Keep the CFL buzz alive

The Grey Cup is hoisted by the Toronto Argonauts as they celebrate after they defeated the Calgary Stampeders in the 100th CFL Grey Cup championship football game in Toronto, Nov. 25, 2012.

Credits: REUTERS/Mark Blinch


TORONTO -- What a gas. What a blast.

Now the Argonauts need to bottle it, make it last.

"They have to keep this up," Argos fan club prez Lori Bursey tells me. "This is a special kind of magic."
If you were not under the spell all week, especially in the glow of Argos' 34-22 victory over Calgary, you are comatose or a Habs fan.

The Big Smoke's concrete canyons have echoed to a boozy refrain of "Argooooos" and other cries from across this vast three-down dominion.

And Rogers Centre absolutely rocked. If the game did not grab your gut or your heart or some other body part, you are overdoing the diazepam.

It was a home game, no question. Argos fans must have mugged most of the Saskatchewan Roughrider fans who bought tickets months ago.

They even sang O Canada, lustily, covering for a shaky Burton Cummings, and booed Justin Bieber.

How unlike us. Hogtowners rarely get this exercised over anything not involving Rob Ford.

I haven't been this stoked about the Argos since a few seconds before Leon McQuay took that handoff from Joe Theismann and slipped into ignominy in 1971, when I was, in, what, kindergarten?

The feeling was gone. Even the three Grey Cup wins in the 1990s were overshadowed by predictions of the CFL's demise.

I thought the 2004 Grey Cup might rekindle the love affair with the Argos of my youth.

Hardly. The CFL has been hot everywhere but here. Attendance is worst in the league. Even this year, it barely hit 20,000, officially. That's less than half the average of 1976 at old Exhibition Stadium. A pre-season game in 1977 drew nearly 40,000, for crying out loud. Are those days back?

It behooves us to help the Argos hold onto the glitter of this 100th Grey Cup triumph.

Winning is everything but it is also as fickle as a fairweather Argos fan, such as me.

Let's think outside the pocket. Here's a quick six:

1. Pray for perennial NHL labour woes. If the Argos are smart, they'll encourage it, by spreading rumours about what commissioner Gary Bettman said behind union boss Donald Fehr's back.

2. The Internet is today's water cooler. Every sport fights for attention there. I'd ask Argos to post racy photos of themselves online. Other sports do it. Jiri Tlusty gave the Maple Leafs major free publicity in 2007. Imagine the airplay if the entire Argo offensive line shows off its wedding tackle.

3. Use animal magnetism. Jason, the overstuffed Argos mascot, is fine, but it's hard to compete with an actual horse. Calgary's touchdown steed, Quick Six, was nowhere to be seen at Rogers Centre, though the CFL OK'd it, minus the usual galloping.

Not that Quick Six had much to even trot about. If you see him, ask him for me: Why the long face?

Still, the Argos need an animal. Maybe a sheep, since Jason and his Argonauts pursued the Golden Fleece in Greek mythology. PETA might object to the paint job, but that's just free publicity.

The slogans are endless. Toronto Argonauts -- We're Calling Ewe!

4. Hey, pay the buggers. The average CFL salary is $80,000 and only stars like Ricky Ray make even a mediocre NBA rookie's salary.

Fans worship wealth. It's human nature. If Jose Bautista made $80,000, would he be so celebrated? Since CFL pay raises are highly unlikely, the league could...

5. Expand to the Maritimes. Why they have no team is beyond me. The East Coast is made for the CFL, yet Las Vegas and Sacramento got first crack?
Besides, the Halifax Schooners would give the Argos a team to clobber, at least for a few years.

6. A team poet laureate. Break new literary ground. I nominate Mort Greenberg, former TV cameraman, who was at the famous Fog Bowl, the 50th Grey Cup, at Exhibition Stadium. He drove Theismann to the CBC for interviews after the 1971 debacle.

Now, Mort does yeoman's work for charities and is Toronto's dean of doggerel, a sort of burlesque poetry.

Off the top of his head Sunday:

It takes a lot of cheering

To make a sport endearing

The Grey Cup does it every year

To the Argos, raise a beer

Now that, in this sudden city of champions, is poetry.

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