TORONTO – As a 16-year-old teenager preparing to begin my senior of high school, I did not have the good fortune of witnessing the triumphant victory of the 1983 Toronto Argonauts, and not to mention, the once in a lifetime celebration that came along with that.
For myself, however, growing up in a crazed Toronto sports culture that has been deprived of championship glory for over two decades, I, like many others, had lost hope.
With the Toronto Maple Leafs and their infamous 45-year Stanley Cup drought accompanied by the Toronto Blue Jays and their two-decade dry spell, it can be difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
And yet, despite all of that, I have been a Toronto sports fan ever since I was a young child. Although I have never witnessed a Stanley Cup parade or the glory days of the Blue Jays, I continue to support these teams because of the meaning that they have to me.
As former Argonaut hall of fame offensive lineman Dan Ferrone says, “Teams are like family.” It is the sense of pride and unity that brings each and every one of us together in a positive manner, and when we do win, it feels as though we truly deserve it.
As the final seconds ticked down off the Rogers Centre play clock during that chilly November evening in 2012, the scoreboard reading 35-22 in favour of the hometown Argonauts, I was delighted to see a whole city rallying around their team and making this monumental occasion truly one to remember.
While I listen to fans recollect about their favourite memories of the 1983 Toronto Argonauts and moments that are indelible to them – although I truly enjoy seeing the passion fans have for that team 30 years later – it is similar to how the 2012 100th Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts will always hold a special place in my heart.
With the weight of nearly 20 years of professional sports disappointment solely on their shoulders, the 2012 Argonauts not only renewed the passion of Canadian football in this city but also provided Torontonians with an overwhelming sense of pride, demonstrating that when placed under the spotlight, we can and we will live up to the expectations of winning a championship on our home turf.
Again, I was not fortunate enough to have the opportunity to watch the likes of Condredge Holloway, Terry Greer, Jan Carinci, Dan Ferrone, Carl Brazley, or even more modern day stars such as Matt Dunigan, Michael “Pinball” Clemons, Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, and Doug Flutie.
For me, the 2012 Toronto Argonauts are my football heroes and legends. Witnessing The Flyin’ Chad Owens reel off three consecutive 3,000-yard seasons, watching future hall of fame quarterback Ricky Ray supplant himself amongst the all-time greats with his third Grey Cup win, and not to overlook the incredible accomplishments of Scott Milanovich as a rookie head coach, capturing Coach of the Year honours and guiding the good ship Argonaut back to relevancy. Those are moments that I will certainly never forget. As we prepare to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the 1983 Grey Cup Champions on Friday night, I cannot only appreciate the tremendous history of this franchise but I can truly relate to it because I have finally experienced it myself.
Thirty years is definitely a long time, but I am almost certain that three decades from now, the 2012 Toronto Argonauts will be remembered for generating renewed optimism in a city that over the past couple of decades with regards to professional sports has always been viewed as an afterthought and has never been taken seriously.
Fact is, we no longer need to look to the past as a form of celebration, but rather, we can look at what is right in front of us as the 2013 Toronto Argonauts attempt to capture back-to-back Grey Cup titles.