Saturday, October 14, 2006

HISTORY IN EDMONTON

Well, today in Edmonton the Eskimos lost at home to the Toronto Argonauts 28-25, and with the loss the Edmonton Eskimos have officially been eliminated from the CFL playoffs for the first time in 35 years.

For you Americans wondering about this, keep in mind that the Canadian Football League playoffs are ridiculously easy to qualify for. Six teams qualify for the post-season, and for pretty much all of the last 35 years the CFL has had either eight or nine teams. Teams with losing records are able to make the playoffs and sometimes win the Cup. (There was a period of time in the early '90s when several American teams were in the league, and the playoffs were expanded even more.) This year the CFL has only eight teams, so it's quite a non-accomplishment for the Esks to miss the playoffs this year. But till, 35 years in the post-season- that's pretty good. And keep in mind that many of those Eskimos teams won championships or were at the top of the division, so even if there had been a more restrictive format the Eskimos would have made the playoffs often over the last 35 years anyway.

The streak almost went by the wayside completely in 1983 when the Eskimos went 8-8 on the season, but the Saskatchewan Roughriders were responsible for keeping the streak alive by going into Calgary and beating the Stampeders to knock those guys out of the playoffs that year. Last night, the Riders were responsible for knocking the Eskimos out. They beat the Montreal Alouettes 27-26 in their final home game of the season, one of wildest CFL games of the year in fact, and that set up the Eskimos to be eliminated today with the loss at home.

Interestingly, the Riders have an embarrassing streak of their own to deal with. They haven't hosted a home playoff game since 1988. That's 18 embarrassing years, and the fans there are on the Riders' case about that, too. They've been on and off, calling for coach Danny Barrett's head. And that streak may keep going, too, because the Riders are still in third place. And the Riders haven't won a home playoff game since 1976. Part of the reason for that was a record 11-year streak where the Riders missed the playoffs completely. Anyway, we'll see what happens.

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