Could we see an Argos-Lions Braley Bunch Grey Cup? 0
Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray fumbles the ball as he is tackled by Lions defensive lineman Jabar Westerman at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., Aug. 6, 2012. (FRED THORNHILL/Reuters)
As strange as it may appear, the CFL's historic 100th Grey Cup may also be remembered as Braley Bowl XII.
Whether it's fitting, embarrassing, or somewhere in between, it's not a stretch to envision a scenario that sees the Argos and B.C. Lions playing on the game's biggest stage.
If this indeed does happen, and it's well within the realm of possibility, then David Braley is assured of emerging as the ultimate winner in ways that can't even be measured.
A year ago, his Lions won the Grey Cup on their home field.
Heading into Saturday's home kickoff against the Argos, the Lions have basically picked up where they left off last season, which began with a season-opening five-game losing streak.
There's no better quarterback than Travis Lulay, who is still learning - which is scary in itself - no better offensive line, no better defence and no better organization when it comes to evaluating talent and finding pieces to fit its system on either side of the ball.
In Toronto, Braley's other team has shown glimpses of being Grey Cup-worthy.
Saturday night represents one of those litmus tests for an Argos team that is 4-1 against Eastern rivals.
Predictably, no one associated with the Argos is placing any added meaning to their visit to B.C., but it is big nonetheless at a time when Toronto needs to measure itself against the very best.
The optics in the CFL are never good when one owner cuts the cheque for 25% of the league's franchises, even if it is a man of Braley's cache, influence and impeccable reputation.
Had it not been Braley's passion for pigskin, connections and deep pockets, no one can say what the southern Ontario market would look like.
Perhaps it would be fitting that the Argos and Lions will meet one final time with the stakes at their absolute highest.
For that to happen, a lot will depend on how the Argos match up in their second and final regular-season meeting against B.C.
In the East, the Argos are as good as Montreal, a team Toronto beat on the road, a team Toronto will visit next week, the only team, as of now, that's standing in the way of the Argos when the Argos aren't getting in their own way.
The Ticats remain the biggest wild card depending on how they react to their five-game losing streak. If ever a team has learned how to lose, it's the Ticats, a team that has lost its way.
The same applies in Winnipeg, but in the CFL so much can change at the drop of a hat.
Right now, the Argos are the best the East has to offer and the Lions are clearly the best in either division.
What kind of gap may be revealed by as early as late Saturday.
Scott Milanovich has waited for his Argos to get on some kind of roll, establish a level of consistency and create separation in the manner his former team, the Als, would invariably achieve en route to locking up first in the East and earning that all-important bye into the final.
It's why the Braley Bowl has the potential to be recreated in late November.
In the five previous stagings of the Braley Bowl, the Lions have toppled the Argos four times, the most recent in early August.
B.C. has become a house of horrors for the Argos, who can exorcize their demons if they play at their best.
Last year's loss in Toronto prompted the Argos to part ways with Cleo Lemon.
This year's setback spelled the end of Cory Boyd's run in Double Blue.
Saturday may be the last time the Argos and Lions play each other this season, but stranger things have happened and perhaps the strangest of all may yet unfold.
"When we don't beat ourselves, I think we're one of the best teams in the league, if not the best,'' Argos starting right tackle Chris Van Zeyl said. "We're at least in the top three."
A win Saturday against a very good Lions team and suddenly the Argos move up in class.