Like us, the ancient Romans celebrated the new year on January 1st, which they called the Kalends of January or Iani Kalendai. Central to their celebrations was paying respect to the two-faced god Janus who was lord of this day. Part of the tradition around Janus and the change of year was that he looked both ways – both backwards and forwards. CFL fans are no different in that respect. Over the holiday season we have looked back fondly at an enjoyable 2017 season and are already looking forward to another exciting season in 2018.
January is named after Janus who was the god of beginnings and ends and his name means “gate” or “door”. In times of war the gates of the temple of Janus were kept open and in peacetime they were barred. Would they be barred now for the CFL? It’s hard to say – whilst no action is taking place on the fields around the league, teams are still in constant competition and trying to evolve their squads and coaching staff to be the best ready for the next season.
As the end of any year approaches there tends to be a reflection – and around the CFL that was no different. CFL.ca were certainly in reflective mood at the end of December (https://www.cfl.ca/2017/12/30/duron-carter-named-cfl-cas-newsmaker-2017/ ) having their writers name a variety of year-end mentions for seven categories: Newsmaker, Person, Story, Comeback, One-Game Performance, Game and Canadian.
The winners were:
Newsmaker : Duron Carter – WR Saskatchewan Roughriders. Not all that surprising as Duron was in the news for on the field and off the field exploits for much of the season. I asked CFL fans on twitter during the MOP vote who they thought the Most Fun Player wold be if the league handed out such an award – and the responses I got overwhelmingly favoured Carter. He has certainly made an impact!
Person: Ricky Ray – QB Toronto Argonauts. Following on from some injury affected seasons, Argos fans were worried about Ray’s durability to start the year. In the end he threw for over 5000 yards and led Toronto to the Grey Cup.
Story: Stamps upset in Grey Cup – again. After going 15-3 and winning the Grey Cup in 2014 the Stamps looked set. Since then they have gone 42-10-2 in the regular season but failed to lift the title despite being the best regular season team each year. Compounding this is the fact they lost in the final in upsets in 2016 & 2017 to teams that on paper they looked better than.
Comeback player: SJ Green – WR Toronto Argonauts. The season before, Green had knee surgery and missed playing time. the question was, post knee op would he still be able to compete? 1,462 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2017 and the answer was a resounding yes.
One-Game Performance: Ed Gainey – DB Saskatchewan Roughriders. Five-takeaway game – in Week 8, against the BC Lions, Gainey recorded four interceptions and a fumble recovery with the four interceptions being a franchise record, and the most in a CFL game since 1986.
Game: The 105th Grey Cup. The snowglobe game looked picture perfect and had everything, from a David v Goliath match-up to two 100-plus-yard touchdowns, and a game only decided at the death.
Canadian: Andrew Harris – RB Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Harris finished with 1,892 yards from scrimmage and for a while chased the chance to be the first player in CFL history to reach 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season.
The Romans would have been satisfied. We have looked back at the year before. Another key to the Iani Kalendai was to offer sweet gifts, such as honey or sweetened figs to represent bounty and a sweet year to come, as well as to look forward with optimism to the year ahead. The Romans felt this set the toe for the whole year. Well CFL fans are certainly looking ahead now as we are into 2018 the year the next season kicks off, and the CFL gave the sweet gift of an early schedule release and the prospect of pre- season football in May.
So let’s enjoy the reflection, look forward with optimism – whatever team you support, and ask ourselves the slightly differently phrased annual call of CFL fans everywhere – ‘Is it May yet?’.