Grey Cup Sunday: Football, Canadian Style

I’m not the CFL fan I was in the days of Garney Henley and Joe Zuger, Ben Zambiasi and Chuck Ealey. (Does anyone out there know what I’m talking about?) I’ve seen some highlights from the Canadian and National Football Leagues (interesting how the “national” league claims it plays for the “world championship”, isn’t it?), but I haven’t actually watched a game this year. I was determined to at least see the Cup. (I make the same general rule for the Super Bowl, which usually has ten times the hype and half the excitement.) Anyhow, I apparently don’t move in the right circles to wangle an invitation to a Grey Cup party with a decent television, so I ended up working my magic on the rabbit ears and the mighty CBC telecast came through fairly well. Had the living room all to myself. (Sigh.)

The first half was like a lot of Super Bowls, filled with tense athletes and careful coaches and defences preying on the timidity of both. 10-1 at half, a bit of a yawner. Halftime was one of those weird spectacles, where dancing girls and extras are brought around a stage – tiny in the midst of a football field – and the camera operators keep a tight focus so that we at home can’t see what they can: stick figures on a stage playing to a hundred people, acres of turf and half-empty stands (there are more beers and goodies to be inhaled, and incredible quantities of urine to be leaked).

So home’s the best seat in the house, which matters not a whit if you have to watch the Black Eyed Peas. This was my second BEP sighting, and I don’t get it at all. Sure, I’m a forty-something guy who had a James Taylor phase, but I can get hippity every once in a while. Eminem’s a bit toxic, but he’s a talent. I’m getting to know dear old Public Enemy a little, and I actually dig Buck Sixty-Five with a fairly large shovel. But the Peas? Please. Somebody has to explain this to me. (Unless it’s all about a blonde singer grinding with men of colour. Nah. Couldn’t be.)

Anyhow, the second half made me pay attention again: play upon play, lead change after lead change, overtime thrills, a bonehead play by a brainy quarterback. My joint was jumping and I  was the only one there. So I may not get the halftime show, if I ever did, but I still get football, Lord help me, and nothing beats the big-balled Canadian version (with its imported American stallions) when it’s at its best.

(Just one more thing: Madame Jean, nice to see you there for the presentation of your predecessor’s famous gift to Canadian football. But if the Governor General is going to honour the champs with Lord Grey’s famous mug, she shouldn’t do it while playing Vanna White — is she still alive and flipping? — to the CFL Commissioner’s Pat Sajak. I’m just saying.)