Our most popular (and controversial) stories of the year

“All you guys do is publish click-bait.”

That’s the single biggest criticism we get here at 3Down – along with “you guys hate the Riders” and “why don’t you ban that donkey guy?” – and while I don’t agree with that sentiment (we run lots of different of content, the vast majority of which isn’t remotely contentious) that complaint might better be rephrased this way:

“Why do you guys insist on running stories people want to read?”

A look through our top-10 most-read stories of 2017 shows a cornucopia of controversy. We don’t run these stories because it brings us some perverse glee; we run them because they’re news and because, well, people read them. And lest you think it isn’t working: our traffic is up almost 200 per cent from last year.

And no, we don’t hate the Riders. That they’ve been at the centre of controversy for much of the last two seasons has more to do with them than us, quite frankly. They also have a strong fan base who consume anything and everything Riders (including our content.) As for Donkey… that’s whole other post.

While we’re here, thanks to all our readers and (most of) our commenters for making this year the most successful in 3Down history. From a personal standpoint, this site has exceeded my wildest expectations and we’re hoping for even bigger things next year.

Anyway, here’s the list. And here’s hoping 2018 is just as fun – and interesting – as 2017 was.

No. 10: Ticats discussed Zach Collaros trade with Riders, received offer from Argos

“Prior to the 29-year-old being benched by new Ticats head coach June Jones, Hamilton was presented with a potential deal from the Argos that would have included three Canadians and a high draft pick. Since Collaros was demoted that proposal fell by the wayside and his trade value has since diminished.”

This is the first of a number of Justin Dunk scoops on this list and the fact that it involved a high-profile quarterback and the Riders didn’t hurt, either. Thing is, Collaros’ future is still a storyline heading into 2018 and the deal the Ticats turned down may look pretty good when all is said and done.

No. 9: Argos make Marc Trestman highest paid coach in the CFL

“Head coaches in the CFL generally earn in the $275,000 to $400,000 range while those with a dual general manager-head coach title can expect a salary in excess of $500,000. For Trestman to be among the top-paid executives in the CFL while solely a head coach is likely to garner attention around the league.”

Given that the Argonauts went from missing the playoffs to winning the Grey Cup the following year, spending big bucks on Trestman’s deal seems to have paid off handsomely for the Argos.

No. 8: Scouting note on every single 2017 CFL draft pick

This was our 2017 CFL draft live blog which featured Dunk and other 3Down contributors providing instant analysis on the CFL draft as it happened. And no, he didn’t break the picks before they were announced on TSN… for this year at least.

No. 7: Riders workout Johnny Manziel. Team denies it.

“Sources with 3DownNation.com say Manziel was put through the paces by the Riders in Florida in advance of last month’s Senior Bowl. Manziel is on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ negotiation list, having been added on Sept. 9, 2012, and Saskatchewan did not have permission to conduct a workout.”

Hoo boy. This is actually the second version of the Manziel workout story which included denials from the team and news that the CFL was investigating. The first version of this story repeatedly crashed the site, to the point where we eventually upgraded our servers. Just including this story on the list will no doubt spark another round of criticism in the comment section and there’s no question it’s the most controversial story we’ve done. One more note: Saskatchewan Roughriders vice-president of football operations and head coach Chris Jones was fined $5,000 by the CFL for meeting with Manziel’s publicist just over two months later.

No. 6: Duron Carter says Bomber fan spit on him, calls them ‘worst in the league’

“Fans responded, most expressing sympathy for Carter – who had 10 catches for 101 yards, including another spectacular grab – with some apologizing on behalf on Bomber fans. But this being social media, a Bomber fan used poor grammar to chirp Carter and call him names.”

No player garnered more attention than Duron Carter in 2017. He made great catches, played defensive back, got into shoving matches with opponents, fought with teammates (more on that in a bit), gave away footballs to cancer-fighting kids, took fans to the movies and played some remarkable football.  Love him or hate him – and there’s plenty in both camps – but Carter was the single biggest newsmaker in the CFL this season.

No. 5: Ticat players slam Kent Austin, don’t want him to return

“Guys really started to get frustrated in training camp. Then when we started losing, there were guys speaking up in the locker room, guys who you wouldn’t expect to speak out,” one player said. Said another: “It became evident he had lost the locker room.”

Dissension in the Ticat locker room had been the source of speculation for some time but things boiled after the season when players, speaking on the condition of anonymity, blasted their former coach and current director of football operations. But owner Bob Young immediately defended Austin – and called me naive – and though he acknowledged discussing other opportunities, he remains with the club.

No. 4: Ticats CEO Scott Mitchell defends hiring of Art Briles

“…Art Briles is a good man that was caught in a very bad situation. Clearly, some serious mistakes were made along the way but we feel strongly that people deserve second chances and that’s what we’ve decided to do with Art Briles.”

The Ticats decision to hire Art Briles, who was fired as the coach at Baylor University after a sexual assault scandal, made headlines across North America – very few of them good. The team reversed the decision just hours after this story was published and Mitchell and team owner Bob Young apologized.

No. 3: #WhatAboutKaren? Bad CFL officiating costs woman a million dollars

Kuldys is the contestant in Safeway’s Touchdown to Win contest – which pays $1 million if two kickoffs are returned for touchdowns in the same game – and looked have the money in her pocket after Bomber Ryan Lankford took the opening kickoff 105 yards for a score and Argonaut Martese Jackson followed that up with another one late in the second quarter. But just as Jackson crossed the goal line after 109 yards, out came a penalty flag.

Karen Kuldys’ losing a million dollars on a bad penalty call – “Oh, they called that,” said TSN play-by-play man Chris Cuthbert at the time – became national news as Milt Stegall’s half-time plea “what about Karen” quickly trended on Twitter. CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said the next day that “the call could have gone either way,” while offering the family of Bomber fans free seasons’ tickets and a VIP trip to the Grey Cup.

No. 2: Interview: Canadian football video game almost ready for launch

“Though the last twelve months haven’t gone exactly as David Winter hoped, he still can’t help but feel optimistic about the future of his soon to be released video game, Canadian Football 2017.”

Yeah, the popularity of this story surprised us too but it goes to show the level of interest from CFL fans in a quality video game. Canuck Play’s final product was largely disappointing and while CFL’s kid-oriented Football Frenzy, released in September, was amusing enough, the wait for a high-quality, CFL-licenced Madden-style video game continues.

No. 1: Incident at practice could lead to Duron Carter suspension

“The altercation – believed to be a fight – took place between Carter and a defensive player and sources say it could lead to Carter being kept out of  Friday’s game against Calgary and possibly longer.”

Yep, Duron again. The practice incident and Carter’s cryptic Tweet – “It was fun while it lasted” – sparked a flurry of speculation around what happened and what would happen next. The Riders downplayed the incident and Carter started at defensive back the following week (after getting chirped by Bo Levi Mitchell) where he promptly returned an interception for a touchdown.

In a year filled with controversy, it seems only fitting that the league’s most controversial player should top this list.

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.
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Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1490 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.

46 Comments on Our most popular (and controversial) stories of the year

  1. Click bait, ban that donkey guy and sick to death with Duron Carter stories. 😉

  2. Officiating was clearly or should be the biggest story in the CFL – poor calls cost all 9 teams millions of dollars

    TSN should be the next for criticism – wow they absolutely stunk , brought back memories of the Liberal CBC days , even Chris Shultz left silently

    • Agree with you, but the commissioner seems to be effecting repair in regard to the officiating.

      As for TSN agree 100%. Rod Black has to go, period. And while were cleaning house show Mr. Suitor the door as well. Chris Shultz would be a welcome return to the panel.

      • Agree. Suitor’s pro Saskatchewan bias because of his past affiliation with the team is nauseating. Bring back Shultz and toss the rest of them out. Otherwise just hit the mute button every time they are on. Long for the days of CTV with Esaw and co.

    • They thought they could go “cheap” by installing coaches challenges rules that frankly, almost ruined the game altogether.

      Here’s a concept: you get what you pays for.

      How about paying referees a decent salary so you can attract some quality talent?
      I know it’s a challenging concept, but it might just work.

  3. Just saying // December 31, 2017 at 5:09 pm //

    Gee I just wish I could post

  4. Duron has fight, with coach from offence (reputedly) involved. Next 3 games Duron put on defence FAR away from offensive coaches, despite Butler, Edem, Gainey, Hecht, Johnson & Olivier available in the games. Hmm. Handled internally. Keep the peace. Flash forward to December. Jackson leaves offence to go to BC – makes sense, for promotion. Will receivers coach Markus Howell follow IF Carter gets signed by Riders? Will other coaches on offence leave for positions elsewhere? If Carter doesn’t catch on in NFL (likely) will Jones pursue him or will he be “outbid” (wink, wink) by another CFL club? Carter likes the Riders but do the Riders like him? More to this story than meets the eye, methinks.

  5. Mr Bo Jangles // December 31, 2017 at 5:18 pm //

    Don’t worry Drew, you don’t have to thank me but this continuous ban is unnecessary.

    • If you want to email me, I can be reached at [email protected]. We can discuss why you are being moderated and how you can potentially return to commenting on the site. Otherwise…

      • Don’t do it Drew. This creep is the very definition of a troll. If you don’t continue to moderate, or better yet permanently ban this clown you encourage a psychopath. See below, the last point is the most relevant:
        Why do trolls troll and how should we manage them? Although research in this area is still in its infancy, a few psychological studies have attempted to answer these questions. There are three important lessons learned.

        First, trolls are more likely to display noxious personality characteristics, that is, traits that impair one’s ability to build relations and function in a civilised or pro-social way. In a comprehensive examinationof their psychological profile, trolls were found to be more Machiavellian (impulsive and charming manipulators), psychopathic (cold, fearless and antisocial), and especially sadist than the overall population. Trolls enjoy harming and intimidating others, so much so that the authors of this study concluded that trolls are “prototypical everyday sadists”, and that trolling should be regarded as online sadism. This is in line with the view of trolling as a form of cyberbullying.

        Second, trolling – like other forms of computer-mediated communication – unleashes people’s impulses by providing anonymity and temporary identity loss. This phenomenon, called deindividuation, is well known to psychologists and has been found to emerge in several areas of interpersonal relations, such as gaming, role-playing and crowd behaviours, particularly hooliganism. Thus even when we are not naturally sadistic, trolling may bring out the worst side in us, by lifting the moral constrains and social etiquette that regulates our behaviour in normal situations, and by fuelling dissent and triggering abrasive reactions.

        Third, trolling is a status-enhancing activity:by attracting readers’ attention, upsetting people, sparking heated debates, and even gaining approval from others, trolls can feel important, perhaps much more than they are in their real lives. Thus trolling is yet another internet activity that promotes narcissistic motives, since trolls may be expected to be far less successful in attracting people’s attention in the physical world. The only effective antidote to their tactics is to ignore them, but even then trolls won’t suffer a public humiliation because nobody knows who they are. This is what makes trolling so ubiquitous – it requires no skills other than the ability to be obnoxious.

    • Dan Bombers // January 1, 2018 at 12:13 am //

      Hahahahaha that’s good stuff right there stampland

  6. I am hoping Duron is back with the Riders he is fun to watch and makes the Cfl a more interesting product. 3 down has benefited from the controversy but also have created it with the Reliable Source useage maybe Duron and 3 down can both grow up next season

    • I’m with Antlerman on Duron Carter.

      I didn’t miss a single Riders game this year for one reason – Duron Carter.

      That’s a great recap of the year btw.

  7. Thank you Drew and all the contributors. A lot of whiners come here to complain but in the end there is no other CFL site I’m aware of that can match this one.

    • Much appreciated.

    • Billinburlington // December 31, 2017 at 7:21 pm //

      Interesting list… so many news items and controversy over the season. The site sure has come a long way since its first launch. I really like the expanded content and CFL league-wide coverage that was added this season. Thanks for all your work and that of all the other contributors over the year- all the best in 2018.

  8. Regular Season Champs // December 31, 2017 at 6:29 pm //

    Great site. It would have to be a full time job to moderate all of this.

  9. Ibleedgreen1111 // December 31, 2017 at 7:04 pm //

    Thanks for the site Drew. Great coverage of the league and teams. I appreciate that you still have a comment section. I like to read other people’s points of view and being able have a discussion with them on there point of view. This was getting hard to do when you have someone always on every Riders story spewing hate. I see by an earlier comment you hopefully have solved this issue. Again its greatly appreciated. People have to remember to keep our league strong we need 9 strong teams with hopefully a 10th in the next couple of years. The league & teams need to figure out how to get more fans in the stadiums as this is still a gate driven league. Keep up the good work and have a good New Years.

    Go Riders!
    Go CFL!!

  10. This was a very interesting and entertaining CFL year. Controversy, great plays, our new stadium in Riderville and much more. In the end lots of good exposure on both sides of the border.
    2018 looks like it’s going to start big with the Manziel situation being resolved as to where he will play. Even more exposure down south hopefully bringing more fans and money.

    That one fan commenting is he only poor thing on here and only one very poor, biased and hateful story written by Ryan Ballentine who makes accusations and spitefully comments with no knowledge. He needs to be more educated before writing about anyone or organizations without facts. It was not his opinion it came from biased judgement.
    Been reading sports pages since I was 7. That was not a sports article. I do enjoy reading comments as well. Of course we’re all for our team. Just don’t make it personal. Sometimes that’s tough.

  11. The 13th Rider // December 31, 2017 at 7:36 pm //

    Carter’s actions were positive and I hate it when the media does not see the other side of this man! He is great and all the Rider’s love em and I believe Richardson will be back, no one in Rider land will expect anything less than that!

  12. Thank you Drew for banning the troll. He brings out the worst in everyone myself included. It’s been nice just being able to talk football without being constantly needled. Here’s to a better 2018. Go CFL, Go Riders!

  13. Colour me green // December 31, 2017 at 8:07 pm //

    I look forward to the donkey post which I assume is coming? Trolling will get out of hand if left to continue. Every team will soon have thier “donkey” which will result in lost readership. Ban abusers.
    The Carter fight was a poor article with revisions retracting earlier reported comments. Literally waiting a few hours would have helped to properly frame the article.
    Otherwise like the banter between the real football fans.

    • Love Canada and the CFL // December 31, 2017 at 8:30 pm //

      Look, Carter and Jones carry controversy. Stories will be written. It may be counter to what you want to hear but that doesn’t mean it’s without merit,

  14. Duron Carter and the Riders are indeed controversial but they also sell tickets. You can run build yourself a spreadsheet using league attendance figures and show that attendance at games when the Riders play anywhere in Canada is on average higher. Why? Many people left SK in the past to escape what was bothering them but they remained Rider fans. They truly are Canada’s team.

    • Love Canada and the CFL // December 31, 2017 at 9:03 pm //

      Yes I agree the riders have best attendance. But that has nothing to do with Jones and Carter

      • Are you kidding us horsey!! Of course the attendance has to do with Jones and Carter. Jones is building a winning team, which fans like and Carter is a very popular addition that has warmed up to fans. In fact, some posts on this site have openly said they go to the games because of Carter. Both these guys have helped the Riders succeed at the box office just like the rest of the players and the franchise has. Go back to your stamps and try to get some of the Cal fans to try and support them, you guys are in big trouble at the box office, that is obvious.

  15. Tons of top notch stories in the CFL this year. Hard to pick one that is the best or most popular. Happy 2018 to all CFL fans.

  16. Gary Paglia // December 31, 2017 at 9:35 pm //

    Tsn fire black and dunigan sounds like he has marbles in his mouth need better refs Manzel will shine look what Jones did with Masoli who has one fifth of the skills Manzel has Cats have a brutal schedule to start season Cal Edm Winp Sask back to back o and 5 to start doesn’t matter who’s at QB but Johnny will shine after 7 or8 games predict cats and Johnny big 2019 season

  17. Wow Gary, that gave me a headache.

  18. Sooooooooo….where are we on that Horsie thing?????

    • he is banned. And I for one do not miss him.

    • Regular Season Champs // December 31, 2017 at 11:44 pm //

      He is going by Love Canada and the CFL now

      • justforkicks // January 1, 2018 at 12:20 am //

        Yea, just use another email address and different commenters tag and good to go until Drew and the boys see through him again. In fairness I have noticed some similar activity from Rider and other fan bases. It’s unfortunate. Keep it clean and don’t be obnoxious, no need to insult every time you disagree. Lots of intelligent and sometimes really funny comments from many others, enough to keep me interested anyway.

      • True green // January 1, 2018 at 6:43 pm //

        And Mr Bo Jangles I believe

  19. Thanks Drew for another great year of stories. Just hope the Ticats can finally become a good team again.

  20. FootballFan // January 1, 2018 at 9:31 am //

    3downnation continues to be a daily point of interest. Thanks for providing well rounded coverage of football thanks to the many contributors. This is most welcome being a football fan living in the Toronto area. Thankfully the Argos are back to being competitive. The game day experience has been fun to say the least. MLSE will bring further attention to the team so a full stadium will be expected and welcome for games. All the best in 2018.

  21. Drew I am now following CFL because of Johnny football. I am impressed with your articles and you opiniated as you should be. I heard you aon broadcasts and you are articulate and make your points.

    I also know that whoever Manziel plays for he will be the most watched CFL player and if focused and complying wuth the conditions set by CFL he could be just what CFL needs.

    I believe in second chances and will send a lot of energy his way to succeed. I do feel you are on that page and will be closely monitoring his performance. All the best to you 2018

    • Great to see another CFL fan come on board but Johnny Football had better be prepared to be a pro QB who understands both his offence and other team’s defences as he’ll find the speed of the game different than in the NFL as the players aren’t the same size all and all those guys on D are mobile and many very quick.

      Those successful in the CFL and NFL at QB knew the game and understood it and respected the CFL as having quality teams and athletes – Warren Moon, Joe Theismann, Joe Kapp, Jeff Garcia, Doug Flutie.

  22. True green // January 1, 2018 at 6:50 pm //

    4 of the top 10 articles are about the Riders, 5 if you include #8. Bring it on haters.

    Drew, fantastic site. I just spent 90 minutes catching up on my CFL news while listening to the waves in the Dominican. I love the CFL and nothing covers it as well as 3DN! Coodos.

  23. rogieshan // January 1, 2018 at 7:06 pm //

    I love this site, where CFL fans can converge daily for stories, news and comments from across the league. I just hope it never gets to the point where a paywall is considered.

  24. rogieshan // January 1, 2018 at 7:07 pm //

    I too love this site, where CFL fans can converge daily for stories, news and comments from across the league. I just hope it never gets to the point where a paywall is considered.

  25. I like the site. CFL news. It’s what I want.

  26. Glenn Chernick // January 2, 2018 at 10:19 am //

    Great Post!, not sure who is getting moderated, if it is Horsey, great, but I believe he is 3DN staff trolling Rider fans for clicks to hat many of them are silly enough to respond to

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