Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

In an offensive lineman's world, talking about kickers and what value they bring to a team is tantamount to blasphemy! After all, any real value a kicker brings should only be measured in whether or not they can be convinced to switch seat assignments on the plane to allow a teammate more elbow room.

There are exceptions to that rule of course and in this week's case, make one for Noel Prefontaine. The only kicker I know that if ever reincarnated, would come back as an O-lineman. Besides that, Pre is adept at card playing. As much as you loved the extra room, he's not the guy you want to be sitting next to on a three-hour flight if you want to hold on to any part of your per diem.

The Argos, in typical Boatman style, relied heavily on special teams and their veteran kicker to open up the 2011 campaign with a Canada Day victory.� The Boatmen, led by the incredibly mediocre Cleo Lemon, did just enough to hang around and give the 14-year veteran a shot at victory with just 22 ticks left on the clock. Hmmm.... Does that strategy sound familiar?

Calm, cool and collected, a stark contrast to his Calgary counterpart Rob Maver, he made no mistake. If� Pre's performance, going 3-for-3 and kicking the game-winning field goal was the 'Good' in an opening CFL weekend, then Maver going 1-for-4 was surely the 'Bad'. 'Ugly' may be a better description but in that department, Maver would be in good company.

Between Wally Buono's decision to kick a field goal with over a minute to go and his team down by seven or Kevin Glenn getting the hook in Steeltown after three picks, there seems to be enough 'ugly' to go around for all of them.

But ever the football optimist, I'd much rather light a candle than curse their darkness. After all, it is only Week 1 and I'd be more inclined to give a sophomore kicker a pass than give one to the the CFL's most winningest coach. I get it, sometimes nerves get the better of us. But in a game that is continuously asking the question "what have you done for me lately" and restless fans and the media always demanding an answer, goat horns are never that far away from the unemployment line. In all cases, redemption is only one week away and depending on the outcome, the Ugly mask can easily be slipped off.

How a player or a team responds to some adversity, always goes a long way in predicting any future success. In pro football, the choice is pretty clear; either get busy winning or get busy losing. For those players or Coaches that can't seem to make the right decision, don't worry.� Someone who earns a much bigger paycheque will always make it for you.

Success in pro sports is not rocket science. Every play, every game, every season has to have a winner and a loser. Your job as a player, coach or GM is to make sure you end up on the right side of that equation. After one week in the CFL, it's pretty clear who stands where.

Sandy Annunziata enjoyed an 11-year CFL career that culminated in back-to-back Grey Cup championships in 2004 and 2005. The former CFL All-Star will be writing for the 55-Yard Line on the league and everything Canadian about it. No stranger to covering the CFL before joining Yahoo! Sports Canada as an analyst for the Fan590 and Rogers Sportsnet, the former offensive lineman will take you beyond the field and inside the locker room as he examines the game, the health of the league, the business of sport and the sometimes fragile psyche of pro football players.

Bar Refaeli Jessica White Anna Friel Monica Bellucci Minki van der Westhuizen

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