The above picture is a frankly amazing collection of CFL talent and history, featuring all five of the quarterbacks who won a Grey Cup for the B.C. Lions together in one place with the trophy itself. From left to right, that's Joe Kapp (1964), Roy Dewalt (1985), Danny McManus (1994), Damon Allen (2000) and Dave Dickenson (2006). They're all in town for the Lions' annual Orange Helmet Awards (which take place tonight), and they've already had plenty of interesting things to say, from recent Hall of Fame inductee Danny McManus's discussion of a fight in the locker room the night before the 1994 Grey Cup game to assorted thoughts on if Dickenson and Allen will get into the Hall of Fame next year (both are eligible). Simply putting those guys in a room together should be enough to ensure a great night for attendees, and the Lions deserve commendation for not just looking at their past, but looking beyond the recent past. Plenty of teams honour the guys who just finished their careers, but it's more rare to see long-ago legends like Kapp and Dewalt recognized, even if their contributions were every bit as important.
In my mind, that's something other CFL clubs and the league should try to do more of. This isn't a league event (and in fact, its timing conflicts with the league's E-Camp, so Lions' coach/GM Wally Buono's flying back and forth to Toronto this weekend), but it would be fantastic to see other clubs and the league as a whole do more along these lines. There's some of that with the annual Hall of Fame inductions and other clubs' own ring/wall of honour ceremonies, but those are some of the few times when we really get a look into the league's past (and even those tend to mostly focus on the last couple of decades rather than the CFL's early days). Similarly, there are often plenty of former players around at the Grey Cup, but there isn't a lot of focus on them given the general insanity of that week. Why not put together some further offseason events to honour the league's past? Those could take any form, from gala luncheons or dinners with CFL legends to simple articles and media conference calls with players to celebrate the anniversaries of important CFL events. For example, I'm sure there are lots of CFL fans out there who'd like to hear from members of the Eskimos' five-straight Grey Cup winning teams (next year marks the 30th anniversary of their fifth championship), or find out more about the legendary 1991 Argonauts (owned by John Candy, Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall!) from players like Matt Dunigan and Paul Masotti.
One of the big advantages the CFL has going for it is its rich history and tradition. There's something particularly special about a trophy that will be awarded for the 99th time this season, and one that's been claimed by everyone from the Hamilton Alerts to Queen's University to the Toronto RCAF Hurricanes and the Baltimore Stallions. This is the league that brought us the Ice Bowl, the "Act of God" game and the Battle of the Border, after all. The league and its clubs do already do some things to promote their history, but there's always the opportunity to do more. The Lions just upped the ante with their reunion of their five Grey Cup-winning quarterbacks; let's see if anyone else will follow suit.