After working the Toronto Argonauts game this week, a game in which the Argos thoroughly dominated the Saskatchewan Roughriders and looked like the team that finished first in the East last season, I drove to the airport to try to catch an early flight home. A fully booked flight forced me to leave two hours later.
After a nice meal in which I studied the stats of the Argo win, I prepared to leave the restaurant. As I was gathering my things to leave many large individuals began to walk up and wait for tables. These men were dressed up and looked tired and as I looked closer I recognized that these were the Roughriders.
They had arrived at the airport awaiting their flight home. One thing the average fan doesn't know is that you intentionally have to book the teams on later flights in case games go into overtime. Sometimes the team will be at the airport and a flight to their city leaves and they are still booked on a later flight.
I had a chance to have conversations with many of them and this is certainly one of the things I miss most about coaching - the relationships with the players and other coaches. I had a good talk with Brendon LaBatte about life with children and how his part-time racing career is going. He tended to focus on how he can improve from the game a few hours before. I loved talking to the Riders' offensive line coach Doug Mallone about how his team will improve next week; that it is never been easy to win in Toronto.
Scott McHenry and Neil Hughes, both players that I was fortunate to work with in my time coaching, waited for a table and reflected on the game. They summed it up nicely that a lot work needs to be done for next week. It's been a while since I talked to Chris Best, a very underrated offensive lineman for the Riders, so it was great to check in on his recently married life.
I went by the Regina gate because I knew that's where the coaches would be sitting. I guarantee you fans truly don't appreciate and understand how hard the coaches work to put a winning product on the field. Rookies Avon Cobourne looking dapper in a green sports coat and Ray Williams were talking about how much they enjoy their new roles. Avon is the RBs coach and Ray is helping in the personnel department. Both players had great careers in the league and showed a tremendous passion for the game. Both men talked about how they didn't know how hard coaching was and how different it is then playing. They talked about how frustrating it is for them during the game that they can't help what's happening on the field, that it's up to the players to make the plays.
I'm sure those two individuals will be very successful.
I saw several Rider coaches already watching the game on their laptops to grade the video. Coaches are always trying to steal time whenever possible to get ahead because the work week is daunting. The technology has improved dramatically because the video department can get the coaches the game film on their laptop or their Ipad.
Just five years ago you would've had to wait until you got home to see the game. They will try to have it finished by the time they get home.
2013 CFL Coach of the Year Corey Chamblin was sitting by himself right in front of the gate collecting his thoughts. As a former CFL head coach I can tell you after a loss you are thinking about everything that went wrong and how you can fix it. No one feels the losses as much as the head coach, and I'm sure Corey will have the boys ready to go next week.
As I headed to the gate, more sightings; CFL officials Richie Miller and Jim Carlisle who were also heading back to Winnipeg. Our flight was slightly delayed, most people blamed Richie and Jim for the delay. Such is the life of a CFL official.
The one thing I can give insight into is the feelings after a game. The Argos, after a very difficult week, are in great spirits until the next game. The Riders will go back to work frustrated after a difficult loss. The loss always stings for the fans for a day, but for players and coaches it stays until you win again.
As I was heading to my gate, I spoke to Rob Bagg, one of my all time favourite guys to coach. "Get back to work, your weren't going to win all 18 games anyway. I am the only CFL person who will not lose a game this year."