Over the weekend, I realized something that kind of surprised me. I like watching the Canadian Football League. A lot.
In the past, I’ve watched a few CFL games. When I was growing up, my brother knew a guy who played for the British Columbia Lions, so their games were broadcast on the local stations. I watched a few games, but didn’t remember much about it. I’ve also watched the odd game in August before the NFL season starts, but haven’t really paid much attention to the games.
On Sunday, for some reason, I decided to watch the Grey Cup, Canada’s version of the Super Bowl. It featured the Toronto Argonauts and the Calgary Stampede. I didn’t know what to expect watching, and things kind of started off on a sour note. I tuned in just in time to see the pregame performance of “O Canada.” It was sung by Burton Cummings (I had no idea who he was at first; turns out he was in the ’70s rock band The Guess Who). Cummings was situated about at midfield, sitting down at a cheesy-looking electric keyboard. His rendition of “O Canada” seemed like something out of an ’80s movie.
Once that was out of the way, the game started. The 100th Grey Cup was held in Toronto at the Rogers Center. One of the first things I noticed was how loud the home fans were. It was kind of cool to see the championship game played out on one of the teams’ home field. There’s never been an NFL team who played in the Super Bowl in its own stadium.
Aside from the crowd and stadium, I really enjoyed the pace of play in the CFL. There are only three downs in Canadian Football, so it’s primarily a passing league, which is exciting to watch. It was fun to see the quarterback drop back and attempt a 50-yard bomb on first down.
I also thought the game moved faster. It didn’t seem as start-and-stop as the NFL does and seemed to have a nice flow to the game.
Another thing that was cool about watching the game was seeing some former Big Sky players in the game. Eastern Washington University graduate Bo Levi Mitchell got some playing time for Calgary and threw a touchdown pass late in the game.
The game itself was pretty one-sided, with Toronto 35-22. Toronto controlled much of the game and scored three first-half touchdowns to take control of the game and never really looked back.
At the half, the Argonauts held a 24-6 lead and were well in control. During the half, Justin Bieber performed and drew some boos from the Canadian crowd.
The second half of the game was pretty exciting, Calgary tried to mount a comeback, but fell short in the end.
Overall, I really enjoyed watching the Grey Cup. I was also surprised by how many of my friends on Twitter were watching the game as well. A handful of people were tweeting about the game.
I have watched a few CFL games in the past, but this was the first time in a while and the first time that I’d really paid attention to the gameplay. I wouldn’t mind watching more games next year, at least for the first few months before the NFL starts.
I don’t think I’ll abandon the NFL for the Canadian equivalent, but it was a fun watch, and I enjoyed seeing a lot of deep passes and a quick-moving game. Also, I’m not going to lie — it was kind of fun seeing Bieber get booed.