1. adverse fortune or fate; misfortune; calamity
2. an adverse event or circumstance:
As early as Week 2, when the Saskatchewan Roughriders were 2-0 after a 36-21 win over Calgary in the 2013 home-opener, I pointed out in this space that the good fortune wouldn’t last forever.
“And you know the adversity is lurking right around the corner,” was what I wrote on July 9.
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As it turned out the team would jump out to a 5-0 start and then extend their record to 8-1 to represent the greatest start in the franchise’s 103 year history.
It was no ground-breaking prediction that the good luck would not last all year because every sports team faces the “Big A” at some point over the course of the season.
But did anyone think it would all come down on the Saskatchewan Roughriders at one time?
Well it did. In a period of about eight days over the past week or so.
It began with the 25-13 loss in the Banjo Bowl in Week 11 which snapped the Riders’ three-game win streak and put them into a tie with Calgary for first-place in the CFL West. Later in the week it was learned linebacker Ray Williams, an inspirational leader who led the team in sacks and tackles, would be done for the season with a torn knee ligament.
Then came the news three members of the team were facing criminal charges stemming from a nightclub incident in August. Pile on the fact that team MVP Weston Dressler and former #1 overall pick Ben Heenan, one of the club’s top offensive linemen, wouldn’t dress for the team’s Week 13 game against Toronto and the bad news started to become an epidemic.
Oh, and then there’s last week’s game against the Argonauts. CFL-leading rusher Kory Sheets of the Riders went down in the second quarter of an eventual 31-29 loss with what, at the time, looked like an horrific knee injury. He never returned the game but we were told afterwards it’s only a mild sprain. We’ll see.
Quarterback Darian Durant threw a season-high three interceptions in the loss and the team was hit with a raft of more injuries. Adversity hit this club like a tidal wave.
But the ship is not going down.
“We are staying positive,” said Rider running back Neal Hughes, who replaced Sheets in the backfield.
“We had a good talk in the locker room afterwards about the only people that can fix this is us. We have to be prepared to get out there, put the work in, and we’re willing to do that. We’re a great team with a lot of great leaders. It’s just a matter of putting it all together and going out to find those winning ways again.”
It was a calm, reasoned approach from a 10-year veteran who’s seen it all through his time with the Green & White. The team will get a couple of days off to collect its thoughts, regroup and reassess, before getting back to work and preparing for Sunday’s meeting with the BC Lions at Mosaic Stadium on Plaza of Honor weekend.
A pause is what’s needed.
And then it’s time to look ahead, not behind.
“Definitely,” Hughes concluded. “That’s a challenge we’re all looking forward to and it’s fun playing divisional opponents, especially as many times as we do. We have to put this game behind us, correct our mistakes, and I know it sounds like a cliché but we need to come out and play Roughrider football.”
That is a really fun, tough, exciting brand of football when it happens.
After a two week hiatus, we’re ready to see it again.
Rod Pedersen is the Voice of the Saskatchean Roughriders on 620 CKRM. You can check out his award-winning blog at www.rodpedersen.com. Follow Rod on Twitter @sportscage.