Saturday, December 06, 2008

Bills (and Bulls) in Toronto: Phil Lind just doesn't get it

Awful Announcing has provided the perfect illustration for how badly Rogers exec Phil Lind has misread the play with the Bills in Toronto.

(This has happened in Toronto before. When will people learn?)

This is not new news, but it's worth putting in front of people and juxtaposing it against what Lind, the vice-chairman at Rogers, told the National Post in the summer:
"Via television, the Bills series will re-introduce Toronto to American viewers as a tourist haven. We will beam our fair city and all its selling points into millions of American homes. Media outlets will do features, journalists will visit. This is the type of opportunity that simply does not come along very often. Those who oppose the Bills-in-Toronto initiative may have the best of intentions, but they are simply wrong."
Well, those orange areas are the parts of the United States that are getting Dolphins-Bills as their 4 p.m. game on CBS. The competition in that timeslot is the Dallas Cowboys-Pittsburgh Steelers game on FOX, which matches two teams which have national followings in America and beyond. Phil Lind's vision of Joe Six-Pack and Betty Housecoat calling travel agencies on Monday morning to inquire about hotel accomodations in Tor-on-to suddenly became much less vast.

To answer USA Today's question, it's not worth reopening the NFL-in-Canada debate. A regular-season game with two out-of-town teams on the fringe of the playoff race, with overpriced tickets, is not going to provide any answers, beyond what people want to believe. That said, when people spew straight-up bullflop about this boosting Toronto's tourism industry, someone has to point it out.

Could we settle this over a couple Wendy's Baconators?

It's ironic this is coming from a writer who has the same name as one of the McKenzie Brothers actors.
"Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills (-1) at Toronto: NFL officials immediately regret moving this game to Canada when the start is delayed while Rogers Centre officials scramble to locate a down marker that has a '4.' " Pick: Dolphins 24-20."
— David Thomas, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
It's a nice line. The real A-hole is anyone up here in America's Hat who responds seriously to a throwaway line in a NFL picks column.

It's amusing, though, to see a U.S. writer be unaware that three-down football was not a Canadian creation. The game that Walter Camp and all those cats developed back in the 1890s had three downs. The fourth down was added to increase offence, which was a slippery slope toward America's quick-fix, instant-gratification society.

One less down was something Canadians, in our what-are-you-gonna-do way, learned to live with, like dismal politicians, lengthy winters and CBC Television. It never seemed to be too big an issue, especially since it meant teams couldn't wait until it was third-and-11 before they actually tried something to move the ball downfield. It's like something Doug Flutie said once: If you have play that will work, why not use it on first down? Why wait? Average yards gained on first down means much more than third-down conversion rates, no matter what the cliche-mongering chair moisteners in the network broadcast booths say every Sunday.

Of course, the Law of Intended Consequences was by keeping the foot in football and having as
much kicking as possible, that meant there could be a Grey Cup where Henry Burris could be MVP even though his team only scored one touchdown.

Coaches down south eventually started seeing the passing game through the eyes of love instead of the eyes of fear. It meant that American football evolved and for myriad reasons, became more fun to watch than the Canadian game.

It only took them several generations, and several times the investment in developing coaches, players, college and pro teams, but American eventually caught up.

Meantime, as any hardcore football nut up here can tell you, there are several levels of amateur football in Canada that do play with four downs. That being said, nice line, eh.

Buffalo Bulls, FTW

How about Turner Gill and those Buffalo Bulls? They blasted Ball State but good in the MAC championship game, 42-24. They're still going to the International Bowl, were, not to bury the lede, they might end up playing against Notre Dame. (Or not.)

Buffalo took control by returning two fumbles by Ball State's all-everything QB, Nate Davis, for touchdowns in the third quarter, including a 92-yard runback for the go-ahead points. Turner Gill will be at a BCS-conference school soon enough. Buffalo was plenty big time enough on Friday.


Anonymous said...

Tourist haven? Ha, this love affair T.O. has with itself and the longing for "world class" status will never come. Toronto is about as bland and mediocre city as there is. May not even be in the top 10 cities in Canada to visit. But if they could just get an NFL team.........

sager said...

Good stuff, but you let us hanging on the 10 cities ... Halifax, St. John's, Québec, Montréal, Vancouver, Calgary ... that's only 6.

Anonymous said...

Smiths Falls, Napanee, Cornwall and Rimouski round out the top 10.

sager said...

Oh, Cloyne is gonna be mad at you.

Duane Rollins said...


The only thing more tiresome than T.O. obsessing over its international reputation is the rest of the country's obsession with insulting T.O.

Let's all get over ourselves, OK?

Anonymous said...

Well I said "MAY" not be in top 10, but if pressed for 4 more, how about Victoria, Thunder Bay, Ottawa and Banff? And it was no insult to T.O., just the facts, it's a bland, vanilla city.

Smiths Falls, Napanee, come on, you forgot fabulous Trenton (which I once enjoyed being referred to as "Woodstock-by-the-sea"!).

Duane Rollins said...

In your opinion.

I've lived all over this country and Toronto remains, by far, my favourite part of the country. And, if you think your initial post wasn't inflammatory, then...come on.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, easy, lived most of my life back there too, have lots of friends there. Know people who love it too, having friends and activities you like goes a long way. I was picking on the Rogers guy and the whole "You like us right? campaign" and the quest to portray the city as "world class". Well, I'm not sure what world-class is, but having toured places like Rome, London, Vienna, even Chicago, I know that Toronto ain't it. And there's no shame, a guy can have a lot of fun and enjoy their lifestyle in places like Cleveland, Houston, Jacksonville, a lot of the NFL cities. You gotta live somewhere. But most of them will never be "world-class". Inflammatory? Well, my apologies, I meant to point out how lame that VP of whatever was being in the article.

Remis said...

Thunder Bay? Ya forsure!

Mike Radoslav said...

I agree with Duane in regards to the tiresome nature of bashing Toronto, but what I'd prefer to see beyond just saying "Toronto is lame" is proof why. I too have travelled all over the world and parts of this country and frankly, wouldn't consider Toronto that bad of a place. But I digress...and will likely be shouted down as well...

Now in regards to the game as I've noted before I didn't go, but watching it on tv one thing I noticed was that Toronto really did NOT get that big boost during the broadcast itself. I'd say the CFL got more of a boost thru the "famous NFL players who also played in the CFL" segment in the First Quarter than anything else. Many cities have received boosts in the past from hosting sporting events but I think Toronto missed the boat on TV anyways.