Monday Musings: Is this a flagger I see before me? Boosting football's challenge flag excitement

Come on, Pete. Give it a little oomph. (AP)
Come on, Pete. Give it a little oomph. (AP)

Now, maybe it's not up to me to decide. However, I've rarely let that stop me before.

We need a change to the way football coaches offer challenges.

Challenge flags in the game of football have become mundane. Do you recall the early days? The excitement surrounding the occasion of a coach tossing that challenge flag out to right an injustice brought down by uncaring zebras? Oh, those were the days, when he'd pull that flag out of his pocket, like he was unsheathing a sword, wind up and hurl that hanky, overhand, as far as he could out onto the field. "Challenge!!", I always imagined him bellowing, with the audacious righteousness of a fierce knight. "Get thee to a replay booth!"

Now, coaches just casually grab that handkerchief from their back pocket as they wait for word from their spotters upstairs on whether the challenge ought to be issued. Once they get that, the referee is already standing near them and the coach basically just drops the thing on the ground, almost immediately picking it right up again. Sometimes they'll toss it a bit but even that usually comes with all the excitement of a routine windshield cleaning at a self-serve gas station.

Football challenges are in need of a new kind of energy and here are some ideas, preferably, to be rotated on a weekly if not a game by game basis:

1. Affix a red light and siren to each coach's headset.

2. Attach challenge flags to javelins.

3. Situate a challenge gong on each sideline, give the coaches mallets. "The challenge gong has been struck!"

4. Give coaches marine signal flags and make them spell out exactly what their challenge is about. Maybe while something from H.M.S. Pinafore plays over the loudspeakers.

5. No challenge shall be undertaken until the coach does a perfect cartwheel.

6. Flare guns.

7. Buzzer system. Coach presses his challenge buzzer, ref (and commentators) get a jolt in the back pocket. Marketing scheme: We could all have electrodes under our seat cushions, synced up like those hockey beer mugs.


I've been trying to craft a good descriptor for Bill Belichick's sideline fashion and I think I've got it: Retired Loverboy roadie at a seniors' mall walk.

Bob Cole got his Order of Canada. Vin Scully called his last regular season Dodgers home game. Only thing that could've made those events even better would be if each of them did a running commentary of the other's big moment.

At the World Cup of Hockey, they held a citizenship ceremony where 100 new Canadians took the oath. Those who then aced Don Cherry's ten question quiz on Bobby Orr became full citizens.

I don't know who this guy, below, is. But he should have a Bert Kaempfert soundtrack following him everywhere he goes.


Now that Brangelina is all over, I guess the world's best couple's name falls to Ottawa Senators' defenceman Dion Phaneuf and his wife, Elisha Cuthbert. Or, as they're better known: Diosha Phanuthbert.

Speaking of the Senators, the club has decided that it wants an outdoor game in 2017 to be played on Parliament Hill or nowhere at all. "With the Senators trailing by a score of 3-1, the game has been prorogued after two periods...."

New York Jets' quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw six interceptions in his team's loss in Kansas City. If I'm a teammate, no way I'd let him go near my luggage before check-in at the airport.

I'll be watching the Saints/Falcons tonight instead of Clinton/Trump. Unless I hear that Clinton surprisingly opened up by walking over to Trump's podium and giving him a good slap. Then I'll flip right over. Keep me posted, Twitter.

If I were coaching Hillary Clinton for the debate, I'd hide a big bowl of Skittles beneath her podium and have her flick a few at Trump whenever he was lying. Then I'd have her toss the entire bowl at him towards the end. You know. Politics.


Sports heroes are supposed to go the way Arnold Palmer did.

Long life, sterling career, gracious retirement and lengthy eulogies crafted as much - if not more - from joy as sorrow, with knowledge of a legendary life fulfilled.

Gone too soon - far too soon - are Mylan Hicks and Jose Fernandez.

While The King of Golf passed away at the age of 87, Hicks - just 23 -  died of a gunshot wound inflicted outside a Calgary nightclub. Fernandez - only 24 - died in a boating accident off the coast of Miami. All gone on the same, sad, sad day in sports.

One celebration, albeit more than just tinged with sadness, along with two devastating losses, blindsiding loved ones and fans alike.

Arnie we all knew so very, very well. We got to revel in his accomplishments, wonder at his on course wizardry and, most importantly, soak up the warmth of his charm, even if we'd never met him. That was great for us, wasn't it? Even watching the elderly champ nod sheepishly and gratefully at an adoring gallery as we watched on television was enough to make our day.

We should all get what Arnold Palmer got. A long life, celebrated along the way, even if just in the small ways as opposed to the grand stage on which Mr. Palmer was idolized.

Hicks and Fernandez deserved that too and while Fernandez had reached a place of great notoriety beyond his home town and country, with stories of on-field greatness along with those of personal character and the fondness they brought, Hicks was only just beginning to realize what might have been his own great potential in the sports arena.

There was a terrible juxtaposition at play on Sunday, a reminder that not all our heroes will live to smile and wave at us as their golden years advance on them.

Two young men were cruelly and violently robbed of bright futures; ones that might well have included the ongoing adoration of a thankful public.

One man, at least, left us in precisely that manner; with youthful promise coursing through middle-aged accomplishment and golden years contentedness, growing older, yes, but greater as well.

Arnie got that gift and we shared in it.

That's something we can be thankful for as we leave a terrible Sunday behind and mourn the lives that ended too soon.