Finally, the day is upon us. The CFL’s “live mic” game makes a triumphant return to the land of the Edmonton Eskimos. The event will take place on Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton at 7:00 PM MDT on TSN.
Why is this game so special? Please allow me to take you on a journey back to Thanksgiving Day 2016 in Montreal. This would be the Eskimos inaugural “live mic” game. Unfortunately, this didn’t actually happen. The Eskimos decided to handle this event with about as much grace as a Mike Sherman headset removal.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. For those of you wondering what a “live mic” game is, I am more than happy to fill you in.
Live Mic Games
The CFL live mic game was introduced in 2016 in conjunction with broadcast partner TSN. The event is one in which the head coach and quarterback of both teams are wired with microphones for television purposes. The intention is to give the viewer at home additional insight and access to these CFL games. By adding these microphones, the viewer is able to listen into play calls and on-field communication which is then usually dispersed with some delightful expletives.
Thanksgiving Day 2016
Alright, now that you understand the live mic games, let me take you back to October 2016. Before the game between the Eskimos and the Montreal Alouettes, head coach Jason Maas and quarterback Mike Reilly decided not to participate.
Keep in mind, all other eight teams in the CFL honoured their commitment to adhere to the league mandate of participating in the “live mic” games. The Eskimos were the only ones who did not.
“We just decided between Mike (Reilly) and I not to do it and we’ll live with the consequences,” said Maas after the game.
And boy, were there consequences. The league fined the Eskimos $20,000 for failure to participate, while Maas was issued a $15,000 fine for his involvement. At the time, Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge had this to say about Maas’ involvement:
“The fact that coach Maas has expressed no remorse whatsoever for what appears to be a unilateral and planned act of defiance is particularly disappointing. I want to send a clear signal that this cannot happen again.”
And it didn’t happen again. Well, that is, until it did.
After fining the Eskimos and issuing a strong-worded statement, the league announced that the Eskimos must participate again. This time they would make up the live mic game on the last weekend of the regular season. Prior to the November game against the Argonauts, both Maas and Reilly were fitted with microphones.
The only issue was that the Eskimos had already clinched a playoff spot and of course, decided to rest some starters.
One of those starters was Mike Reilly who didn’t play a single snap. In a weird turn of events, his backup at the time and now the starting quarterback for the Argonauts was James Franklin. Franklin has actually seen more in-game live mic time than Reilly.
On top of Reilly not starting, Maas delegated his play-calling duties to other coaches during the game. When Maas did speak, he would cover his microphone with his hand. So once again, the league investigated this incident but decided there would be no additional discipline.
So tonight, the Eskimos will take another turn with the live mic’s. This season, the league has each team suiting up with microphones for four games apiece.
It will be interesting to see how Maas and the Eskimos handle their third installment of the live mic game. Will the Esks handle it well and abide by the agreement, or are we about to go down another long and winding road of controversy?
Whatever the answer is, I can’t wait for this one. Get your popcorn ready, it should be a lot of fun!
Main image credit:
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