Sunday, June 11, 2006


It was cut-down weekend in the CFL (see Smith, Onterrio), where athletes sustained by an unquenchable hope in themselves took the inevitable bounce out of the world of pro football and realized they now have to face stupid reality again. Well, except for the guys who stay in shape hoping that someone gets hurt. Or the Canadian rookies who can still go back and play in the CIS this fall (yet another quirk of our game which makes Americans go, "Huh?").

At first, it didn't register when the Toronto Argonauts cuts flashed by on the sports ticker last night and the name of quarterback Charlie Peterson appeared. However, if Peterson is out, that must mean ...

Eric Crouch made the team. The 2001 Heisman Trophy winner out of Nebraska, last seen playing QB in a real game in that season's Rose Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes, has been retained as Toronto's No. 3 QB. Thus begins another chapter in a career which has seen Crouch:

  • Chafe at being moved to receiver by the St. Louis Rams, quit football and return his signing bonus;
  • Sign with the Green Bay Packers, who were never serious about trying him at QB, since it was obvious he didn't have 'The Gun' to overthrow receivers and force passes into double coverage as only Brett Favre can do;
  • Play safety for something called the Hamburg Seawolves;

Don't get any illusions. Crouch at best will play only sparingly, or mercifully, unless something awful befalls Damon Allen and backup Spergon Wynn.

And Out of Left Field, for one, welcomes this weak-armed U.S. import, since the CFL is all about reclamation projects and players who didn't fit the cookie-cutter NFL.

If Crouch really wanted to drive himself nuts, he could contemplate how much money he'd have in the bank if he'd successfully converted to wideout, like Antwaan Randle El (five years later, still the most exciting quarterback from the 2001 NCAA season) did after coming out of Indiana.

However, the Heisman is history. Crouch is just like any other QB, eager to get a chance to be at the helm of an offence -- whatever way you spell it.

On the topic of CFL passers, veteran QB Khari Jones was cut by the Edmonton Eskimos, likely signalling the end of the line for the 2001 league MVP. Jones had it all in Winnipeg as recently as three seasons ago, but even then, nothing he did ever seemed enough for Blue Bombers fans.

Know what's in reminscent of? In his Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James talks about how the San Francisco Giants, in the 1960s and '70s, employed a Willie Mays standard for outfielders: that is, if a young outfielder wasn't Willie Mays, they traded him. So plenty of decent players -- Bobby Bonds, Dave Kingman, Gary Matthews Sr., Garry Maddox -- were sent out of town, since no one realized that there was only one Willie Mays.

That's kind of what it was like with Winnipeg fans and Khari Jones. The guy consistently put up numbers in his four full seasons, but never lived up to some ideal fans, media and management collectively had of a quarterback. So as soon as he slipped -- gone!

And two years later, Winnipeg is still looking for a quarterback. Funny how that happens.

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