- Free Agency
“I think my wife might sign me up for a new ballet class or something,” Jeff Perrett joked after being thrown for a Rocky Horror Time Warp less than 48 hours after Halloween.
The Als’ sturdy right tackle will take a jump to the left on Saturday night in the Lions’ Den, hoping to plug the gap left by a season-ending injury to Montreal’s Outstanding Lineman nominee Josh Bourke.
It’s quite ironic; really, that the Alouettes’ hopes to host the East Final could be blindsided even before they hit the field, seeing as how the man protecting Anthony Calvillo’s blindside won’t even be there.
Bourke was downcast on the day he learned of his Outstanding Lineman nomination, taking some consolation in the fact he would do all he could to ease Perrett’s switch from the right to the left and help rookie Jeraill McCuller settle in for his second CFL start.
“It’s everything basically backwards,” points out Perrett, who many around the league believe would have been just as worthy a choice for the Als’ nomination. “I played the left side back in 2008 my first three games, so just like riding a bicycle I guess.”
“It’s nice to know that the coaches have confidence in me moving over there.”
For Bourke, though he can’t be on the field helping his teammates, he’ll do everything he can to help them off of it.
“I’ll sit in meetings, I’ll help coach them up,” Bourke said, trying his best to sound upbeat.
Meanwhile, Calvillo tried to reassure everything that he’s never been concerned about his protection, as he always assumes the big men will get the job done.
Nominated by his team as the MOP for the ninth time in his illustrious career, Calvillo knows that despite all the accolades that follow him on every field, the fans expect nothing short than another Grey Cup appearance.
“It’s been a crazy year. It could have gone to many different guys on this team. Jamel had an excellent year; Whitaker had an excellent, excellent year. It could have gone to any one of those guys.”
“This whole year has been tough—you just can’t afford to make too many mistakes. We’ve had five or six guys making two or three mistakes each, myself included, and we just can’t have that. We need to start getting ourselves over the edge and that starts this Saturday.”
The injury situation gets even trickier for head coach Marc Trestman, as receiver Kerry Watkins will also miss the remainder of the season.
Brandon London and Eric Deslauriers will pick up the slap for the injured veteran.
Should any other receivers fall to injury, rookie Bo Bowling may be next in line. He’s heard all the cynical jokes about being a “possession receiver” back in his college days at Oklahoma State.
Bowling spent 15 days in the appropriately named Payne County Jail and pleaded guilty to three felony charges including possession down to a misdemeanour. He’s been over-paying his debt to society for two years.
He’s intent on beating the returned returner Tim Mapray to be the third kick-return specialist in three weeks for Montreal.
His voice broke with emotion as he spoke to me about what fielding that opening kickoff in BC would mean to him.
“I made mistakes in the past and football is the reason I got over it. Oh man, I get emotional thinking about it. This will be for me, but for my father and my coach who stood up for me.”
So no scoreboard watching Saturday, Als – unless you’re Brian Ridgeway.
“I won’t bother looking at the Blue Bombers’ score. Just the Warriors game.”
The Als’ special teams warrior is a graduate of Grand Prairie Composite High School, the school that made headlines last week due to a tragic car accident that took the lives of four teenagers and left one in critical condition.
All were members of the school’s football team, the Warriors.
“Warriors and our community, we say ‘we gotta do this, we’re gonna do this together. ‘ No Hollywood ending’s guaranteed for anyone. The bottom line is these young kids have lost really close friends and they need health and support, to mourn properly and keep the memory of their friends alive.”