There is no better way to waste time then to get lost in YouTube. From Arcade Fire concert footage, to ‘'Big Lebowski' montages to random acts of twerking (I just learned what that meant, oh what an age we live in) I can easily go several hours surfing through YouTube without realizing it's past 1am.
Well, I found an entirely new theme to feed my addiction, vintage CFL games!
Originally this column was going to break down the best and worst CFL uniforms of all time in honour of the Argonauts and the Lions releasing their third jerseys. I have mixed feelings when it comes to adding new jerseys, but I'll save that rant for another day.
I figured the best way to look up shots from CFL uniforms past would be to check out archival footage, so naturally I hopped on to the YouTube machine and started watching playoff games as far back as 1960.
In the middle of this research I realized I had stopped judging and shaming the uniforms from the Diefenbaker era and was simply enjoying the broadcasts.
So instead of an extensive Best and Worst Dressed list I have come up with four fun old tyme CFL videos for your approval. Plus at the end of this column I'll present what could have been the biggest fashion disaster in the history of the league.
1) The 1960 Grey Cup
How often do you get to watch the greatest Canadian born quarterback to ever play in the CFL? At this point I would just like to see a Canadian take a snap under centre, but I have written about that in the past.
Let's call this first video your appetizer for what's to come. Less than a minute long, the clip is a 32-yard touchdown pass from Russ Jackson to Bill Sowalski. There are two highlights here. The first is the brilliant play fake by Jackson who fools everyone on the field and the majority of the TV production crew.
Even better is we are treated to this line during the replay of the touchdown:
"And there was a lot of fine hipper-dipper in that Rough Riders back field." As someone who gets tired of clichés and over analysis I loved that very accurate description of all the misdirection that was indeed going on in Ottawa's backfield.
As for the uniforms I enjoyed the stars going down the side of the pants of the Ottawa players. Kind of reminds me of Han Solo's outfit from 'Star Wars'. It has been well established that I am a nerd, let's just move on.
2) The 1979 Eastern Semi-Final between Ottawa and Hamilton.
Let's start with the uniform. I'm a big fan of the big giant "R" on Ottawa's helmets. Throw in the black and white colour contrast and the red accent lines and you have a Top-Five all-time uniform. I'm not sure how I feel about Hamilton's.
Either you think they're really sharp with the simple tiger on the helmet and the black and gold feel or you think the stripes on their sleeves look like giant bumble bees. I'll let you make the call.
As for the video, a couple things stand out. Much like with Russ Jackson, it is such a novelty to get see Condredge Holloway throwing darts all over the field. His touchdown pass to Jeff Avery looked very Doug Flutie-like.
As for Tom Clements, well it's nice to see that the brutal across the field pass that is picked off and returned for a score has been going on for decades. Here I was thinking that Winnipeg had sole ownership of such plays. But what makes this video so entertaining has nothing to do with football. I love the shots of the crowd in their myriad of toques.
Hipsters everywhere would be in heaven with so much selection, of course since everyone else liked it I guess that means that the Hipster crowd would have to find something else to wear while indoors or outside in sweltering heat like conditions.
Also, and this may not be the right thing to say but all the shots of fans smoking in their seats always gets me. I know I am not supposed to endorse it, and yes the children are the future, but it brings me back to my childhood when public health concerns and political correctness did not exist.
Remember, I'm old enough to remember flying on planes when you could smoke in your seat. For the record, no I don't smoke, but I won't judge you if you do. Moving on.
The 1987 Grey Cup between the Toronto Argonauts and the Edmonton Eskimos.
How could I could I not include what is considered to be one of the greatest CFL games of all-time? Edmonton's 38-36 victory is one for the ages and should be seen by all. Unless you're an Argonauts fan, you're excused. Who needs to see their team lose?
Unfortunately for Toronto the agony of defeat is only slightly worse than the pain inflicted on my eyes looking at those horrible uniforms.
I understand one of the team's nicknames is "Double Blue" but neither shade of blue works for me. The most offensive part of the uniform is the helmet that has all the dignity of a hamburger shaped telephone from the mid 1990's. What is that? A football looking ship or a ship looking football? I can't decide! Just like the 1980's this feels tacky and obvious.
I would mention all the football highlights but there are too many to list here. Instead some of the best moments for me include:
1) The announcers bringing up that Bob O'Billovich compared his quarterback, Gilbert Renfroe with a "young Warren Moon". Considering Renfroe would be out of the league in a couple years I think "Obie" may have been overstating things just a wee bit. I wonder what Moon must have been thinking when he heard this comment. Did he immediately burst out laughing or was he filled with rage at such a crazy proclamation.
2) You get to watch Chris Schultz in action! Go back and study the job he did. If you find any mistakes in his game please feel free to send him an e-mail about it. Actually I bet Chris would respond with a detailed response about what happened on just about every play.
3) You know what, just go back and watch the opening couple minutes of pre-game. The graphics and overall package feels like you're getting ready to play Madden 94 on your Sega Genesis.
The 1976 Grey Cup between Saskatchewan and Ottawa.
Over four hours long! Someone posted a four hour video on YouTube. My first guess was that had to be a nutty Saskatchewan fan but they lost the game. So I'm going with a fan from our Nation’s Capital who is counting down the return of Ottawa to the league.
I'm not going to lie to you, I did not watch the entire game so I can't give you a breakdown of all the action. Instead here are some of moments that stood out for me.
If you think that focusing on the arm strength of a quarterback is relatively new phenomena, think again. Even 40 years ago it was an important part of the conversation. The announcers make the point that Ottawa's Tom Clements has more "than enough arm strength" while showing a long touchdown pass from the week earlier.
I only bring this up to reinforce the fact that nearly every storyline that we pick apart in 2013 are the exact same ones that were being discussed in an age where the broadcasters all wore very tacky suits in colours that can only be described as "distracting".
Speaking of arm strength go back and watch as much of Saskatchewan's offence as you can. Even in his 17th season Ron Lancaster still has a hell of an arm.
The other specific football moment I want to bring up involves the amazing Tony Gabriel. After watching him play I demand the CFL mandate that every team must have a tight end on their roster who must be thrown to at least 17 times a game.
The guy was always open. On a quick tangent I would also like to see quarterbacks have to line up under centre every now and then.
It was jarring at first to see but after awhile it was refreshing to see a play that did not start in shotgun.
All right back to Gabriel.
The signature highlight from that game is Tony Gabriel’s beautiful last second touchdown catch sealing the win. However go back and watch the play right before (3:15:00 mark). On a second-and-long Gabriel makes a clutch catch on a crossing pattern. Two points about that play.
First he took a wicked shot right after making the reception and somehow hung on to the ball. Second, after he is down another Saskatchewan defender hits him while he is on the ground.
Amazingly no flag is thrown and just as telling the announcers don't even mention it. This play illustrates just how different the game is played now versus in the "old days".
I am not passing judgment nor am I saying which era has it best. It's just so eye opening to see the contrast in style.
Some of the non football highlights:
1) Check out the in-the-crowd interview with Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau. For the most part it is your standard interview with the reporter trying to get the PM to give a prediction while Mr. Trudeau does his politician dance and not give a straight answer. Of course the second question was in French so I have no idea what they were saying. As someone who dropped out after grade nine French I'm assuming the question was: "Can I go to the bathroom my pen is blue."
However what makes this exchange stick out is the outfit that Mr. Trudeau is wearing. Ha! You thought I was not going to mention a "uniform". Our former PM is decked out in a fur cap and a fur coat. Imagine the media storm that would have reigned down upon us if Prime Minister Harper tried to attempt such a fashion faux pas.
2) I loved seeing all the establishing shots of the city of Toronto. Did you know there was a time when our lakefront was not littered with cookie cutter condominiums that all look like glass cages?
Now before I leave I want to leave you with this image. Go on, take a look:
That was a proposal for the logo for the Miami Manatees. Thankfully this team never got off the ground. But I want you to think about that big creature cradling a football before you complain whenever your team gets a new uniform. Yes, you may hate the new logo and that splash of teal is horrible but it could be worse. At least your team's mascot isn't one of the world's laziest animals.
Matthew Cauz is the Weekend Host for 'GAME DAY' on TSN 1050 Radio. Previously, he was a producer and football analyst for SUN TV where he appeared regularly on the “Casino Rama Grill Room” and he spent seven years working for TSN's “Off The Record”. Follow Matthew on Twitter @mcauz56.