Former Ticat Cassius Vaughn plays huge role in Grey Cup win

There were many very Canadian things about Sunday’s epic Grey Cup game in Ottawa but none more than this: in the CFL, no lead is safe.

That slogan, used by the league in its marketing once upon a time, should be carved into Lord Grey’s silver trophy – right next to the names of the 2017 Toronto Argonauts, who won 27-24 in spectacular fashion over the Calgary Stampeders.

And yes, a former Hamilton Tiger-Cat played a key role.

Behind by eight and set to surrender to some insurance points late in the fourth quarter, Toronto defensive back Cassius Vaughn scooped up a Kamar Jorden fumble and took it back 109 yards for a touchdown. A two-point conversion from former McMaster Marauder Declan Cross tied the game.

“I knew Hamilton was tripping when they released me. But it was the best thing for my career,” Vaughn said afterwards. “I’m happy. Can’t be a happier moment.”

The Argos went ahead on a field goal with under a minute to play but Calgary was in range to tie it with a kick of their own when veteran Canadian defensive back Matt Black intercepted Bo Levi Mitchell to seal it for Toronto.

The Toronto Argonauts, Grey Cup champions. At least the Ticats won on Labour Day.

Vaughn was released by Hamilton in the off-season and signed in Toronto in no small part so he could stick it to his old team. Another defensive back, Rico Murray, gets his first ring as does former Tiger-Cat offensive coordinator Tommy Condell, now an assistant in Toronto.

The theatrics on the field managed to overcome the night’s other big story: the snow.

Big, fluffy snowflakes fell for much of the night with kids in hockey jerseys and guys in big puffy jackets driving snow plows clearing the field at every opportunity. Halftime act Shania Twain arrived on a dog sled, was greeted by a Mountie and performed her set in a sequined red jumpsuit: it couldn’t have been more Canadian if she’d chugged a beer on stage.

It had been 21 years since the CFL had a true Snow Bowl for a Grey Cup, dating back to the 1996 game at old Ivor Wynne, the last time Hamilton hosted the championship game. That contest is iconic, known for Eskimo Eddie Brown’s remarkable catch – still cited as one of the memorable plays in history – and the brilliance of Edmonton returner Gizmo Williams.

And yet this game may have topped it.

Just as they were in ’96, the Argonauts were happy to row in the snow, while the Stampeders, the best team in the regular season the last two years, fell short when it mattered most once again.

At 38, Ray wins his third Grey Cup and further cements his legacy as one of the all-time greats. For the second straight week, Ray led his team on a game-winning drive: with the game on the line, he may very well be the best ever.

Mitchell, on the other hand, once again comes up short in the biggest of moments. He – along with the rest of this Stampeders team – will now wear the label of a squad that can’t get it done when it matters most.

There is about to be a debate in CFL circles about starting the season a little earlier so that more games are played in the relatively warm weather of May and June and less in the frigid cold of late fall. The football would be better and the fans more comfortable, or so the argument goes.

That’s exactly right. And so, so wrong. On a night when the CFL showed just how exciting and dramatic it can be, the snow put a perfect Canadian exclamation point on the whole affair.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
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Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1206 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

17 Comments on Former Ticat Cassius Vaughn plays huge role in Grey Cup win

  1. Drew I’m a big fan of your work so I’ll put this down to a very tired journalist but “At 38, Ray wins his third Grey Cup and further cements his legacy as one of the all-time greats” — this was Ricky’s fourth Grey Cup win, two with Edmonton and now two with Toronto.

  2. “Tripping”? No Vaughn, you just plain sucked…that’s why the TC’s released you. They gave you chance after chance. You couldn’t tackle, you couldn’t hold on to a sure interception if your life depended on it, you took stupid penalties, and the Coppertone people were complaining that they were running out of product because of your bad case of windburn allowing opposing receivers to run right by you.

  3. Philski. I don’t think you understand the whole “he who laughs last” concept. Enjoy your diss but he’s got the ring.

    • Mahmoud Ali // November 27, 2017 at 6:08 pm //

      Hilarious riposte there Rick, loved it!

    • My dear Abacus friend…I regret that I need to correct you…again. I indeed understand the “he who laughs last” concept…the proverb being sourced from good old jolly Tudor England circa 1608 (the year Austin was born). But I won’t bore you with historical data. And there is no hiss, er diss, on my behalf, just fact. Fact is Vaughn’s coverage abilities befitted those of a mannequin whilst he was a Tiger Cat. Matter of fact I would have chosen the mannequin most games he played as he was simply horrid. Him being chosen to the Eastern All-Star Team and GC play doesn’t preclude how terrible he was as a Tiger Cat. The fact that he verbally chastises the TC organization, after they basically pulled him off the football scrap heap after 5 NFL teams gave him the boot, only illustrates what a classless individual he is. I’m glad he is no longer a TC despite the success he has had with the Argos. Matter of fact, I’d rather take the mannequin.

  4. Agree with Philski. He sucked back there and I was surprised when the cats resigned him.
    Maybe it was the coaching but he did nothing while in Hamilton.

  5. Cassius Vaughn was cut by Kent Austin and goes on to be an East Division All-Star. All Vaughn needed was to attend his first CFL training camp and a good coach and he got both in Toronto.

  6. One mans trash is another mans gold as they say. With a change of scenery and a new voice leading the way in Trestman it appears several former TiCat employees came out the big winners. Best of luck to them and the Argos.

  7. Good for CV. His is not a one-off story; lots of examples of good players (and coaches) not fitting in for one reason or another, on one team and flourishing and/or seizing the moment on another team. Will be forever so.

  8. One of the great Cup finals…’nuff said.

  9. when are 3dnation going to put up the free agents from every team the season is over now

  10. Anthony Kaduck // November 27, 2017 at 4:32 pm //

    The rookie Cassius Vaughn didn’t play well enough to stay with the Cats, but he went on to have a decent season for the Argos and made a great play in the GC. So good luck to him and enjoy the win. The guy I am happy for is Rico Murray. He was a great Ti-Cat for a number of years and the fan base was puzzled when he was released. I’m glad he got a chance to hoist the mug.

    • Murray wasn’t released – he was a free agent and had had some injury problems over his past couple of years as a Ticat. The team may have chosen not to re-sign him or it’s possible he decided to move on.

  11. Koko B.Ware // November 27, 2017 at 5:35 pm //

    He made a great play??
    He picked up the ball that was just sitting there and RAN!

  12. Feeling Blue // November 28, 2017 at 10:10 pm //

    Thank you Cassius Thank you so much.

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