REGINA — The initials 'EE" once stood strictly for 'Edmonton Eskimos" or, in the eyes of their envious detractors, 'Evil Empire." Now it is just part of 'EECH!!!!"
What a feckless football team.
What an EEmbarrassment.
How could the Edmonton Eskimos — who were once perceived as THE Edmonton Eskimos — ever descend to such a subterranean level?
Did you see Sunday's game? If so, that might put you one step ahead of some of the Eskimos' players, who were seemingly oblivious to the horror. At times, it looked like they needed GPS to locate the huddle.
The Calgary Stampeders won a 56-15 laugher at McMahon Stadium. The score, in and of itself, was most unflattering to the visitors. The Eskimos compounded the misery by behaving like idiots — granted, select Stampeders were also responsible — as opposed to conducting themselves with class.
Once upon a time, the Eskimos were synonymous with class and decorum. Even if you loathed them as a fan, you had to respect them. From the top down, they were the Canadian Football League's model organization. The likes of Hugh Campbell, Norm Kimball and, yes, even Ron Lancaster instilled the Eskimo Way.
And now, you have the Eskimos' Kai Ellis raining blows on the head of the Stampeders' Jabari Arthur, as opposed to tackling the man.
You have Edmonton receiver Kelly Campbell popping blood vessels after a video review correctly overturns what was initially called a touchdown in the waning seconds.
You have an out-of-control Campbell — the antithesis of the other Campbell mentioned in this space — firing a football toward who knows what as he approaches the sidelines.
The Eskimos are losing by 41 points, and it's 'me, me, me."
As a Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver, Hugh Campbell was Gluey Hughie. The other Campbell simply came unglued.
Save for a missed, chip-shot field goal by Calgary's Rob Maver, Edmonton would have surrendered the most points in team history. Instead, Edmonton gave up 56 points for only the second time.
On Aug. 28, 1964, the visitors from Saskatchewan eviscerated Edmonton 56-8. Roughriders halfback Ed Buchanan rushed 19 times for 199 yards (including a 73-yard touchdown) and caught three passes for 102 yards. Lancaster's favourite receiver was none other than Hugh Campbell, who caught 10 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns.
The Eskimos' organization began its decline during the 2006 season, after which Campbell stepped down as president and CEO. He was succeeded by Rick LeLacheur, an immensely successful businessman with long-standing ties to the Eskimos' board of directors and the Alberta sporting community.
LeLacheur eventually concluded that Danny Maciocia was an in-over-his-head-coach, so a change was made on the sideline. To clear a vacancy for a new head coach, Maciocia was actually promoted.
Maciocia was also found wanting as the general manager, and was fired July 31. Instead of remedying the situation, Maciocia's removal created more dysfunction, because the Eskimos were operating without a plan of succession.
The Roughriders had a plan when GM Roy Shivers was fired in August of 2006. President-CEO Jim Hopson hired Eric Tillman two days later. Tillman proceeded to elevate the Roughriders' on-field fortunes because he, too, had a plan.
The Eskimos, by contrast, are still fumbling around, wondering who will be their next general manager.
The logical move would be to install Tillman as GM. Granted, he pleaded guilty in January to a summary change of sexual assault, but he was also given an absolute discharge, after which he expressed remorse and conveyed profuse apologies.
Despite Tillman's contrition, would his appointment create a backlash in Edmonton? Perhaps. But the scenario has merit and it is certainly worth consideration — especially in light of precedent, and in the absence of any other credible or discernible plan from an organization that was once widely emulated and admired.
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