As we watch the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ 2023 season circling the bowl, bracing for the inevitable 6-12 record—as inevitable as a Roughriders’ quarterback being sacked on a 2nd and long passing situation—one begins to reminisce about past seasons of futility, when we still benefitted from the occasionally caustic but always relevant assessments provided by the legendary Rob Vanstone.
Back in the day, meaning last season, Rob Vanstone worked for the used car advertiser and real estate flyer known as the Regina Leader-Post, a daily pamphlet that advertises the services of a seemingly unlimited number of professional, knowledgeable and responsive realtors and as well as the endless special sales offered by the plethora of Regina’s finest new and used car dealerships. In the midst of dozens of toothy smiles of middle-aged men and women promising to deliver RESULTS! and hundreds of blurry pictures of aging Dodge Rams and a seemingly bottomless pit of Toyota Corollas, one could find an oasis of insightful football analysis, being the articles written by Leader-Post sports editor Rob Vanstone.
Unfortunately, Mr. Vanstone now works for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, so he has had his wings clipped, so to speak. His formerly educating and edifying analysis is now restricted to a prolific preponderance of powder-puff pieces providing a profusion of pure pandering propaganda that would make Joseph Goebbels purple (uh, blush).
I’m sure Bob Hughes—who first exposed me to the now obligatory cliché “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory”, a Roughriders’ specialty—rolls over in his grave every time another Vanstone entry at www.riderville.com gets posted. The reality is that it is only fun to read about the Roughriders when they’re losing, and they lose a lot. But that’s not what Mr. Vanstone writes about anymore.
Yeah, telling us how Ron Lancaster won some damned game in 1965 after throwing six interceptions in the first quarter and getting replaced mid-game by Glenn Dobbs, Frank Tripucka, Larry Dick, Mayor Henry Baker and the cast of Up With People! and then chucking five touchdowns in the last three minutes of the fourth quarter to Gluey Hughy, prime minister Lester Pearson and a 12-year old Joey Walters is interesting, and spending an entire article explaining the arcane CFL playoff system of the 1950s and 1960s (five game west final total point and regular season head-to-head record differential minus the square root of the diameter of one of those old-style bloated egg-shaped CFL footballs) is great for fans of advanced calculus, and eggs, but I want Vanstone to completely pillory the bizarre mid-game coaching choices, unbelievable offensive incompetence and inexplicable off-season management decisions of the allegedly professional football club known as these Saskatchewan Roughriders.
What is the point of watching the Roughriders crash and burn if we can’t relive it after every calamitous game, in excruciating detail, in the words of Rob Vanstone, esq.
Instead, we get articles that sound like they might have been written by a high school cheerleader—C’mon, guys, we can do it! We just have to try harder!
So what is there left to say about the Saskatchewan Roughriders following their latest defeat? Not much. Well… at least they are not the Edmonton Elks. I mean, holy shit.
But the Rob Vanstone I knew (not personally) would be banging out a 3,500 word essay completely eviscerating the rank boobery of a Roughriders team that is headed in the wrong direction barreling down a dead end road like Wiley E. Coyote chasing the Roadrunner. Yes-yes, he would also point out that the team has been decimated with injuries to key offensive players, and the team has a pretty decent defense, but still.
And hey! Does anyone else think Argonaut quarterback Chad Kelly, nephew (or something) of legendary four-time Super Bowl loser and former USFL star Jim Kelly, himself the grandson of Hollywood legend Gene Kelly (not true), looks a lot like Uncle Leo from Seinfeld?