announced their plans for the Final Season at Ivor Wynne Stadium almost two weeks ago, the part that I found the most interesting was how us fans will have a chance throughout the season to select players for an all-time Tiger-Cat team that will be unveiled during the final game on October 27th.
A couple of things popped into my head when it was announced. The first thing was that this is not going to be easy. Fans are going to have to narrow the field from 122 players down to 28. That means a lot of excellent players are going to be left off. Just look at receiver, for example. I count no less than seven guys – Hal Patterson, Garney Henley, Tommy Grant, Tommy Joe Coffey, Tony Champion, Earl Winfield and Darren Flutie – that could easily make the team (some might wonder my Tony Gabriel's name is missing, but I think he's more synonymous with the Ottawa Rough Riders than the Ti-Cats). Try and tell me which one of those players doesn't deserve to be on the team. They all do, but there is no way that all seven of them will get selected.
That brings me to the second thing that popped into my head: how will the team be comprised? With 28 spots for the taking, I imagine that 12 will go to offensive starters, 12 to defensive starters, one to Paul Osbaldiston (we all know he's the choice and kicker) and one to a kick returner (this could be where Winfield makes the team, taking him away from the receiver category). That is 26 total, which leaves two more spots. Could punter be one? Maybe coach? We won't know until the ballot is released at some point in June.
Perhaps the coolest thing that will happen during all this is that fans will get to become familiar with players from the past. I didn't take in my first Tiger-Cat game until the late 1980s, so there are plenty of players from the glory days that I never got to see play. Fans younger than I who didn't get to appreciate the players that drew me to the game, the Tony Champions and Earl Winfields, will not become fully aware of how great these players were. Picking the team will be a history lesson for some and nostalgia for others.
And, of course, there are the inevitable debates that are bound to spring up. Is it Danny McManus or Bernie Faloney at quarterback? Gerry McDougall or Troy Davis at running back? If coaches are involved, is it Ron Lancaster or Ralph Sazio or Al Bruno? That's what I mean when I say this is going to be no easy task. Find a reason for one, and someone will counter with two for another. Counter those two with two of your own and those will be counter with three more. Around and around it will go. The debates could end up being the most entertaining part about this whole process.
But regardless of who gets selected, I hope everyone has fun with it. In the end, there are no right or wrong answers. We are being tasked with picking the best of the best, which means there truly are no incorrect answers. Fans of all stripes (no pun intended) will not only get to debate who they think belongs, but also take a stroll down memory lane. Since celebrating the past seems to be the theme for this season, having the fans select an all-time team is a great idea.