I'll be that guy. I'm the wet blanket.
Sunday was probably just great for Saskatchewan. Just grrrreeeeaaaaaaat. I'm sure they were really happy. I know they want the Grey Cup every year. (But don't we all?) I know we have to celebrate them because they celebrate our Canadian game unlike any other city. I get it.
But I'm sad. As a born Winnipegger with blue bombed blood, I'm sad often, especially when it comes to football. My Bombers are bad and getting worse. They somehow can't find a quarterback in an eight-team league, and their only hope is a former NFL wideout who was banished from the field for all but one explosive, 137-yard game last season.
The Bombers are the unloved losers of the Canadian prairies, while the guys in green get all the credit. They get all the attention. All the love.
Somehow -- perhaps because the Roughriders were once underdogs and now the entire country's broadcasting brotherhood has completely over-compensated -- Rider Nation has become the CFL's version of Leaf Nation. (I don't mean that in a flattering way, but Saskatchewan shouldn't care... they have the best fan base in the league, but that kind of copy/firepower comes with recoil.)
You know how we (everyone West of Thunder Bay) always complain about how CBC only loves the Maple Leafs and nothing else? You know how we have to have our games at, like, 10 a.m. on Saturdays just so it doesn't ruin Toronto's grandfathered-in time slot on Hockey Night in Canada?
Well, that's what any true CFL fan of any other city has to put up with when it comes to Saskatchewan and their puke-coloured Riders.
TSN loves them. They can't stop talking about them or their crowds, or their fans. Every casual CFL listener in Canada has told you at some point, "Oh, I don't watch the CFL... but those Rider fans. Man, they're crazy!"
But why do we have to fawn all over a team that, really, should be our competition? Shouldn't we hate them like we'd hate any other team, or is the CFL just so obviously not the greatest football league in the world that we don't care like we do with hockey?
We're pretty rabid in our defence of our Canucks, our Flames, our Oilers, or our Jets, especially when we're comparing them to the lazy monarchies in Montreal or Toronto. You know, the establishments.
And I can't imagine how bubbly the blood must boil in Ottawa, where the Senators are treated like Fredo Corleone to Toronto's Michael, or Montreal's Vito.
"Oh, don't worry about them," you hear from every hockey fan in southern Ontario. "They're just the Senators. Nobody likes the Senators."
Right... except for people in Ottawa, of course.
So why do we all have to love the Riders? Why oh why are we forced to celebrate Sunday's Grey Cup like it's something we should all enjoy? Why do we have to be happy for them?
Now, as a Blue Bombers fan, I will admit (and I waited until the end to do so) that my hatred for Saskatchewan's only professional sports franchise is currently borne out of jealousy. Out of bitterness.
In a way, I'm like Fredo. I can't stand to see the other brothers get all the credit. I know what people say about me behind my back. Every Bombers fan has to feel for the guy in that scene in Part II, where he's sitting in the armchair and shouting at Al Pacino: "Take care of me?! You're my kid brother and you take care of me?! Did you ever think about that?! HUH?! Did you ever once think about that?!"
And then Fredo finally flips out and says that line -- "I'M SMART!"
It's the one line that sums up his inferiority complex, straight from the rather inept horse's mouth. So I know we Bombers fans are like that. I also know we're not in denial about it, and we know just how bad these past few years have been. Even that run to the Grey Cup in 2011 was stamped out rather nicely by the BC Lions, who won the 99th Canadian championship on home soil. (Or, turf.) The only team that could have beaten the BC Lions that day was the BC Lions, and they almost did.
But I'm sick of all this Saskatchewan crap. I'm tired of having to celebrate a province and a team that, until recently, needed to remind the rest of us that it existed.
I hope the Riders enjoy their time in the sun, but only because I know all suns have to set.
This was originally posted on White Cover Magazine...