Hamilton Tiger-Cats: Big Night, Big Guests
I was fortunate enough to be invited to a dinner banquet put on by the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in celebration of the accomplishments of various minor football teams in the area. Also honoured were the 2011 McMaster Marauders for their dramatic Vanier Cup victory over Laval Rouge et Or, in what some call “The Greatest Game Ever Played”. (See the article here: http://lastwordonsports.com/2011/11/29/the-greatest-game-ever-played/ )
The night began with a meet and greet in the lobby with many current and former Ti-Cats players. After some light fare and refreshments, we took our seats in the banquet room and awards were handed out. Meanwhile there was a silent auction with many great prizes, proceeds going to support minor football, allowing underprivileged kids the opportunity to play.
We were then introduced to the night’s guest and keynote speaker, TV personality and host of Off the Record, Michael Landsberg. Joining him on stage were the newly signed Henry Burris, Andy Fantuz, head coach George Cortez of the Ti-Cats and Stephan Ptaszek of the McMaster Marauders.
After some back and forth banter regarding such topics as the New Orleans Saints’ “bounty program” and the issue of fighting in hockey, Landsberg questioned WR Andy Fantuz. When asked why he chose Hamilton, Fantuz alluded to the great fans, which was reciprocated by QB Henry Burris when the same question was asked of him. Burris took it one step further by mentioning the atmosphere at Ivor Wynne when he has visited as an opponent.
The host also asked the other guests to ask a question of Fantuz. The Marauders coach wanted to know who the best wide receiver he every played with was. After some hesitation, he answered Roughriders WR Weston Drexler. Burris asked him who he looked up to when he was younger, with the WR answering “Andre Rison was my favourite receiver growing up.” Finally, his head coach, George Cortez, asked of him who the best Western Mustang (Fantuz’s alma mater) wide receiver was, to which he quickly answered that it was Dave Sapongis.
Also brought to the stage was Pete Dyakowski recently coined “Canada’s Smartest Person” by CBC. After a few jabs back and forth, and some calls for aid to Ti-Cats Centre, Marwan Hage, the host had Dyakowski snap the ball to Burris, who delivered a spiral to Fantuz, waiting some 15 yards across the room. Perhaps a sign of things to come. After a long off-season the fans are certainly getting ready to welcome back the Tiger-Cats.
In the closing remarks, it was announced that the Tiger-Cats are set to honour Willie Bethea and Bob Krouse on their Wall of Honour later this season.
What made the evening is how the Tiger-Cats have embraced the community, and how it in turn has embraced their Cats. Also, a lot of money was raised for a very good cause, and that can never be a bad thing.
…and that is the last word.