- FREE AGENCY
The pivots have been two of the CFL’s best this season, earning their spot in the 106th Grey Cup presented by Shaw as the Stampeders and REDBLACKS go head to head for second time in three years.
For Harris, there’s the chance to prove once and for all that he’s capable of winning the big one. Ottawa’s quarterback already answered his detractors in a big way last week, throwing a playoff record six touchdown passes in a win over the Ticats. A victory on Sunday would further cement his status among the league’s greats.
On the other side, even if he doesn’t admit it, Mitchell will feel the weight of back-to-back Grey Cup losses on his shoulders. It’s inescapable, especially knowing what follows should the Stamps lose on Sunday. The last quarterback to start three straight Grey Cups and leave empty-handed was Sam Etcheverry from 1954 to 1956.
At the end of the day, Mitchell and Harris are successful, winning quarterbacks, whose career resumes speak volumes. They both carry themselves with that confidence, and much of the noise this week will be fueled by fans and media only.
However, perception is everything, and the noise can be heard. There was a reason both quarterbacks deleted their Twitter accounts at varying points of the season, and both of their legacies will be affected by what happens on Sunday.
The writers weigh in with the latest from The Weekly Say:
James Cybulski: Bo. Yes, he’s won before, but the idea of losing three straight title games when you’re considered the best player in the CFL isn’t a rep you want.
Jim Morris: Bo Levi Mitchell doesn’t want to be remembered as the quarterback of three teams that finished first in the West but couldn’t get the job done in the big game.
Chris O’Leary: Bo. No question. Trevor Harris has his monster playoff performance taken care of. He’s won a big game. There are so many issues hanging over Mitchell and Calgary. Two previous Grey Cup failures. His possible NFL future. What free agency could do to this Stamps roster in the off-season. It might be now or never for Bo Levi Mitchell.
Marshall Ferguson: Bo Levi Mitchell. Losing three straight championship games with a team like they’ve had in Calgary would be a shame for Bo and Dickenson.
Don Landry: Bo Levi Mitchell, undoubtedly. Harris has already written a successful personal script for 2018. Mitchell has two straight Grey Cup losses – both punctuated by key interceptions – to erase.
Matthew Cauz: Bo Levi Mitchell. It’s unfair because of all the winning he has been a part of and all his individual success, but the pressure is squarely on him. Losing three straight Grey Cups as the favourite is not a sentence you want on your career resume.
Landry: They do from the standpoint that the REDBLACKS need to have gleaned some very important information from them and need to adjust accordingly. In those two losses, Trevor Harris threw for a total of zero touchdowns and three interceptions, totaling 228 yards, and he completed 53 per cent of his passes. Yes, those games were a long time ago, but they do tell us that the Stamps’ defence had the knowledge and personnel to stop that Ottawa offence.
Cauz: You can make the argument that it doesn’t as they haven’t met since July 12, but at the same time you shouldn’t discredit just how thoroughly Calgary’s defence beat up on not only Ottawa but the entire league. Harris had four games where he did not register a touchdown pass; two of those occasions came against Calgary.
Ferguson: Did the Ticats’ regular season struggles against the REDBLACKS show up in the Eastern Final?
Cybulski: Yes. It’s a body of work the Stamps can use.
Morris: Only if the REDBLACKS fall behind early. Ottawa should go into the game on a high, loaded with confidence. If they score early that will grow. If they fall behind, old ghosts will come back to haunt the REDBLACKS.
O’Leary: No. Confidence is everything and there’s no way, after trouncing Hamilton the way they did, that the REDBLACKS don’t have their chests puffed out Johnny Bravo-style. It’s been months since they faced each other. I think this could be a completely different type of game.
Ferguson: I actually do agree. Maybe it’s because I focus on the East often while covering the Ticats daily, but the Stampeders have somehow become an afterthought to many. An assumption of greatness that leads us to forget about how good they can be.
Cybulski: I disagree. Problem for the Stamps is that they have flirted with being one of the greatest teams in league history but greatness is measured by championships.
Landry: Not in the least. They get plenty.
Cauz: Not at all. I get that the Grey Cup losses do obscure how dominant this team has been in the regular season, but this is classic coach speak. I’m looking forward to Dickenson saying that “nobody believes in them” even though they will be the clear favourite to win on Sunday.
O’Leary: Yo. I did it! All three of my answers rhyme! The Stamps get credit in that everyone wants to take them down. We all know how good they’ve been for the last decade. The target on their backs and the joy that non-Calgary fans get in seeing them lose is their credit.
Morris: I wouldn’t say the Stampeders don’t get enough credit. Calgary’s regular season record speaks for itself. I think after two misfires, people wonder if they can win the last game that counts the most.