It's incredible how quickly things can change.
In 2016, the Toronto Argonauts sported much that was new: a new stadium, new tailgating events, a new more intimate atmosphere in the stands — and a new marketing attitude, headlined with the slogan, “This is Argos football.” Yet, one thing was clearly not that new: the dreadful team on the field.
In essence, it was a rotting husk of the 2012 Grey Cup team. Some key components were still there: Ricky Ray, Ricky Foley, Scott Milanovich and a few others, but names such as Chad Owens, Zach Collaros and Trevor Harris were allowed to flee without much of a fight. Outside of Ray and Shawn Lemon, there wasn’t much name recognition and star power in the 2016 squad.
Fortunately, the new leadership team — with coach Marc Trestman and general manager Jim Popp steering the ship — has given Double Blue fans new hope. Toronto — which last year purged its entire receiving corps in one misguided moment — has signed a slew of new catching talent, including Jeff Fuller, and S.J. Green, the human highlight machine. If you haven’t seen Green’s catch against Saskatchewan on Canada Day, look it up right now. The man is the real deal and a star-studded CFL name.
The defence has also been shored up. Trestman has recruited former Al and Chicago Bear Winston Venable, who played for Trestman in The Windy City before going to la belle province. The Boatmen have also added former Winnipeg Blue Bomber and Hamilton Tiger-Cat Johnny Sears Jr. to the secondary, and long-time Alouettes defensive tackle Alan-Michael Cash, a 2014 East Division all-star. And let’s not forget the return of Canadian DT Cleyon Laing, from the Miami Dolphins via the Ottawa RedBlacks.
Alouettes fans certainly have seen this show before. A unit masterminded by Trestman and Popp, starring monsters such as Green and Venable and quarterbacked by an aging, but legendary quarterback. The narrative is all too familiar. And the best news? This storyline previously ended happily ever after, with Grey Cup victories.
It took a year, but the new and improved BMO digs will finally house a new and improved team. How new exactly, and how improved, remains to be seen. But for now, hope lives.
Image: Marc Trestman and Jim Popp outside the Argos locker room
Image Source: CFL.ca