 40 yards out, he nailed one from 50 yards to win the million dollars. Curtis Rush of The Toronto Star had a great piece this week catching up with Diesbourg, who hasn't been dramatically changed by the money (it helps that he only gets $25,000 a year for 40 years). It's been a nice bonus for him, though, and he provided quite the memory for everyone in attendance at this one.
9. The backups knock out the Ticats: 2012 was a special year for the Argonauts thanks to a home victory in the 100th Grey Cup, but something remarkable happened before the playoffs even started. In the regular-season finale on November 1st, the 8-9 Argos had already clinched second place in the East and couldn't move up, so they had nothing to play for and rested the majority of their starters, including quarterback Ricky Ray. Meanwhile, the 6-11 Ticats were still clinging to playoff hopes, which went up in flames when backup Toronto QBs Jarious Jackson and Zach Collaros (who would go on to join Hamilton in 2014) led the Argos to a last-second 43-40 win. The game didn't mean much for Toronto, but it ensured the Ticats would miss the playoffs and was part of the decision to fire head coach George Cortez after just one season and push GM Bob O'Billovich out. That's a nice rivalry win, especially from the second-stringers.
8. Ray's revenge: Another memorable moment came just a week later in 2012, when the Argonauts dominated Edmonton 42-26 in the East semifinal. That one was perhaps particularly special for Ray, a long-time Eskimo who the team had shipped to Toronto during the 2011-12 offseason in one of the most lopsided CFL trades ever. He threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns against his old team, and the Argos scored a CFL-playoff-record 31 points in the second quarter to cruise to victory.
7. The shootout of shootouts: The Argos have had plenty of remarkable offensive performances over the years, but their 68-43 Sept. 1 home win over B.C. in 1990 stands out. It's the most points scored by both teams in CFL history, and it's unlikely to be passed any time soon.
6. Prefontaine sends the Argos to the playoffs: Kicker/punter Noel Prefontaine had many memorable moments over a CFL, NFL and XFL career that stretched from 1998-2013, including stints with Toronto from 1998-2000, 2001-2002, 2003-2007 and 2010-2013, but one of his best came Nov. 3, 2002, when his last-second kick gave the Argos a 33-32 win over Calgary and put them into the playoffs.
5. The Rickey Foggie Game: Foggie had a long and varied CFL and AFL career, but his best performance may have come Sept. 29, 1990 against Hamilton. He threw for seven touchdowns, tying a team record, and rushed for over 100 yards. What's really remarkable? Foggie was primarily Matt Dunigan's backup that year.
4. Thumping the Bombers: The Argonauts' eventual 1991 Grey Cup victory came on the road, but their Nov. 17 42-3 East Final win over then-rival Winnipeg was key to getting there. It was one of the best moments in a legendary year.
3. The Blues Brothers welcome the Rocket: 1991 saw John Candy, Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall team up to buy the Argos, and they then outbid the NFL for Notre Dame star Raghib "Rocket" Ismail. July 18 saw Ismail's first game in Toronto, and the ownership group turned it into an incredible event, complete with Candy performing with Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi and the Elwood Blues Revue at halftime:
2. Flutie and Pinball team up to win East Final: The Argos' back-to-back Grey Cups in 1996 and 1997 came on the road, but the crucial Nov. 9, 1997 East Final against Montreal was at the Skydome. Doug Flutie and Pinball Clemons were two of the biggest stars of that team, and both were instrumental in a late comeback and an eventual 37-30 victory.
1. The 2012 Grey Cup: Nov. 26, 2012 saw the Argonauts win their only Grey Cup in the building, and they did so with a lot of help from their fans; crowd noise helped produce a dominant defensive performance that shut down Jon Cornish and the powerful Calgary offence and gave Toronto a 35-22 win. A home-field victory in the 100th Grey Cup is tough to top.
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