MONTREAL - You knew that one of these days, reality was going to reach out and slap Tanner Marsh upside the head.
It might have been his first game in the CFL, when the 23-year-old Texas gunslinger led an improbable comeback against the B.C. Lions. It could have been last Tuesday in Toronto, when he was steady at the helm in picking up a road win against the Argos.
Instead, reality caught up to Marsh Sunday, on the sunny turf at Percival Molson, when the Alouettes somehow blew a 15-point third-quarter lead and a last-ditch effort to tie it ended with Marsh chucking an interception in the end zone.
For this one afternoon, Marsh Madness became mad-at-Marsh as the young quarterback looked (surprise, surprise) like what he is — a raw rookie in a tough professional league. Marsh was good at times, he was bad at times, he was mediocre at times. He was consistently tough, which is one of his qualities, and he never stopped looking for a way to win, but in the end it wasn’t enough.
But this is why it will be hard for the Alouettes to avoid temptation if Anthony Calvillo recovers and wants to go back on the field: the Als might not sink with Marsh, but they’re aren’t a threat to win a Grey Cup with him, either. With Calvillo, they’re always a threat.
And for Calvillo personally, the fact that he could pass the 80,000-yard mark passing with one good half of football may be too much to resist. Meanwhile, Marsh is getting the kind of experience that remains the only ticket to success in professional football: a doctoral degree from the School of Hard Knocks.
Not that this loss was entirely on a young man who was playing college ball this time last year. There were some defensive breakdowns and there were some strange calls from the coaching staff — especially the one that had S.J. Green throwing off a fake reverse. Green may be a lot of things, but a quarterback is not one of them: he elected to pass when he needed to eat the ball, with extra relish.
Some losses are worse than others. When the third quarter began yesterday, the Als appeared on the verge of moving into a three-way tie atop the East Division with Toronto and Hamilton. If they could have hung on, they would have beaten the Argos (arguably their toughest rival in the division) twice in five days.
They were facing a Toronto team that was missing Ricky Ray and Chad Owens — at least the equivalent of the offensive stars the Als are missing. They had a beautiful opportunity to keep the momentum going.
Instead, they are now 4-6, two games back of the Argonauts.
The result wasn’t really a surprise. Marc Trestman, who might have been on the sidelines here Sunday, was coaching the Chicago Bears to a 24-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in his debut as a head coach in the NFL. Calvillo, who should have been behind centre as Marsh learned with a clipboard in his hand, was a spectator.
Tanner Marsh? There’s plenty of time for him to live up to that No. 4 he wears on his back and to remind us all of a tough QB who did his gunslinging on the frozen turf at Lambeau Field. Sunday wasn’t Marsh’s day, but that’s the great thing about being 23: the future is still boundless and the sky is the limit.
Lies, rumours &&&& vicious innuendo: If that thing Jonathan Toews was wearing in a leaked photo was really Team Canada’s new jersey for Sochi, no wonder Toews had an expression on his puss like he’d just been traded to Calgary. That jersey looks like a flyer for a sale at Canadian Tire. …
Speaking of Calgary, how’d you like to be Jay Feaster, with Brian Burke looking over your shoulder? Feaster now has the job security of a guy with a ponytail working for Donald Trump. …
So wrestling is back in the Olympics — where it always belonged. But baseball and softball are still out, which is ridiculous, and squash couldn’t make the cut. Really, the Games need a sweeping change, away from elitist sports and sports tied to the military: Do away with shooting, archery, the modern pentathlon, sailing and equestrian and there would be room for all sorts of real sports. …
But any list of “real sports” does NOT include hide-and-seek, which a Japanese professor is pushing as an Olympic sport. …
Maybe Pauline Marois and her language-obsessed Tongue Troopers should consider giving Lifetime Achievement Awards to P.J. Stock, Matt Dunigan and Don Cherry — broadcasters who have driven tens of thousands of anglos to watch French TV. …
Either of the droning McEnroe brothers can poison a tennis broadcast with that monotone — but Pam Shriver and Chris Evert are almost as bad with their ceaseless yack, yack, yack, making the same point a thousand times a match. Just shut up and watch, people! …
Maybe Eminem did a few too many broccoli and carrots before his ESPN appearance Saturday night. The guy definitely looked (and sounded) like a vegetable. …
Jeffrey Loria’s Marlins still have a good shot at 100 losses. Despite a great young pitcher in Jose Fernandez (and yes, you know they’ll screw him up) the Marlins are still bottom-feeders. …
Mark my words: the Baltimore Ravens are going to regret at least $119 million of the $120 million they’re paying Joe Flacco. Flacco is a mediocre QB who got lucky once. It won’t happen again. …
Hal Gill, one of our favourite Habs of the past decade, on a tryout with the Flyers? Gack. …
Heroes: Tanner Marsh, Jerome Messam, S.J. Green, Chip Cox, John Bowman, Geoff Tisdale, Ed Gainey, Marc-Olivier Brouilette, Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis, Mike Napoli, Mariano Rivera, Alfonso Soriano, Stanislas Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal, Henry Burris, Vincenzo Nibali, Olympic wrestling, John Herdman &&&& last but not least, Peyton Manning.
Zeros: Serena Williams, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Miguel Tejada, Roger Goodell, the NFL, Matt Dunigan, the Droning McEnroes, Lance Armstrong, Eminem, Danny Trevathan, Joe Flacco, Rex Ryan, Greg Schiano, Bill Belichick, Aaron Hernandez, Valeri Putin, Real Madrid, Gareth Bale, Pierre Gauthier, Claude Brochu, David Samson &&&& last but never least, Jeffrey Loria.
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