Jake Thomas figured former teammate Chris Streveler had a free play.
Troy Hill retuned a Streveler interception 84 yards for a touchdown Sunday to lead the Los Angeles Rams to a crucial 18-7 victory over Arizona on Sunday. The contest was a big one for the Cardinals (8-8) who would've secured a playoff berth with a victory.
Streveler's pass drew the ire of broadcaster Boomer Esiason. Moments after Hill's return erased a 7-5 deficit late in the first half, Esiason lambasted Streveler, who in 2019 helped the Winnipeg Blue Bombers capture their first Grey Cup title since 1990.
"What a horrific mistake by Reveler," Esiason said, getting Streveler's name wrong in the process. "He throws it in between three Ram defenders as he's getting him in the pocket.
"You know, this isn't the Grey Cup, this isn't the CFL. You just can't take chances and threw the ball down the middle of the field and expect somebody not to come down with it. There's just no reason to throw the ball there."
Streveler said after the game he thought he'd drawn the Rams offside and therefore had a free play to try and hit Rams receiver Trent Sherfield downfield. The six-foot-two, 290-pound Thomas, who agreed to a one-year contract extension with Winnipeg on Monday, felt the same way.
"I totally thought he was throwing it up because there was an offside penalty," Thomas said during a conference call. "Unfortunately that wasn't the call.
"Any time those comments are made aren't always the best. Guys in the league and our fans are pretty proud. I guess if there's one positive out of it, I feel like there's a lot of people talking about the CFL today."
Kyler Murray started for the Cardinals before suffering an ankle injury and being replaced by Streveler. Murray returned under centre in the second half before again being replaced by Streveler.
Streveler, 25, completed his first NFL season with Arizona and finished 9-of-13 passing for 77 yards and and TD. He signed with the NFL team as a free agent after spending two seasons as a backup with Winnipeg.
"I think it was great to see Chris be able to get in there," Thomas said. "I think a lot of people probably in Canada tuned into the game just to watch him.
"I think he gained a lot of valuable experience, especially this year with no NFL pre-season games so for him to be able to get out there and throw his first touchdown pass I think it was probably overall a great game and great experience for Chris."
The six-foot-one, 216-pound Streveler was a much more productive runner than passer with Winnipeg. He ran for 1,167 yards (5.7-yard average) and 22 TDs while completing 242o-f-374 passes (65 per cent) for 2,698 yards with 19 TDs and 19 interceptions.
Streveler was the backup to starter Zach Collaros in the 2019 Grey Cup game but had a TD pass, reception and 30 yards rushing in Winnipeg's 33-12 win over Hamilton. Afterward, Streveler endeared himself to Bombers fans by celebrating shirtless in a fur coat during the victory parade.
Esiason, 59, spent 14 seasons as an NFL quarterback with Cincinnati, New York Jets and Arizona (1984-1997) before becoming a full-time broadcaster. Predictably, his comments Sunday ignited a firestorm on social media.
"Boomer knows that doesn't work in the CFL either, right," tweeted former B.C. Lions quarterback Travis Lulay.
"Also, Boomer knows he's only calling this game because the starter is out too, right? OK now I'm done."
Esiason was on the Arizona-LA broadcast crew as a replacement for Tony Romo, who missed the contest due to COVID-19 protocols.
Added former CFL receiver Chad Owens: "Man c'mon with the CFL shots! We don't just throw it up for grabs!"
Randy Chevrier, the former Calgary Stampeders long-snapper, also didn't hold back.
"Yes, this is a CFL outrage tweet, but (Esiason) is talking like CFL quarterbacks are a bunch of blathering idiots that just chuck the ball up when there are no options. I've seen that play a million times by bad and established QBs," he tweeted. "Offer intelligence to analysis."
Tommy Condell, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' American-born offensive co-ordinator, took a more philosophical approach.
"We need to take this as an amazing opportunity to invite the various NFL broadcasters to come in and experience the CFL-the whole week-practice, meetings and game,": he tweeted. "Showcasing the people and the product of the CFL."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2021.
The Canadian Press