Monday, November 15, 2004

AGONY IN RIDERVILLE

All of us fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders are in agony today, again, because our team lost a really tough, heartbreaking OT CFL playoff game in BC to the Lions. Had the Riders won, they would have gone to the Grey Cup game. Instead, they went home.

My family is miserable over this defeat. Apparently my brother was actually at the game, too, witnessing this debacle live. Truly, truly a dark day for Rider Nation.

But as bad as it is to be a Riders fan today, it is even worse to be Paul McCallum. McCallum missed a lousy 17-yard field goal in OT, then BC kicked a field goal and won the game.

Now the fans in Regina have reacted the way you expect these people to; with no class at all. A few total losers went over to McCallum's house in Regina and threw eggs at his house. Then another guy dumped a pile of manure on the poor guy's front lawn. Way to go, bud, for dumping manure on his front lawn; you've confirmed every stereotype about Saskatchewan that people back east have about the place--- about it being Hicksville, full of farmers and cattle and tumbleweeds and the like. Full of no-lives types who have nothing to do but cheer on the 'Riders and dump manure on peoples' houses when they lose. Charges are being laid for what's gone on.

Really, these idiots in Regina didn't need to react this way. They should have reacted with more couth. The truth is that McCallum's in enough agony already. He couldn't even go into the locker room to face his teammates after the game. He also knows another thing: he's gonna lose his job. Let's face it, Paul McCallum had a terrible season. You can bet that the first priority for general manager Roy Shivers will be to find a replacement for this chump, and boot McCallum out. Poor Paul McCallum will be lucky to get a job in the Arena League next year. So give him a break, eh?

The thing is that it wasn't all McCallum's fault that they lost. The Riders fumbled the ball away at the BC 5-yard line, and the Lions went right back down the field and scored a touchdown. The whole team gave this game away. But McCallum is the one who qualifies as the number one chump on the team for blowing that field goal in overtime.

McCallum goes down as the Scott Norwood/Bill Buckner of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and he really didn't deserve getting his house pelted, just as Ron Lancaster didn't deserve to get booed by Rider fans in his last game in 1978. But that is actually par for the course in Regina, the dark side of playing in Riderville. Rider fans can be the most merciless in the Canadian Football League to their teams, because Rider fans have had to put up with lots of losing and blown Grey Cup games, especially 1972 and 1976. Because the Riders are the only game in town and because the fans have to put up with a lot- including long drives from miles away to get to the games- the fans can certainly turn on the team when it lets them down. That's the price you pay if you play in a place where football is king, where it's part of the prairie landscape and the number one sport. Saskatchewan fans have had their heart fed to the cat on far too many occasions.

So I feel for the fans, and I feel bad for McCallum. I really feel sorry for him and feel bad he got his house pelted by ungrateful fans. But I don't feel bad enough for him to want him back on the Riders next year. Get rid of him! I want this Rider team to win a freaking Grey Cup again in my lifetime! Sorry, Paul McCallum, but that's life in football-- the dark side of it.

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