The playoffs will not be coming to Montreal once again. That includes the Alouettes, Impact and maybe even the Canadiens. It’s a sorry time for sports fans in La Belle Province. Can the CFL hurry up and put a team in Quebec City already?
Typically, when the Als aren’t involved Montrealers don’t pay attention to the CFL. Whether that’s a product of poor league marketing around these parts, or the ‘too cool for school’ mentality that us big city folks carry, we wouldn’t otherwise continue to follow pigskin north of the border come November.
But a funny thing is happening on the prairies. There’s a genuinely relatable quality that I believe could lead to many Montrealers rooting for the Roughriders (or is it Rough Riders? We big city folks are so CFL ignorant sometimes).
Indeed, Saskatchewan is headed to the postseason. Sure, they aren’t a perfect team, but they’ve got plenty of momentum – and plenty of former Alouettes!
Let’s start with Duron Carter. While enigmatic to say the least, he was one of the most exciting Alouettes of the last 20 years. Like him or hate him (and there’s plenty in both camps), Carter is a must-watch talent. The fact that he’s playing on both sides of the ball makes him even more watchable.
Next, there’s Marc-Olivier Brouillette, who unretired to join the Riders after a tremendous run in Montreal. Not only is Brouillette a solid performer and leader, but he is as nice off the field as he is ferocious on the field. I played in a charity basketball game with him last January and he was kind enough not to make fun of my jump shot.
Moving on, we have Jovon Johnson, who played his one season in Montreal in 2016. The defensive back put up strong numbers and many still don’t know why he wasn’t kept in the fold. Another good guy on and off the field to root for.
We can’t forget Brandon Bridge, who was shipped out of town by former Als GM Jim Popp. Bridge recently took a swipe at Montreal for not giving him enough time to develop. While it remains to be seen whether the player known affectionately as Air Canada will indeed be a reliable quarterback starter, it’ll be fun for Als fans to root for him this postseason.
Next, we have Vernon Adams Jr. and Kevin Glenn. The former is an excellent college standout that as recently as this late spring was thought to be the heir apparent to Calvillo in Montreal. The latter had a decent one season for the Alouettes.
Sure, there are other former Montreal players to highlight on this Riders roster, such as defensive backs Mike Edem and Ed Gainey, but there’s one final reason that Quebec football fans should root for the Roughriders – Elie Bouka.
Bouka is a homegrown defensive back that was with the Arizona Cardinals (albeit on injured reserve) last season and if not for another injury this summer might have made the 2017 team. He decided to come to the CFL and try and win a Grey Cup before trying his luck again down south. Bouka came in the TSN 690 Montreal radio studios earlier this year and I can confidently state that you will not meet a more pleasant, humble athlete. Personally, I will always root for him – and not just because I whipped his butt in table tennis.
So there you have it. Whether TSN and RDS CFL ratings show that I’m right or not remains to be seen. But I do think that many, many Montreal football fans will be among Ridernation this fall. Just don’t expect any of us to wear a watermelon on our head.
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