STREAMING CFL PPV GREY CUP: Toronto Argonauts va Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Nov. 21, 00:00 CET (12 midnight, 6 pm ET, Nov. 20)

By Don Landry

It’s here again, Canada. The big game, with a shining history, adored by legions of faithful fans.

And two linebackers, from two very different places, are just the right guys to paint a pretty picture about the meaning of the Grey Cup game.

You might not think that eloquently expressing the loft of the occasion could be entrusted to a couple of smash-mouth tacklers, but believe me when I tell you that Mike O’Shea and Henoc Muamba can do it and they can do it well.

“I probably don’t speak in those kinds of words,” said O’Shea, greatly underestimating himself when asked to access his inner poet in order to talk about what the spectacle means to him, to players and to a nation.

O’Shea, the hall of fame linebacker who is in search of his seventh championship as both a player and a coach when his Winnipeg Blue Bombers take on the Toronto Argonauts in the 109th Grey Cup, ended up speaking in exactly those kinds of words.

“When you see the pictures of the previous champions hoisting the Cup and it’s got a base on it that’s only this big,” O’Shea began, holding his fingers a few inches apart, “and they’re drinking out of that same cup — that if you’re good enough that day you’ll get a chance to drink out of it — there’s something about sharing that same passion, vision, desire, goal, as guys did 109 years ago.

“I can’t escape that feeling,” he said. “I don’t know if everybody gets it or not but I can’t possibly escape that. It’s pretty powerful.”

109th Grey Cup
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Whether O’Shea knows it or not, that’s some pretty good poetry right there.

Muamba might understand a little something about that, even if his quest for this year’s Grey Cup is different from O’Shea’s. The Toronto linebacker, in many ways the beating heart and the dutiful conscience of his team, has never won the Grey Cup. In fact, he’s only previously gotten to the game once before, when he was a rookie with the Blue Bombers in 2011.

“It’s an honour,” said the 10-year veteran of his participation in this year’s game. “It’s a gift.”

Muamba has attended many Grey Cups since his first appearance, but “it’s different when you’re here to play the game and have a chance to win it.”

“There’s no other week that’s comparable to this one.”

There are contrasts between O’Shea and Muamba; the coach is a North Bay, Ont. native who was born into a love for Canadian football and the CFL. Muamba, instead, adopted it after arriving from the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a child. Muamba is famously loquacious and engaging. O’Shea is equally as engaging, I would argue, but less likely to be the one who welcomes the presence of a microphone under his chin.

Opposing forces at game time, the two of them are in harmony when it comes to what Grey Cup Sunday means to players, to fans and to a nation.

“The Grey Cup, to me, is an experience,” said Muamba. “You don’t come to just watch a game. You come to share time, spend time with people. It unifies people. You create memories. And that’s what the Grey Cup means to me, in a few words.

“There’s no other week that’s like this in the football season.”

As O’Shea’s Blue Bombers and Muamba’s Argos head into battle, they do so with starkly different narratives.

For the Bombers, a team that personifies to a tee the procedural work ethic of their head coach, this game can indelibly stamp them with the word “dynasty,” if they win it, marking what would be their third consecutive victory, coming off a franchise-best 15 regular season wins. Three cups in a line would be rarefied air not seen since Edmonton’s domination in the late 1970’s and early ’80’s.

For the Argos, it can be a signature victory, too, only one of a different stripe. One that would leave no room for the skeptics to doubt the championship pedigree that exists, just below the surface, in them.
And perhaps a touchstone that can springboard the club into a position of year-in and year-out consistency as opposed to the boom and bust cycles that have been their hallmark these last two decades.

Watch the game live here PPV. Toronto Argonauts va Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Nov. 21, 00:00 CET (12 midnight, 6 pm ET, Nov. 20)

On the field, the match-ups are intriguing, the storylines almost endless. The Argos are decided underdogs, and judging by the comments of head coach Ryan Dinwiddie this week, a team with a little bit of an axe to grind. “It’s kind’ve who we’ve been all year,” said Dinwiddie of that underdog tag. “When we win, no one gives us credit. ‘It was an ugly win.’

“When we lose they want to bury us.”

The Blue Bombers have no critics to convince. The only thing they have to lose is their well-earned crown but that seems to be enough motivation for them. They enjoy winning and see no reason why that shouldn’t just go on and on. All they have to do is adhere to the rigid principles that have brought them all this success. Just ask them. To a man, they quote the same passages from the same book; the book of winning football games.

“We’re focused on what we always focus on,” said Winnipeg linebacker Adam Bighill. “The details of playing the best game that we can. Trying to play the perfect game. Those are the things that are going to allow us to be successful.”

The storylines for this game are many, topped by the drama of running back Andrew Harris going up against his former team, a team with which he won two Grey Cups before he and the Bombers agreed to disagree on his future.

But there’s more.

Can the Argos possibly shut down the Winnipeg offence, with sensational rookie of the year Dalton Schoen keying that big play passing attack? Is Toronto’s own big play, turnover-hungry defence ready to shock the champions?

Whose running game will rule the day? It might be Toronto’s, with a motivated Harris and determined A.J. Ouellette as threats to carry or catch the ball at any time. Or it might be Winnipeg’s, with thousand-yard rusher Brady Oliveira proving that the Bombers could indeed thrive on the ground without Harris.

The line of scrimmage, as usual, will see some fascinating clashes.
Toronto’s surging offensive line showed up large in an Eastern Final win over Montreal. Can they win battles with Winnipeg’s ferocious front four, led by imposing stars like Willie Jefferson and Jackson Jeffcoat?

Is Toronto quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson bound for the most glorious performance of his career? Or the most frustrating?

And, oh, one more thing: What about Zach Collaros’ ankle? Is the Winnipeg quarterback, the league’s Most Outstanding Player for a second year in a row, really fit to play, and play at his usual level?

These are the nuts and bolts of the game itself, the points of contention where dominance will be clarified and a winner declared and the results will add to the lore and the magic of something that can annually bring adults to tears of heartbreak, but also of joy.

This is a week and a game that have burrowed deep into the psyche of a nation over decades of tales of athletic exploits and of dear friends reunited in a kaleidoscope of hugging team colours, pints raised in celebration of a common love. CFL family.

“Grey Cup is amazing,” said Muamba. “The events are tremendous. It’s not just a game. It’s an experience.”

“It’s a great Canadian sporting event that people celebrate from coast to coast and have a great time doing it,” said O’Shea. “They create a lot of memories while they’re watching games and celebrating. You need more of that, I think.”

O’Shea paused, and then buttoned his comments with a bit of a smile. “I love our league,” the linebacker from North Bay said. “It’s the best league in the world.”

“I’m a young kid whose family emigrated to Canada,” the linebacker from the Democratic Republic of Congo said. “If I never lived in this country I don’t think I’d have ever have the love that I have for this game.”

Two men from different backgrounds and generations, representing two teams with two different stories to tell, battling each other for the right to get their picture taken as they sip from that fabled cup.
Bonded, though, when all is said and done, by a common love for a great game and a cherished tradition.

Like all of us.

AFI, Visaic and the CFL

American Football International is collaborating with Visaic and the Canadian Football League to present 2022 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the topflight TSN network television broadcast.

Watch the game live here PPV. Toronto Argonauts va Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Nov. 21, 00:00 CET (12 midnight, 6 pm ET, Nov. 20)

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