Everyone was standing. Had to be about 46,000 people.
At least that was how it looked from my seat at the 35-yard-line, just nine rows behind the Montreal Alouettes bench. It seemed as if the entire fourth quarter had been played directly in front of me. Everything the Als did right, seemed to happen in that area of the field.
And now, Damon Duval was ready to make contact with the football on the Riders 43-yard-line. I chose to look toward the uprights, to watch the reaction of Jason Armstead, figuring he would only field the football if the kick was wide. But, before the ball even got airborne, I saw the two officials beneath the uprights reach for their flags and let them fly, almost at the same time.
I've seen enough football to know that any flag thrown in that area has absolutely nothing to do with an infraction committed by the kicking team. And so, while some among the Roughrider faithfull began their celebration, I stood with my arms crossed, awaiting the inevitable, impending doom. Indeed, less than two minutes later and after the most bizarre penalty call I could ever imagine, Duval punched the pigskin through the uprights from 33 yards.
The jolt I felt made me feel for a second as though Duval's foot had actually made contact with my testicles. I was on my way out of McMahon Stadium immediately. Stunned. Just totally stunned. I still am, even though I've slept twice since the game ended.
Here are a few other thoughts from Grey Cup weekend, a celebration that meant about $50-million tourist dollars for the city of Calgary:
1. Rider Nation - Part One: I have never liked when other sports fans or the media refer to us as "the best fans". I dislike the arrogance associated with any such notion. However, "loyal" is a term I can live with. Perhaps "fiercely loyal" would be more accurate. My loyalty to the football club is as deeply-rooted today as it was yesterday, the day before, and the day before that.
2. The Statistics Tell The Story: The CFL released information during Grey Cup week that indicates 38% of league merchandise purchased involves the Saskatchewan Roughriders brand. I have to ask, what are the other seven teams not doing right?
3. Rider Nation - Part Two: There are some real boneheads who masquerade as Rider fans. I have no qualms with those who choose to stick a watermelon on their, er, melon, but I have no patience and no tolerance for the punks who seem to see a Rider game solely as a reason to get incoherently drunk. The resulting behaviour pisses me off because it demonstrates "Zero Pride", not Rider Pride.
4. My First "Trooper" Concert: Saturday night at "Riderville" in the Telus Convention Centre, Trooper took the stage sometime between my first and last Pilsner. A great bar band for those of us who remember these Canadian rockers from yesteryear.
5. Riderville: Over 2,200 people dressed in a variety of green and white Saskatchewan Roughrider shirts, jerseys, shoes, pants and hats. What a party! Everyone there for the same reason, enjoying each other's company. There is a comaraderie in a room like that, a wonderful feeling that words cannot describe.
6. Montreal 28, Saskatchewan 27: This is excruciating, the worst feeling I have ever experienced at a sporting event in my life. But one has to wonder what it must have been like to watch that game as a supporter of the Alouettes. Had the Riders won on that missed field goal, future hall-of-famers Anthony Calvillo and Canadian receiver Ben Cahoon would be saddled with the residue of a 1-6 record in championship games during the past decade. And Damon Duval, with two shanked punts and that missed field goal would have been beside himself with dejection.
7. A Happy Birthday: Celebrated my 47th birthday at the Grey Cup game on Sunday. Other than the company of a couple great friends and a few free cans of Canadian, the gift I really wanted never did materialze.
8. The Perspective I'll Cling To: Many have heard me ask the question, "would you rather your team win ugly or lose ugly?" Well, I've seen both sides of it, live and in living color! In 2007 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, we won ugly. On Sunday, well, you know...