Monday, October 31, 2005

RIDER NATION IN SHOCK

Well all fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders have to be shaking their heads in disbelief over the charges of aggravated sexual assault levelled at Trevis Smith.

And today comes word that the Riders knew he was HIV-positive for a full year, but they claim they were told they couldn't make this knowledge public. Great. Anyway I don't care so much about his HIV status. I care about these charges. This is horrible. If he did this crime he deserves to go to jail for a long period of time.

And Rider fans are livid. I tune in to the talk shows from Saskatchewan from time to time and people there are ready to hang general manager Roy Shivers and head coach Danny Barrett over this season's debacle. Everyone wants these two fired. They keep on harping about thirty years of losing football, conveniently forgetting they won the Grey Cup in 1989. Still, that's one Grey Cup in what, thirty years? That's terrible! The Riders haven't had a first-place finish since 1976, either, and have played only one home playoff game (which they lost, in 1988, to BC in a complete blowout). They've blown two playoff games on missed kicks including the one in BC last year. It's been thirty years of total mediocrity for the playing customers who travel miles to Regina for the games. Then they sit there and fry in the sunshine, they drink their beer, see the team lose again, and that's their excuse to go nuts on the radio, calling John Lynch's postgame show to complain all the time on CKRM.

The reason Rider fans are so nuts is because there is nothing else to do in Saskatchewan. There is no NHL team to follow, so they waste their time going nuts over the 'Riders. The local media gives this team saturation coverage, so everyone knows everyone on the team. You would think it's a great atmosphere, to play in one of the few places in Canada where people go nuts over football games, but for this group of cowards in Regina it's actually a lot of pressure. Rider players feel they're under the gun to perform like nowhere else in the Canadian Football League. At least in Winnipeg and Hamilton they've won the occasional Grey Cup, so the fans there sort of lay off of them, but in Saskatchewan they're known to pelt your house with eggs and dump manure on your front lawn if you screw up.

The 8 and 9 'Riders will be going on the road in the playoffs again and before this week unfolded the players thought that might be a good thing, to get away from these miserable fans. Lucky for them that Ottawa lost on the weekend, because they might have gone into this week's game with BC fighting for their playoff lives and with this huge scandal hovering over them. Instead, it's a complete nothing game, and the Riders have to be going "thank God" after this week of distractions. Because with this unbelievable Trevis Smith incident, the players are never going to hear the end of it this week.

And they'll never hear the end of it in the playoffs either. What momentum they have- the little of it left- is shot. I'm convinced this is the end for Shivers and Barrett. This has sealed their doom. They will need to go all the way to the Grey Cup and win it, just to keep their jobs. At least the good news is that they have a couple more weeks to polish up their resumes and make phone calls before they are fired. Maybe the Arena League will take them.

The Riders are in a SHAMBLES.

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