June 24, 2019

O’Leary: Who’s saying ‘how ya like me now?’ after Week 2

The Canadian Press

It was November, 1987, and Kool Moe Dee was steaming mad.

It might have had something to do with his feud with LL Cool J — the cover of the album he was working on would feature his rival’s distinctive red Kangol hat parked under a white Jeep — but the rap pioneer might have just had a chip on his shoulder, too.

He became a legend in the genre’s earliest days, when an artist might pack clubs or be the life of a party, but mainstream success — videos and more importantly, record sales — weren’t guaranteed.

So maybe with the frustration of the music that he poured himself into not yet getting the recognition it deserved and maybe aided by his annoyance with a younger rapper that he thought didn’t respect the architects enough, Kool Moe Dee went to work.

In the video for How Ya Like Me Now, he’s impeccably decked out in peak late-1980s gear: A white flatbrush hat; his trademark wraparound glasses; a white leather jacket with only a gold chain underneath; black leather driving gloves; acid wash jeans and what appear to be white leather boots.

In the first verse of the song, he has a generic rival rapper tied up in a chair. He chastises him for stealing his style and getting paid for it. He snatches the enormous chain of the guy’s neck and says he’s taking the style back.

They said he could only rock rhymes, only rock crowds, but never rock records.

The camera stops on him, he breaks out a spin move that would make Dwight Schrute jealous, the James Brown sample behind him cuts out and five words that still linger over pop culture 32-years later follow.

How ya like me now?

We’re only two full weeks into the season, but there are already a handful of players and teams that have to at least internally be feeling that same level of spin move/arms folded swagger that Kool Moe Dee showed in his video.

Let’s start with Dominique Davis.

The story of the Ottawa REDBLACKS’ off-season had been about what they’d lost. Trevor Harris went to Edmonton for more money and took Greg Ellingson and SirVincent Rogers with him. William Powell bolted for Saskatchewan. Jaime Elizondo left for the XFL in April.

At 29, Davis has been around the CFL for five years now but is still something of an unknown commodity. He was a training camp cut in Calgary in 2015 that became a seldom-used backup in Winnipeg from 2015 to 2018. He signed with Ottawa last year and backed up Harris.

He beat Jon Jennings for the starting gig in training camp this year and while he got a win in his first start against Calgary, he also threw four interceptions with no touchdowns. He followed that up by providing one half of an amazing QB duel in Week 2. He was 30-39 for 354 yards against Saskatchewan, throwing for three TDs and zero interceptions. Most important, Davis and the REDBLACKS are 2-0.

It’s just one week but it was a significant performance that made Ottawa GM Marcel Desjardins’ calmness in the wake of Harris’ departure seem like he might have known something that the rest of us didn’t.

That brings us to the other half of that duel.

In his first start with the Riders, Cody Fajardo delivered a jaw dropping performance, making 27-34 passes (that’s 79.4 per cent) for 360 yards and two touchdowns, while running another in from short yardage. Fajardo’s path to starting shares similarities with Davis’. He’d been a backup in Toronto and BC before signing with the Riders over the winter. Zach Collaros’ Week 1 injury opened the door for the 27-year-old, but he was underwhelming with the opportunity.

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Given the start on Thursday in Ottawa, Fajardo showed us a lot. He cleanly found Marcus Thigpen for a 19-yard TD to open scoring. He rifled the ball up the field to set himself up for a perfectly-placed 51-yard heave for a Shaq Evans TD to end the half. While Ottawa’s offence rolled, Fajardo never flinched. He just continued to try to fire back. It was a tremendous change from what we’d seen from him in years past and even in Week 1, where happy feet seemed to lead him out of the pocket immediately after the snap, with little gains for the offence. The Riders are 0-2 but they got a glimpse of the QB play they’ve been looking for since Darian Durant left Regina. That’s big.

Also big? The Edmonton Eskimos sitting at 2-0. Sure, at this point in the season your good start can disappear as quickly as it came to you, but the Esks deserve some praise. Mike Reilly’s departure was big, even with GM Brock Sunderland replacing him with a proven entity like Trevor Harris. Similar to the Lions, there was a ton of roster upheaval in Edmonton this winter and with that come questions of players fitting on a roster, of chemistry and how long it might take for it to all come together. In their win over BC — a team going through the same questions and not faring well so far — the Esks showed the early signs of being a powerhouse team.

Harris leads the league in passing yards. Ellingson is first in receiving, with Ricky Collins third.

C.J. Gable leads the league in rushing. Edmonton’s defensive line roared to life against the Lions, sacking Reilly seven times. A lot can still happen this year, but the retooled Esks look like they’re for real.

Hands up if you knew when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats got their starting running back (not you, Marshall Ferguson).

 

Two years ago, Sean Thomas Erlington heard 65 names called in front of his at the Canadian draft before going in the seventh-round. The Montreal native made a small impact last year, with 34 carries for 218 yards and a rushing touchdown. This year, the 26-year-old has exploded out of the gate. Sure, the Argos ran into the heart of a buzzsaw on the weekend, but Erlington was one of the sharpest blades on the wheel. He danced through Toronto’s defence on 12 handoffs for 109 yards on the ground, but did you see the absurd catch he made at BMO Field? He stretched out, showing every bit of his running back build — five-foot-nine and 219 pounds — and made a play that’ll rival anything that Ellingson, Derel Walker, Brad Sinopoli or S.J. Green will do this year. So far, he’s second in rushing this season, with 177 yards and a 7.7-yards per carry average.

Finally — and you may not like this pick — we need to talk about Simoni Lawrence.

The Ticats’ linebacker is a lightning rod of controversy right now, given that he’s appealed the two-game suspension he was given by the league for his hit on Zach Collaros in Week 1. His presence on the field on Saturday was debated by many (personally, I think he should have taken the suspension and moved on) but he seems to have taken the black hat and run with it. Lawrence has 10 interceptions in his eight-year career. He has two in the last two games, both of them game changers. He had three sacks all of last year. Again, he has two in the last two games. He seems to only be getting love in Hamilton right now, while there’s an ocean of contempt for him from the other eight cities across the league. Somehow, Lawrence just backstrokes through it all. When they were both with the Riders, Chris Jones said he thought Duron Carter thrived on those dramatic situations that created noise around him. Lawrence seems to be doing the same here.