On December 7, 2015, a scant seven days after winning the 2015 Grey Cup with the Edmonton Football Team, Chris Jones threw the CFL into a frenzy after announcing he had signed a three-year deal to become the new General Manager and Head Coach of the storied Saskatchewan Roughriders. Cue the most interesting period in Rider Nation’s history. Never a dull day indeed.
I loved this period of Rider history, let’s get that out of the way. Although Jones in his 3 years showed steady improvement going from 5-13 in year one to 12-6 in his last year in the CFL, he failed to get the green and white to the Grey Cup. I was in the 4th row to watch Cody Fajardo (a then Argo) in the Eastern Final sneak in the endzone and score the go-ahead points at BMO Field in Toronto. That one still stings badly.
Chris Jones left Saskatchewan to join the Cleveland Browns defensive staff on January 15, 2019. Despite that, I was a fan of the man and his coaching style.
Now let’s get to the fun stuff!
Vince Young: In March of 2017, the rumours became reality and the former NFL Pro-Bowler flew into blustery Regina, Saskatchewan to sign a deal with the Riders. At 34 years of age, many smart football folks believed Young still had some petro left in the proverbial tank. It was at the Rider’s Florida minicamp that Vince started and ended his football comeback. After suffering a hamstring injury it appeared that the football gods were going to end his comeback bid before the Riders had a say in it. He was noticeably behind the other 4 QBs in camp.
Trent Richardson: In July 2017, ol’ Jonesy strikes again, after putting Richardson on the teams neg list, it was announced that former NFL running back Trent Richardson had signed with the green and white. Richardson was a solid running back in the NFL who flirted with the 1000 yard season a couple of times. T-Rich was a patented NFL back that ran downhill and could not take advantage of the CFL’s bigger field. His stint in green ended with a meagre 260 yards in 4 games.
Terrell Owens: Yup T.O! Chris Jones was at his home in Tennessee on a bye week when he worked out one of the NFL’s greatest receivers of all time. It was rumoured that the workout was held out of respect for the former superstar and was not necessarily endorsed or considered seriously by the football club. The then 44-year old’s football career essentially ended that day with Chris Jones looking on.
Greg Hardy: During July of 2016 Mr. Jones was at it again, when he tried to add former Pro-Bowl NFL rush end Greg Hardy to the teams neg-list. Rumour has it that Hardy or more accurately, his agent contacted the Roughriders about possibly playing in the CFL. In any event, the CFL blocked the Riders and Jones from pursuing this any further as Hardy was involved in some unsavoury behaviour south of the border.
Never a dull day, indeed.
Stay safe sports fans, ’till next time.