DISCUSSING DARIAN --The CFL is down to its final four, but around these parts, all people want to know about is the future of number 4. Would the Riders really let Darian Durant go to free agency? Is Chris Jones willing to take that gamble? A few weeks ago, I would have said no and if I had to make a yes or no decision right now I would say no, but ask me again in 24 hours. You can't go far without some asking whether or not Durant is coming back. What it seemingly boils down to is what is the market for a quarterback who will be 35 years old when the 2017 season starts?
Let's look around the league. BC is set with Jonathan Jennings and you know the Alberta teams aren't changing their starting quarterback. Winnipeg seems to be content with Matt Nichols, and why wouldn't they after the season he has had.
In the East, do the Alouettes think Vernon Adams Junior is ready? Are the Argos after trading for Drew Willy and trading what ends up being the number one pick overall going to have him serve as a backup? Would Ottawa be interested in picking up Durant knowing they have a great receiving corps and are the GC hosts in 2017 and if so, what does it say about Trevor Harris? I can't see Hamilton doing anything with Zach Collaros.
Durant deserves the money and he will get it. The Riders want his money to be bonus-laden which is something I understand considering his health the past three years. Durant has said he wants to be here, but he wants to be paid accordingly with what obviously is a higher base salary. Both have drawn their line in the sand. Who budges? We may not know until late February which is something Rider Nation doesn't want to hear.
I just can't see the Riders starting life off in their brand new digs without Durant as their starting QB, but I also thought Weston Dressler and John Chick would play their CFL careers in one uniform as well.
Jones has always said he isn't here to win popularity contests, he is here to win championships. His best bet at doing that here is to have Durant as his starting quarterback. Let's see!
GREAT DAY FOR THE CFL - With the playoffs here, the CFL needed a couple of great games and they got them. However, Mike O'Shea should be ashamed of himself. Who's kidding who, the Bombers coach pulled the rug out from under his own team with one of the biggest boneheaded coaching decisions in recent memory. The play of Matt Nichols is the reason you are in the playoffs, your offense has been racking up yards on the BC D all afternoon long and you decide to try a 61 yard FG on 3rd and 4 instead of going for it to give Justin Medlock a better chance. Yes, Medlock is the game's best kicker and yes, you are inside, but 60 yards. C'mon Mike, give your head a shake! I hope he apologized to every player and coach in that room when it was said and done because that game and its outcome is on him. To say you have no faith in your offense to convert a 3rd and 4 is astounding. The playoffs are a different animal, and in his first test, O'Shea comes up with an epic fail. He deserves every bit of criticism he gets.
As for the Eastern game, I thought the Ti-Cats were going to find a way to squeak one out, but Edmonton got the big play on defense to win it. Mike Reilly says he will be ready for the East final after suffering a wrist injury. If he can't, it falls on James Franklin. He just might show the Eskimos they should invest in him and keep him around. It's either that or his trade stock goes up (see story above) if he is successful. Injuries will never be used as an excuse, but Hamilton had the worst luck of any team with injuries this year and it showed.
BLUE JAYS BLUNDER - In the back of my mind, I thought Ross Shapiro and Ross Atkins could screw up the Blue Jays, but in reality, I didn't think they would. While the window is still there, it appears to be closing significantly. That window can open if Edwin Encarnacion remains in Toronto, but it looks like that won't be happening with Toronto putting their eggs in the basket of Kendrys Morales to fill the void. Edwin is a team leader who can swing the bat and along with Josh Donaldson lead the way. You said your payroll increased, you led the American League in attendance, TV ratings were off the charts. The opportunity is there, but it appears Shapiro and Atkins have soiled themselves and their fan-base with their off-season plan. I am guessing there aren't many Toronto fans out there excited at the prospect of Justin Smoak playing first base every day. It was fun while it lasted.
That being said, the Blue Jays could improve themselves if rumours about the Pirates wanting to trade center-fielder Andrew McCutchen are true. He had an off year last season, but he can play the game and be a player who could help Toronto in a variety of roles. If that meant sending Kevin Pillar on his way, I say do it.
By the way, what will R-A Dickey's time in Toronto be described as? I would have to say disappointing and a fail. He never, ever was what Toronto thought he would be when they got him from the Mets.
HEY CANADA, REMEMBER US -- Yes, we are a hockey nation, but it just astounds me as to how the Toronto Raptors get little or no love until the final month of the regular season.
The Raptors are 7-2, and Demar DeRozan is having one of the best starts to a season that an NBA player has ever had. DeRozan should be in that Josh Donaldson, Auston Matthews conversation when it comes to Toronto sports stars, but he seemingly continues to fly under the radar as does his team. They aren't in that Cleveland/Golden State stratusphere, but they are definitely near the top of list when it comes to good teams in the NBA. There is only so much of the publicity pie to go around, but I would think Canada's only NBA team should have a bigger piece of it.
CONOR STEALS THE SHOW - The UFC's first foray into the World's Most Famous Arena (no, not the Art Hauser Centre) was a success thanks to its biggest star. He re-defines the word "cocky" and he is a tad insufferable when he tastes success, but Conor McGregor does what he does and like him or not, he knows exactly what he is doing. His post-fight remarks after his knockout win over Eddie Alvarez was pure gold. You could talk about the two Polish girls (I'm not even going to try and spell their names) going toe-to-toe or the Tyron Woodley- Stephen Thompson majority draw, but everyone is talking about McGregor and it will be that way for as long as the one time Irish plumber wants it to be that way. Love him or hate him, you have to watch him and he always come through.
SEAHAWKS-PATRIOTS - What a knockdown, drag-out fight that was as the classic game we expected occurred,. In the end, Seattle's defence had a goal-line stand to preserve a victory as Tom Brady's 4th down pass to Rob Gronkowski from the 2 fell incomplete. Wait a minute, New England couldn't score from the goal-line late in the game especially when they had a running back who had scored three touchdowns in this game already. Imagine that!!
That's all I got. Have a great week!!