Dear Week Six,
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for easing my guilty conscience. You see, the five weeks that preceded you in the 2009 CFL regular season led me to believe that something I had done was having a negative impact on some of the league's top Canadian players.
It all goes back to June 28, the day that I named my ''Top Ten Canadians in the CFL.'' Honestly, Week Six, I have great disdain for such lists but the bosses thought it would be a good idea. Preferring not to be reassigned to cover billiards or poker, I agreed. Anyway, after I listed the Top Ten on TSN's CFL Season Preview show, one by one, things started to go awry for the members of this exclusive group. Here's what I mean.
• Before the season had even begun, Winnipeg defensive tackle Doug Brown (#9 on the preseason list) was diagnosed with meningitis. He suffered through debilitating headaches, lost weight and strength, and was forced to miss the Blue Bombers first two games while he recovered.
• In the first quarter of his Edmonton Eskimos debut, running back Jesse Lumsden (#4A) dislocated the same shoulder on which he had offseason surgery. He remains on the injured list.
• In Week Two, Edmonton's Calvin McCarty (#4B), who led all CFL running backs in catches a year ago, was curiously left on the bench in passing situations as ''receiving-challenged'' import Arkee Whitlock dropped two passes in the end zone and had a third bounce off his shoulder pads and get returned for a major by Montreal's Cory Huclack.
• B.C. slotback Paris Jackson (#5) had his best game of the season in Week Three but was later slapped with a fine for a touchdown celebration in which he removed his shoes and danced in the end zone. Jackson later explained that he was actually trying to generate some attention for Reebok, the CFL's official supplier of footwear and apparel.
• In Week Four, my fellow University of Western Ontario grad, Andy Fantuz (#7), suffered a pulled hamstring that forced him to sit out the next two games. Making matters worse for my fragile emotional state was the fact that one of the beneficiaries of Fantuz's injury has been Queen's product Rob Bagg. While I'm always happy to see new Canadian stars emerge, this particular situation has resulted in a flurry of trash talk from CFL on TSN's resident Queen's grads, Jock Climie and Chris Cuthbert.
• In Week Five, a disagreement at practice led to Calgary kicker Sandro DeAngelis (#6) getting punched in the face by his teammate and usual sidekick, Stampeder punter Burke Dales. As an aside, I can't help but wonder if having punched another kicker automatically makes Dales the favourite kicker of renowned kicker-hater Chris Schultz. Anyway, later that week, DeAngelis also missed his first field goal of the season.
While those players only seemed to be affected by isolated incidents, others felt the impact of my unintended curse for all five of the weeks that came before you.
• In terms of receptions and yardage, Edmonton's Kamau Peterson (#1), the CFL's Most Outstanding Canadian in 2008, was about 25% behind last year's pace, and he had yet to find the end zone.
• Brent Johnson (#2), who had accumulated more quarterback sacks than any player in the entire CFL over the previous five seasons, didn't even rank first in sacks among B.C. Lions defensive ends from the province of Ontario through the first five weeks of '09.
• Saskatchewan's Jason Clermont (#8), a two-time winner of the league's Most Outstanding Canadian award, wasn't even the Roughriders' most outstanding Canadian receiver from the University of Regina. That honour belonged to Chris Getzlaf, as Clermont found himself buried as the number six receiver on the Saskatchewan Roughriders depth chart.
Week Six, I'm sure you're familiar with the ''Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx,'' where an individual's on field performance drops off immediately after he or she appears on the front of the famous magazine. There's also the ''EA Sports Jinx,'' in which athletes experience any misfortune from a decline in production or a serious injury to legal or personal problems in the year that they appear on packaging for the popular video game series. If you haven't heard about them, you can Google either of these phenomena for details. Anyway, I was convinced that my Top Ten list had become the CFL's answer to these alleged curses. I tried to ease my mind by noting that nothing had gone wrong for the two Montreal Alouettes on the list, slotback Ben Cahoon (#3) and tackle Josh Bourke
(#10) but then it occurred to me that perhaps jinxes, like most contests in this country, don't include residents of the province of Quebec.
In any case, that's all irrelevant now, thanks to you, Week Six. I want to thank you for Kamau Peterson's first touchdown of 2009, Ben Cahoon surpassing 12 000 career receiving yards, Brent Johnson's three sacks to claim the Lions team lead, Paris Jackson's eight catches for 92 yards, Sandro DeAngelis' perfect 12-point night, and Doug Brown's seven tackle, two sack performance. Week Six, you were even thoughtful enough to include the injured Jesse Lumsden, who celebrated his twenty-seventh birthday during your glorious seven day span. Most of all, Week Six, I want to thank you for clearing my conscience... and restoring my credibility.
See you next year.