At the conclusion of the 2017 season, which culminated with an Argos Grey Cup win, I wrote a personal Top 17 of ’17 article. The response was positive, and it’s nice to be able to revisit the column to relive some of those magical moments.
This season we’re also celebrating a Grey Cup win, one that happened in similar circumstances; a win over a heavily favoured western team in a game played in less than ideal conditions. The game highlighted by some plays that will vibrantly live on in Argos history.
This is not a list of the best plays, nor the biggest personalities. This is a personal list of 22 moments that if I’m able to read this column 10 years from now, will make me smile as broadly as I did when I thought of them while assembling this list.
22- QB2: He came to camp with a lot of hype. The kid who balled out at Ole Miss and before that East Mississippi Community College of “Last Chance U” fame had signed with the Argos.
The playing rights to Chad Kelly, along with a second-round draft pick that would be used to select Deionte Knight, were acquired in a deal that sent Nick Arbuckle to Edmonton.
Kelly showed off his immense skill during training camp. He had a huge arm, was fast, and could move around in the pocket. What was lacking was understanding the nuances of a game that was mostly foreign to him. The mechanics of throwing the ball are the same on either side of the border, but the oft discussed differences are, well, different, but seemed tailor made for Kelly’s game.
It was a game in mid-August that he’d first be used in short yardage situations and that seemed to ignite a part of the Argos game that had been lacking. His presence and running ability gave the club more options than just falling forward in an attempt to gain a hard-fought yard or two.
He’d make his first start in the season finale and show off what we had seen in training camp and in practice; a gunslinger’s mentality and the skills to back it up. It would also foreshadow a night still three weeks away.
When McLeod Bethel-Thompson injured his thumb in the Grey Cup game, Kelly took over with the Argos trailing by six points and just over 11:00 left in regulation time. On his first series he threw a couple of crisp passes, removing some of the doubt that may have been present due to Kelly having a grand total of one game of CFL experience.
He’d later say the experience he gained in the season finale was invaluable. In his Grey Cup appearance, he showed more poise than someone in that situation should have. His most memorable play came on a second and 15 from the Bomber 36. He dropped back and was immediately flushed to his right. He stopped, then started running to his left. Twenty yards later he’d have a first down that would eventually lead to the game-winning touchdown.
At the end of that 20-yard scramble, Kelly took a huge hit. I was standing on the sideline to the right of the Argo bench, so the contact was right in front of me. As bad as the hit looked on TV, it looked and sounded a lot worse from my vantage point. To be honest, I was more than a little surprised and very much relieved when Chad popped up and headed back to the huddle.
I shouldn’t have been surprised; that’s what Kelly brings to the table and he certainly did on the biggest stage.
Knowing how much time he’s spent working with kids in his stay here makes him even easier to cheer for. While it was certainly bittersweet seeing McLeod Bethel-Thompson not be able to finish what he started, it was great to see someone with Kelly’s enthusiasm be able to pick him up.
21- THE ROAD TRIP: It had been a few years since I had gone on a western trip with the team. For the game in Regina, Manager of Football Media Chris Balenovich couldn’t make it because he was in a wedding party on the Saturday before the Sunday game. I would fill in for him, making sure Ryan Dinwiddie and some players did their appointed media commitments.
There was a lengthy delay waiting for the charter to take off, so media availability in Regina was cancelled, essentially giving me a day off. Chris then let me know he was going to try to catch a flight to Regina Sunday morning, meaning I’d only have to give him a bit of help with the post-game Zoom media session.
I took advantage and went out with the social media teams and some of the staff on Saturday night and also met up with Ben Grant from the “Xs and Argos” podcast. Roughly 90 percent of the conversation around the table that night was about football, which made it a thoroughly enjoyable evening and reminded me how much I missed these opportunities.
The next day, with limited responsibilities, I watched the game from the sidelines at Mosaic Stadium, the first time I was able to visit the spectacular facility. I’d watch three more games this season from field level, but this was the first time I had watched a game from there.
I have to admit, it’s an awesome vantage point, particularly when you’re used to watching from the highest point in a stadium. It reminds you in a hurry how fast and physical the game is, something that can be lost from the broadcast booth.
The game was clinched when Robbie Smith forced a fumble on a Mario Alford kickoff return that Enoch Penney-Laryea picked up and returned for a touchdown. It was just a few steps from where Smith would make a much bigger play four months later.
20- IT’S NOT COLD ENOUGH: Full disclosure; it was cold enough. It was more than cold enough. In fact, it was too damn cold. The week leading up to Grey Cup saw the Argos practice outside on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, hold a walkthrough on Saturday, then play on Sunday.
The first three practices were insanely cold. If you thought the Eastern Final was chilly (it was), the three practice days were crazy. The wind chill in Regina for those three days was between -25 and -29 degrees.
On the first day Dariusz Bladek and Justin Lawrence wore shorts. O-linemen are just wired differently.
At some point one of the players coined the phrase “It’s not cold enough,” and everyone bought in. It was an attempt to put mind over matter and essentially have everyone fool themselves into believing that it wasn’t as brutally cold as it actually was.
The social media team wanted to show our support, so for one of our daily videos, Sean Bowen and I took off several layers and shot the closing in short sleeves, while cameraman Josh White took off his shirt. I believe the wind chill was -27 that day.
In retrospect, the cold temperatures were a fun part of the story, though I can guarantee you the word “fun” was not used during the week.
19- BLOCK 1: Whenever the Argos and Ticats get together it’s usually a lot of fun. The week leading up to the game provides ample opportunity for trash talk between fans and occasionally, players.
When the two teams met at BMO Field on August 6, it was the first of a ridiculous four meetings in five weeks between the two teams, but an opportunity for one of the combatants to draw first blood in the head-to-head series, something that may have been a difference maker by the time the season ended.
It was tied 17-17 a couple of minutes into the fourth quarter when the Argos forced the Ticats to punt from their own end. Trevor Hoyte was able to break through the line untouched and blocked the attempted punt by Michael Domagala, Hoyte’s former teammate at Carleton.
Benoit Marion picked it up and ran it back 24 yards for a touchdown, with Hoyte – Marion’s roommate – being the first player to greet him in the end zone. It gave the Argos a lead they’d never relinquish and set the tone for the four-game set.
18- THE HAT TRICK: When Jamal Peters arrived at Argos camp in 2021, he was a pretty easy guy to notice. He was big for a defensive back; 6’3”, 220 pounds and long. The more you watched him that pre-season, the more you fell in love with him as a player. He was physical, and he seemed to have a nose for the football.
His first year didn’t go well; not because of his play, but because of his lack of it. Peters was injured and would miss the majority of the second half of the season. Coupled with a serious knee injury in his senior year at Mississippi State, all he wanted was a healthy season and a chance to show off his skills.
He did. Peters showed off his coverage ability and his physicality from Day One of training camp. In a game against Hamilton on August 26 he would show off his nose for the football.
Not one, not two, but three interceptions against Dane Evans – the third one returned 67 yards for a touchdown – led the Argos to a 37-20 win. After the game I escorted him from the locker room to meet the media in BMO Club, where the post-game media sessions happen. On the walk I asked him if he had ever picked off three in the same game before and he said he hadn’t at any level. While he was obviously thrilled with both the win and his contributions that night, he seemed a little overwhelmed by what had just happened.
He would add two more interceptions a week later in the Labour Day Classic and would finish with a league leading six picks on the season. He would be rewarded by being named a CFL All-Star, but his hat-trick of picks against the Ticats is what he’ll be most remembered for.
17- THE THREE AMIGOS: When Chris Schultz passed away in 2021 it was a devastating loss to everyone who knew him. It wasn’t for over a month that it hit me that I needed someone to fill his gigantic shoes, both literally and figuratively, as the colour commentator on the Argos radio broadcasts.
I thought long and hard about who would be the right fit, yet there was a frustrating realization to knowing the ideal candidate was still playing, and not for the Argos.
Natey Adjei was a natural for the booth. He knew the game, had an extremely engaging personality, and most importantly, did his preparation and wanted the job. The problem was he was still playing so the name that I had at the top of my wish list was unavailable.
As I was trying to figure out a short list of names, Natey called me out of the blue to say he was retiring from the Alouettes and was respectfully wondering if we had filled Chris’ job. It was a no brainer. He accepted the offer and was nothing short of fantastic in that role.
Fast forward to this year.
Happily, for Natey and his family, a tremendous work opportunity arose that would see him leave the country and the continent. They were moving to Bahrain, an island nation in the Persian Gulf. He was so disappointed to be leaving the broadcast booth that he actually negotiated with his employer the ability to commute to Toronto to do the remaining games on the schedule.
Somehow, taking a 15-hour flight one way to Toronto, then turning around for the flight home was a little less practical that it seemed. This left a need for a mid-season replacement.
There were several names that came to mind, all of them former players. The name that kept resonating was that of Bob Bronk; an Argo fullback from the 80s who basically checked all the boxes. He’s smart, knows the game, has a good voice, and to me most importantly, still follows the team closely. We also got along really well so I wasn’t worried about on-air chemistry.
He was taken aback when I asked him to do it but stepped in nicely for Natey and was a fantastic partner.
It also led a bizarre story.
Natey was getting to know his new boss and they discovered they both had a football background. His boss had played for Queen’s. One of his teammates with the Gaels was Bob Bronk.
Natey moved halfway around the world and found himself working for someone who was a teammate of the man who was replacing him in the booth.
I had one other broadcast partner this year. Bob couldn’t make it to one of the games, so again I was looking for a replacement. A couple of names came to mind, one of which was Ben Grant, host of the X’s and Argos podcast.
He wasn’t a former player but has coached the sport for a long time. He knows the game and probably knows the personnel better than anyone in the media. Ben also has a radio background and a great voice, making the choice an even stronger one.
His one appearance in the booth was fantastic. I was blessed to have three outstanding partners in the booth with me this season.
16- A.J. ROULETTE: Hello, Hollywood? I have an idea for a movie, but you might not believe it.
It should have been taken as a sign that this season would be different when we found out early on that his name wasn’t pronounced ooh-LET, but O-let. During our broadcast of the Argos pre-season game in Guelph I received a message from A.J.’s mother-in-law, who politely informed me that we had been using the French-Canadian pronunciation, not the way the family pronounced it “Here in Ohio.”
I ran into him the next day and asked him why he didn’t let us know we were mispronouncing it for a couple of years and he said he really didn’t care because those kinds of things don’t bother him.
That’s who A.J. Ouellette is as a football player. If his uniform is ripped, he doesn’t care, he just runs hard. If his cleats aren’t perfect, he doesn’t care, he just runs hard. That’s part of his appeal to the fan base.
It’s also one of the reasons why his mid-season release was so tough to see, even by those that made that decision. In early July, Andrew Harris was running well, Javon Leake played the position and was also used as a returner, and Daniel Adeboboye was progressing, so there was no room for Ouellette on the game-day roster. He didn’t want to back on the practice roster and was granted his release.
But a funny thing happened on the way back to Ohio. Just a handful of hours after Ouellette was released, Javon Leake suffered a significant hamstring injury at practice. To make a long story short, the man with the long beard and longer hair was back in Double Blue.
Shortly thereafter, Andrew Harris was injured and Ouellette became the starter. He quickly established himself as a quality back and a fan favourite. His take-no-prisoners style of running resonated with the fan base.
Though Harris returned in time for the playoffs, Head Coach Ryan Dinwiddie found a way to use both backs, with each player making significant impacts in the Eastern Final win over Montreal.
It was Ouellette who was called upon in the Grey Cup game, running over Winnipeg linebacker Adam Bighill for one score; later utilizing a goal-line block from Brandon Banks for the game-winning touchdown run.
It was one of those stories that could have very easily gone in another direction. Both Ouellette and the Argos are happy it worked out the way it did.
15- THE ROUGE: The Argos clinched home field for the Eastern Final on a rouge; how Canadian is that, eh? The kick came on the final play of a fabulous game on an unseasonably warm afternoon in Montreal.
The final 30 seconds of the tie game were intense; magnified by what was at stake.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson led the team into field goal range with three perfect passes; an out to Kurleigh Gittens Jr., a checkdown to A.J. Ouellette, then a bullet over the middle to DaVaris Daniels. The Argos had moved the ball 39 yards in just 25 seconds, setting up Boris Bede for a 47-yard field goal attempt.
While the kick sailed wide right, Bede did what no other kicker in the league was capable of doing. His instructions were to make sure he kicked it higher than the goalposts, so if he did miss, it wouldn’t hit the upright. If that happened the play would be blown dead and there would be no point awarded.
Bede was not only able to kick it over the uprights from 47-yards out, but it had enough leg to reach the back of the end zone, where former Argo returner Chandler Worthy caught it, but stepped out of the bounds to give the Argos the home field clinching point.
No other kicker in the league gets the ball that high and that long on a field goal attempt. While there was no “Bede three” on the kick, the combination of knowing to take the goalposts out of play and the incredible leg strength of Bede meant the Argos would host the Eastern Final.
14- LABOUR DAY SPEEDY: If before the season Brandon Banks was asked the question “Which regular-season game would you like to be the most memorable?” the answer would have undoubtedly been the Labour Day Classic.
A running touchdown on a “Philly Special” followed by a great catch in the end zone showed why the Argos signed the long-time Tiger-Cat. The fact that Brandon’s son was in town for the game made it even sweeter.
He’d make an incredible catch in the Eastern Final and a key block on the Grey Cup game’s winning TD run, but Banks 2022 season will likely best be remembered by his big day on the Ticats’ biggest day of the season.
13- KURLEIGH: The first time I saw Kurleigh Gittens Jr. play was on a webcast. Like most, the initial reaction to seeing him play was “Damn, what a cool name!” It didn’t take a lot of watching Laurier play to realize the kid wearing No. 19 was special.
I’ve worked on a show called “Gridiron Nation” for the last several years. Now on TSN, it’s bounced around a bit and changed its name a time or two but has remained focused on U SPORTS football and Canadians playing in the NCAA. When Gittens was a Golden Hawk it seemed that every week at least one of his catches or returns found its way onto the show.
When the Argos drafted Michael O’Connor with the 20th pick in the 2019 draft I have to admit I was a little disappointed that Gittens wasn’t chosen. Nothing against the quarterback, but I was really hoping the receiver would end up in Double Blue.
That momentary bout of depression did a complete 180 when he was amazingly still available with the 23rd pick and the Argos pounced.
He caught but one pass in his rookie year, then broke out with over 1,100 yards this season to lead the CFL among Canadian receivers. He’d be recognized by being named a CFL All-Star.
What makes the story even better is when you know his background and personality. A kid who came to Canada at a young age while his mother and siblings remained in Guyana, he’s grown into a player that works as hard as anyone on the team, always trying to perfect his craft.
The hard work paid off this year with him being a key contributor to a Grey Cup championship team.
12- FAN BOY: Let me preface this by saying I love doing radio play-by-play. I worked in radio for 35 years and nothing came close to the adrenaline rush of broadcasting a live sporting event, specifically football, and especially the Argos.
With that said, I was able to do something on September 10 in Ottawa that I hadn’t done since the 2006 season; I watched a regular-season Argo game from the stands.
It was so much fun!
My wife Chris and five of our friends from Kingston made the trek to TD Place Stadium on a blistering hot Saturday afternoon. We met pre-game for a bite and a beer and then made our way to our seats. We bumped into a few fellow Double Blue supporters, and I also unexpectedly saw Paul LaPolice’s wife Tina, making a great day even better.
I can’t tell you how much fun I had! Sitting with friends, being able to cheer, having a cold beer on a hot day – it was amazing. Having the good guys pull out the win made it even better. When my play-by-play days conclude – hopefully in the distant future – I can’t wait to sit in the stands at BMO Field and experience what so many of you are fortunate enough to be able to do on a regular basis.
11- THE STAGE: It’s a pretty cool tradition. A Grey Cup winning team assembles as a group for the first time post-game when it is awarded the trophy on a stage; sometimes at mid-field, sometimes in the end zone. The latter is where this year’s presentation took place, with the players, coaches, and the management team climbing up to accept the chalice.
After the trophy was handed out, the other staff members, present company included, climbed up the steps to join in.
Seeing it on TV is one thing, to find yourself standing on that stage is an out-of-body experience. The confetti shower, the sheer joy of the moment is difficult to explain; it was just something that will be impossible to forget.
I may still have blue and white confetti in my coat pockets from that day.
10- TEARS: I knew they were going to make an appearance. I wasn’t sure when, but they were going to happen.
When the game ended and everyone was running around Mosaic Field like puppies looking for lost toys, there were three things in abundance; hugs, the words “I love you,” and tears – lots and lots of tears. The most memorable images of the latter came from Shawn Oakman, whose emotions completely took over and left a 6’9” giant of a man bawling his eyes out. He wasn’t alone.
For some players it was indicated with a slight wipe of the eyes, for others it was more obvious and came after one of the seemingly endless assembly line of hugs. For your humble typist the tears came at an unexpected time.
The first few moments were consumed by work. I was helping Chris Balenovich track down players to escort them for on-field interviews for TSN’s post-game coverage. When the key players had done their on-field media responsibilities, the hugs became more relaxed for me and I headed toward the stage. After the presentation was over and the players had their moment, I joined the other staff members on the podium.
I took a few pictures and just looked around and marveled at the contrast between stage and stadium. The south end zone was jammed, packed with players hoisting the trophy, enjoying their well-deserved moment of triumph, brushing remnants from their confetti shower off their shoulders.
The stadium, however, was eerily silent. The lack of a host team and the loss by the Blue Bombers meant the majority of fans in the building either left immediately or departed after seeing the Cup presented and the speech by the game’s MVP and Most Outstanding Canadian, Henoc Muamba. It was also pretty cold when you weren’t moving around, so there were plenty of reasons for fans to head to the concourse or back to their homes or hotels.
The fans that remained had found their way to the area closest to the presentation, leaving the majority of an enormous stadium empty. It was a dramatic contrast of celebration and silence.
I walked down the steps of the stage and looked through the crowded end zone for the quickest route to the tunnel that led to the warmth and impending insanity of the locker room. As I left the stage and took a couple of steps the inevitable happened.
For the first time in my life I had a feeling that has been described as having one’s life flash before their eyes. Within a handful of seconds I thought of the win, the emotional rollercoaster of the previous 30 minutes, of the early mornings and too often late nights, the hard work put in by the players, the coaches, management, and staff. I thought of the love that’s developed between a group of men and women who were dedicated to one cause, then in that moment seeing that hard work pay off in the sweetest possible way.
I doubled over, hands on knees and let out a giant sigh, accompanied by a few seconds of tears. Honestly, I thought there would be more. After regrouping I headed toward the locker room, ready to celebrate not just a game, but a season that proved that a team can indeed become a family.
9- THE CROWDS: On a personal level this probably should be higher on the list.
One of the great things about working for the Argos is that everyone is working on the same page with a couple of major goals in mind; winning the Grey Cup and building a bigger fan base.
The on-field success in 2022 speaks for itself, while off the field there were several areas of major improvement. I won’t get into them here but suffice to say that as an organization we were very happy, with many of our initiatives heading in the right direction.
Argo games have become events. Fans who attend have taken ownership of the building and take great pride in creating as much atmosphere as they do. Remember, there were accusations that crowd noise was being pumped into the stadium; that’s how loud it gets.
There’s obviously a hell of a long way to go, but I’m extremely optimistic about the direction things are heading.
8- THE BANNER: It was an unexpected moment in a season filled with incredible high points, but this one hit your humble typist right in the feels.
On Grey Cup Sunday something was different about the wall just outside the Argos locker room. There was a large Cambridge blue sign on the wall with an Argo logo in the middle, with a background comprised of the names of all the Argo season ticket account holders.
Long-time ticketing and memberships representative Rob Richardson gave the banner to the equipment team of Danny Webb and David Sillberg to find it a good home while in Regina. When the players arrived on game day, the banner was hung outside the locker room, so that whenever a player entered or exited the room, he walked right by it.
It was a terrific idea to let the team know that while not all the Members could physically be in Regina, they were with the Argos in spirit for the biggest game of the year.
7- QB1: His journey to Toronto has been as unique as his personality. Despite a winning record and leading the CFL in passing yards this season and TD passes in 2019, McLeod Bethel-Thompson has been a polarizing figure among Argo fans. His play won many over this season, while others decided to remain opposed to him as the starting QB.
Bethel-Thompson should have permanently silenced the critics with his play in two specific games against Montreal; the regular season’s penultimate game that clinched home field for the Eastern Final, and the Eastern Final itself.
He was masterful in those games. In Montreal he led the team on a 109-yard drive for a touchdown, a 70-yard drive for a go-ahead TD late in the fourth quarter, then after the Alouettes tied it, he threw three perfect passes to put the Argos in range for a game-winning kick.
He was even better in the Eastern Final, throwing for 299 yards, two TDs and no picks in a 34-27 win.
Sadly, he was injured in the fourth quarter of the Grey Cup game, but was picked up by Chad Kelly, who led the team to the game-winning touchdown.
There were a lot of players to feel particularly happy for this season. Players like Banks, Bede and Phil Blake are veterans who were finally able to raise the trophy over their head, but I may have been happiest of all for Mac.
The man simply loves football. I mean he’d have to with all of the disappointments he’s felt along the way. From San Jose in the Arena League to the 49ers to Sacramento in the UFL to the Dolphins to the Vikings to the 49ers again to the Patriots to the Vikings again to the Dolphins again to the 49ers again to the Eagles to the Blue Bombers to the Argos to the Spring League during the Covid year to the Argos again.
For the first time in his 12-year pro football odyssey he was named the starter in training camp and held the job. He’s an exceptionally likable man who leads through inspirational words and by example. The thumb injury meant there was no perfect ending to the story, but it was about as close to perfect as you could get.
6- THE LOCKER ROOM: I had seen it hundreds of times before on television. A team would win a championship and head back to the locker room for a celebration with the trophy. Though I had done the play-by-play for Grey Cup winning teams in the past, this was my first time to celebrate as an employee of the team and trust me, it’s a lot different.
The emotional surge of Robbie Smith’s blocked field goal had subsided, and the public acceptance of the Cup on stage was also done. This was the first chance for the team to celebrate as a group, with very few people in the room who were not on the team, or family members of those who were.
There were cigars, there was even more beer, there was even more champagne, and there were even more hugs. Tears shed moments earlier on the field had dried up and had been replaced by laughter. It would be hard to imagine a place on the planet where the words “I love you brother” were spoken more often.
Everyone was eager to get their picture taken with the Cup, present company included. Trevor Hoyte was anxious to shower me with beer; some of it making it into my mouth, most of it ending up on my head or hoodie.
It will be the little things like that I suspect I will remember a decade from now.
5- THE PICK: It may have been the turning point in the Argos season.
The Argos were “hosting” the Roughriders at the TD Atlantic game in Wolfville N.S. The club entered the game with a 1-2 record, including a one-point setback to Winnipeg, and a blowout loss in BC. It was an emotional game, starting with a pre-game incident involving Shaq Richardson of the Argos and Saskatchewan’s Duke Williams. The animosity intensified when Cody Fajardo was injured on what Rider fans felt was a low hit.
With just over three minutes left and with the Riders leading 24-22, Wynton McManis jumped in front of a Fajardo pass and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown. It gave the Argos the first half of a home-and-home series, which they would sweep with a win in Regina a week later.
The Argos left the Maritimes with two points and a renewed level of confidence they would carry forward for the rest of the season.
4- GIVING BACK: I’ve been unbelievably fortunate to be involved with some pretty amazing things with the Argos, but nothing made me feel better than this. As I’ve said before, football is what we do, but things like this is who we are.
3- BLOCK 2: I’ve come to grips with what happened, but Disney might not even accept the script of how it happened.
The day before Grey Cup Sunday was relatively uneventful. I headed back to the hotel after walkthrough and media availability to both thaw out and chill by watching the Western/Laval national semi-final game online. Something happened in that contest that I talked about for the rest of the night, because off the top of my head I couldn’t remember seeing it happen before; there were two blocked field goals in the same game.
Fast forward to the fourth quarter of the game that was played the next day. I was standing next to the first-down marker on the sidelines when Boris Bede had his kick blocked. While it certainly wasn’t a great feeling, the Argos still had a one-point lead.
Fast forward 75 seconds of game time.
It was tough to see in live speed from my angle who blocked Mark Legghio’s field-goal attempt, but to be honest, I don’t think anyone cared; the well-deserved accolades would come later. The mixture of shock and euphoria felt at that moment was an interesting one, but a feeling that was experienced by many on the Argo sidelines when Robbie made the biggest play of his life.
2- THE EASTERN FINAL: It wasn’t just the game itself, an intensely dramatic game between the Argos and Montreal Alouettes, it was the overall event. For the past year many supporters of the Grey Cup-free-since-1999 Hamilton Tiger-Cats proclaimed they were the only reason the Argos drew as many fans as they did to the 2021 Eastern Final. The point was valid to a degree, as a few thousand fans headed up the QEW for the game, which drew 21,492 fans.
This year’s game was attended by 21,331 fans, just 161 fewer that the previous year, and bolstered by fewer than 1,000 Alouettes faithful. It was an exceptionally loud, pro-Argo crowd that shows the team is gaining traction in the Toronto market, and that when rocking, BMO Field can have as great a home-field advantage as any in the league.
The on-field product that day was exciting; filled with big plays and a win by the home team – pretty much a perfect afternoon.
Now the goal is to make it even bigger and better in 2023, and not just for playoff games.
1- THE FOURTH QUARTER: The longest punt return in Grey Cup history. A missed conversion attempt. A starting quarterback being forced to leave with a thumb injury. An interception. A rookie QB rushing for 20 yards on a second and 15 to prolong a drive. A huge punt return. A second touchdown of the game for a man who had been cut earlier in the season. A second interception. A blocked field goal attempt. A second consecutive sack by a player, only to be overturned by a penalty for face masking. A second blocked field goal attempt, this one by the player called for face masking just four plays earlier.
All of this happened in a 15-minute span of a championship game. It was gut punch after gut punch, each team trading what would have normally would have been knockout punches against a lesser opponent. It wasn’t until Robbie Smith’s field goal block that the game’s final blow was landed.
It was a ridiculous amount of mammoth emotional swings in an exceptionally small period of time. I will admit, when Greg Ellingson caught a pass in front of the Argo bench my heart sank. The Bombers were in field goal range and I was only thinking about the possibility of a field goal miss; the thought of another blocked field goal honestly never entered my mind, despite having witnessed two blocks in the Western/Laval game the day before.
When Robbie blocked the kick I immediately looked up at the clock and started doing the math. We had just won the Grey Cup, but it didn’t immediately sink in. Even when Chad Kelly took a knee to end the game, it still didn’t seem real.
I later watched the replay of the game and looked to see the wide shot of the field to see how I reacted. It was obvious that I was in a bit of shock. While everyone was sprinting onto the field, I casually walked onto the field like Coach Dinwiddie had just blown the whistle to end a mid-season practice and called everyone to mid-field.
It wasn’t until the non-stop barrage of hugs began that it actually did sink in.
The Argos had won the 2022 Grey Cup. There is no other choice for the number one moment of the year.