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As a snobby, out of touch Torontonian, rarely does the thought “Damn, I wish I was in Winnipeg in late March” go through my head. Now, to be fair, with the weather bouncing between winter and spring, I don’t even really want to be around here right now. But with next week being Mark’s CFL Week in Winnipeg, I’d love to check out the ‘Peg just to be around some football.
We’re in that dead zone between free agency and the start of training camp; I think we’re all jonesing for a hit. With 53 players showing up, tons of events spread over a Jeff Bezos size of real estate I have no doubt the event will be a hit. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for tinkering. So permit me if you will to throw out some modifications to current events and some completely new ideas to spice up this upcoming unofficial long weekend.
New Idea: Make it a real long weekend!
I know that parents must be tired of trying to find ways to entertain their children during March Break, but who says no to a couple extra days off? Let’s start the festivities at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21 and then give the city of Winnipeg Thursday and Friday off to check it out. Just think of the increased level of anticipation the host city will feel knowing a four day weekend is coming!
Now for those of you worried that non-CFL fans would exploit this newfound time off; make everyone answer a selection of CFL related questions to see if they’re worthy of this 48 hour respite from their work week. If you can’t answer who won the Grey Cup, who was the MOP and who is the quarterback of Montreal, then it’s back to work for you on Thursday (Yes, I know, the final question is a trick question).
Modification: Fans vs. the Players for the combine.
One of the events (Football Frenzy Field) allows fans to take part in the same feats of speed and strength that upcoming prospects go through before the draft. With so many current CFL players coming to Winnipeg, I think we can make this event far more interesting.
Instead of measuring your 40 time, let’s see if you can tackle Brandon Banks in the open field. Oh, you think you can dead lift a lot of weight? That’s super, but can you block John Bowman for four seconds? So you fancy yourself as being fairly athletic with a football tucked under your arm? Prove it by making Solomon Elimimian miss as you try to reach the end zone!
Now we have some real stakes going on, plus this event just became way more interactive.
New Idea: Player Skills competition.
Alright, since we know there will be around 53 payers attending, I think we need to capitalize on their wide range of skills beyond just what they do on the football field.
I want Simoni Lawrence and Odell Willis doing 10 minute stand-up comedy sets. Better yet, have them go full Jeff Ross and they engage in a stand-up roast battle against one another! I want Jerome Messam to recreate the Kool Aid guy where we set up a fake brick wall and out of nowhere he bursts through it bellowing “Oh yeah,” surprising/shocking/delighting unsuspecting fans.
Andrew Harris played AAA hockey! So let’s have him strap on some skates and take part in a shoot-out contest with Jamaal Westerman in net. I have no idea if Westerman has ever played hockey, but seeing the big Blue Bomber defensive lineman in net would be a visual delight. And finally, what is a big event with thousands of people without bouncy castles for the kids? I want to have Willie Jefferson hanging out in a bouncy castle! Why? To be honest I’m not sure but I bet it would be compelling to see.
Modification: New events for the CFL Combine top prospects.
Are you tired of seeing 285-pound men running in their underwear in a hotel lobby? I know I sure am. So let’s put these CFL hopefuls through different challenges to see if they’re ready to handle the CFL. Make them run, tackle and block in a foot of snow. How else will be they ready for the Western Final? I want to see them anchor a 16 row long beer snake. What better way to measure their hand-eye coordination? Finally, surprise pop quizzes where they need to explain all the rules for overtime.
New Idea: Can you out baritone Rod Smith?
This one is simple. Two microphones, two sets of barbershop quartet, you versus Rod! Oh sure, we could set it up where you get to call a famous play from CFL history with Rod. But that idea has been done in the past. Let’s see who does a better job belting out “Hello Ma Baby” or “The Longest Time.”
Modification: Challenge Brodie Lawson, Davis Sanchez and Maxmillien Rosenberg at the Twisted Tea Fan Cave
With Brodie and Davis hosting the Mark’s CFL Week Live Show, I am throwing out a challenge to all people attending. Can you get Brodie to eat half a tube of cookie dough? She dominated her 100-day fitness challenge this past season. I’d be shocked if anyone could get her to give in to such a delicious temptation. Can you convince Sanchez that Johnny Manziel would fail as a quarterback in the CFL? I did my best and I could not sway him. Finally, I know that Max has now left his former job with the CFL, but let’s fly him up just to see if anyone can tie a bowtie quicker than him (All the best, Max!!)
Modification: Pronunciation competition at the SportsCentre desk.
Yes, it would be fun to see how it feels to sit behind that desk with Rod, Milt Stegall and company. But we’re going to up the ante: you only get to take part in this event if you can properly pronounce some of the harder names in this league. First up: Akwasi Owusu-Ansah! Good luck, I’ve tried for years and I still fail.
Modification: Other Virtual Reality moments.
I’m not saying that simulating kicking a field goal wouldn’t be fun, I just think we should bring this technology to its full potential. Virtual Jello shots outside a virtual Tim Hortons Field sounds like way more fun. Taking part of a virtual press scrum asking Kent Austin why the team has gotten off to a slow start would be a thrill ride. Imagine walking down the virtual streets of Regina trying to explain to a crowd of Roughrider fans that their team is going to finish last! You’ll be running in place as fast as you can in moments!!!
Enjoy CFL Week everyone!