Labour Day is approaching. Let’s all just take a deep breath and calm down. Listening to some pundits and fans across the league this week, you would swear the sky is falling in some CFL cities.
For example, in Edmonton, some fans are saying that M.O.P. candidate quarterback Mike Reilly isn’t doing enough. Those folks have added that the Eskimos defence is atrocious and there is no chance they beat Calgary this weekend. In Winnipeg, starting quarterback Matt Nichols and defensive coordinator Richie Hall are public enemies one and two, and in B.C. the season is lost after starting 3-6.
If you have been following the league for any amount of time, you would know that absolutely anything is possible. In fact, there is an old CFL mantra that suggests the real season doesn’t start until Labour Day. Well, guess what, here we are and it’s about to get good.
The Second Season Starts Now
Ah yes, Labour Day in the CFL. A time in the Canadian football season that signals the end of summer and welcomes in the vibrant colours of changing leaves and crisp cooler temperatures. Perfect football weather in Canada and there’s absolutely nothing like it.
It also signals the start of the unofficial second season of the Canadian Football League. A time for teams to take stock of the first half of their season, and to understand what needs to happen the rest of the way in order to be in the big game come November.
There is still a long way to go in the CFL season, and quite literally anything can happen. And if recent history has taught us anything – major moves happen more often than not in the second season.
A Recent History Lesson
One of the great things about the CFL is that the league is just nine teams. Even when a team has a tough start to the first half of the year, they aren’t necessarily out of playoff contention.
One doesn’t have to go too far back in the history books to find examples of a team turning a corner around Labour Day to find success. Here are some recent examples.
In 2014, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats began their season with a 2-7 record. However, on Labour Day they were able to squeak out a 13-12 victory over the Toronto Argonauts. This was the beginning of a hot streak for Hamilton who finished their season with a 9-3 record including playoffs. Ultimately they would lose the Grey Cup game to the Stampeders, but it is still a good example of what can happen after Labour Day.
A similar story took place the following year in 2015. The Ottawa Redblacks began the season at 5-4, then went 7-2 in the back half of the year only to lose in the Grey Cup game.
Perhaps the best example of what can happen after Labour Day came last year. The Toronto Argonauts headed into the first week of September with a 4-6 record. The Argos ended up losing the Labour Day game to the Tiger-Cats 24-22 in heartbreaking fashion. However, after this game, the Argonauts put together a 7-2 run including a thrilling 27-24 Grey Cup victory over the heavy-favourited Calgary Stampeders.
A League Where Anything Is Possible
As Labour Day quickly approaches, one look at the CFL standings and it would be easy to assume which teams make and miss the playoffs. However, what is true about the CFL is that anything is possible this time of year.
After Montreal’s big win last week, B.C playing competitive football, and the Argonauts virtually in the same spot they were last year, we could be in for a wild finish to this football season. And as for the fans of teams that are currently in playoff positions, again I would say relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy the rest of the way.
Anything can happen in the CFL and it so often does.
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