Grey Cup Champions. Toronto takes home Cup #17 in 2017.
Speechless. That was my reaction when Matt Black intercepted the Bo Levi Mitchell throw in the end zone to win the 2017 Grey Cup.
The Toronto Argonauts just won their league leading 17th Grey Cup and I was left with my jaw dropped.
Last week the Argos had their day in the sun and took full advantage. This week it would be in the snow and they were just as advantageous.
The game and outcome changed so quickly on Sunday I almost didn’t believe what I just saw.
For some strange reason I instantly started replaying the entire season in my head. I’m not sure why I just didn’t spend more time enjoying the moment.
I remembered predicting a 9 and 9 season for the Double Blue but that the finals would be a rematch of the 2016 Grey Cup. Who would win? I picked Calgary over Ottawa.
It just made sense. I mean Toronto went into free agency without a GM or Coach. When Jim Popp and Marc Trestman finally did come aboard it was March and they still needed to assemble a coaching staff and a playbook.
In reality they did more than that. They developed a culture. With insurmountable odds that were constantly thrown in their face Jim Popp and Marc Trestman stressed the often over used but extremely relevant cliché of one day at a time.
All they could is take what was given and work with it. And oh did they ever. This year could easily have been labelled a rebuild and nobody would have complained. But this is the CFL where anything and everything can not only happen but often does.
So once Popp and Trestman got the keys to their office in came names like James Wilder Jr., Cleyon Laing, Marcus Ball, Bear Wood, Cassius Vaughan and SJ Green.
Of course there were others and we can’t forget the players who committed to the team when it looked like the organization was in disarray. Players like Tyler Homes, Anthony Coombs and Chris Van Zyle decided to see this through when nobody would have blamed them if they took their talents elsewhere.
Having Marcus Brady return as the offensive coordinator was a huge factor in getting the offense, and most importantly Ricky Ray ready for 2017. Ray already knew the offense and knew it was designed almost specifically for his skill set particularly at age 38.
Cory Chamblin revamped the defensive side of the ball. And with guys like Marcus Ball and Bear Woods joining the team Chamblin knew he had an all business group of leaders willing and eager to pass on his message.
The season wasn’t sexy at all. As I predicted the team would finish 9-9. They were workman like. Sometimes they won ugly, other times they looked impressive. Sometimes they lost having left it all on the field and sometimes they were completely over matched.
But the temperament of the team and as a result the players never changed. It was always just getting back to work and taking it 1 day at a time.
That mind set was on full display Sunday. Underdogs all week Toronto never listened to any of the critics or so called experts. All they did was go to work.
I think they knew themselves that a CFL game is different and the Grey Cup only highlights that.
There would be 2 individual plays resulting in over 100 yards. That’s a record. Both were huge and timely. The Vaughan fumble recovery changed the game. But so many plays did.
I honestly thought Toronto didn’t do all that well in the trenches. The O-line was struggling and as a result James Wilder Jr couldn’t get off. If you told me that he would gain 13 yards on 9 carries and that Toronto would win I’d say you were nuts.
Calgary looked good for most of the game and maybe was the better team for 57 minutes.
Their ability to execute on 2nd down drove me nuts.
Their ability to answer an Argonaut touchdown drive with one of their own had me thinking that maybe this wasn’t going to be our day.
But just like Trestman said all season long, one day at a time, one play at a time and the Argos just kept chugging along.
They didn’t turn the ball over and Calgary did so twice. Win the turn over battle and you win the game.
Like last week Ray marched his team down the field with precise execution for a game leading field goal. Just like last week there was just enough strength in that 38 year old arm to execute sideline throws to SJ Green and Devier Posey.
Of course up by 3 I wondered if Toronto left too much time on the clock. But Matt Black put that question to bed. The Canadian half back who was released earlier in the season only to return shortly after made the biggest play of his life.
Nobody deserved it more except for the fact that everybody deserved it. The team bought in from day 1 and never doubted their ability.
After the game there was talk of love, and family and respect. These so called gladiators playing a tough game showed just what emotion can mean to a team. An emotion that derived from the culture that both Popp and Trestman stressed on their first day on the job.
The biggest question in the champagne filled locker room quickly turned to Ricky Ray and his future. His contract is up and he now has the opportunity to walk away a champion. Is there a better way to go?
Whatever he decides he’s earned the time to do so. I’m sure he’ll reflect on this season and just take the off season one day at time.
As the Argos proved this season, that’s the way to do it.
Follow Anthony @comicanthony
Culmination beyond expectation – what a wild ride and win!