Tim Baines, PostMedia
As I stare down my soon-to-happen 60th birthday, I’ve got some football memories on my mind – taken from what I’ve seen from the Ottawa Redblacks through their six years on the field … and beyond.
My criteria was very loose – it was not necessarily any one play, but more moments that have stuck with me.
Here’s a quick Top 5:
5. The Turnaround, 2015. Maybe it didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time and maybe it wasn’t a single moment. But a few free agency bull’s-eyes in the team’s second season would turn its fortunes around. The team went from a 2-16 regular-season record to 12-6, largely because of some brilliant work by the football operations department. On Feb. 10, the Redblacks signed receiver Ernest Jackson. The next day, receivers Greg Ellingson and Brad SInopoli and offensive lineman SirVincent Rogers – all huge contributors – would sign. Two months later, speedy receiver Chris Williams was added to the mix.
4. Home Sweet Home, 2014. After losing two road games to open their expansion season, in their home-opener the Redblacks shocked the Toronto Argos 18-17 when Brett Maher booted a 23-yard field goal, his sixth of the game, with 28 seconds left. Remember that original Redblacks team? Chevon Walker was the running back. Receivers included Kierrie Johnson, Marcus Henry, Dobson Collins, Matt Carter and Carlton Mitchell.
3. The CFL is Back, 2008. OK, none of this happens without this date. On March 25, the CFL awarded Ottawa a conditional franchise. The ownership group consisted of local businessmen John Ruddy, Bill Shenkman, Roger Greenberg and Jeff Hunt.
2. The Catch, 2015. Facing an improbable second-and-25 situation deep in his team’s own end, QB Henry Burris batted a high snap into the air and pulled the ball in. The veteran quarterback reached back and launched the ball downfield. Greg Ellingson caught the ball near midfield, a Hamilton defender fell down and the receiver galloped into the end zone with 1:11 left. With a 35-28 win over the Ticats, the Redblacks advanced to the Grey Cup in just their second season.
1. The Catch Part II, 2016. Once, twice, three times the ball bounced off Ernest Jackson’s hands and into the air. The sure-handed receiver then clamped down on the ball and it was a Grey Cup-winning 18-yard touchdown pass from Henry Burris. Burris, then 41, was the hero, almost miraculously – on one good leg- leading his team to a 39-33 win over Calgary, completing 35-of-46 passes for 461 yards. He threw for three touchdowns and rushed for two more. There was doubt as to whether he’d even play after a knee injury flared up in warmups. It was the first Grey Cup for an Ottawa CFL team in 40 years.