If you are a sports fan for any length of time then one thing you come to learn is that you can expect to hear a lot of platitudes from players, coaches and the media alike. ‘It’s a business’, ‘Next man Up’, ‘Pull together’, ‘Quarterback is the most important position in sports’. If you are a fan of the Toronto Argonauts then there’s a chance you’ve heard all of those recently at some point.
The thing about platitudes is we dismiss them at our peril. A platitude is usually roughly defined as a statement that may be true but has lost meaning due to having been so over-used before. The point is we may have heard it all a thousand times before and become inured to the message but it really does still apply.
It’s a business: When Argos fans think about it being a business, they know that they will never lose their humanity and compassion for Ricky Ray’s injury,[ http://ninetynineyards.com/2018/06/25/argos-anguish-as-ricky-ray-is-injured/ ], but they have to accept that Ray’s injury is someone else’s chance.
Next man up: It’s true to say that football has a team ethic at its heart and that part of that ethic is that when one competitor goes down it’s time for the next one to step up. James Franklin has been chosen by Head Coach Marc Trestman to be that man. Actually according to Matthew Scianitti on his twitter account (@TSNScianitti) the coach said that choice was a ‘ “figurative coin flip” between picking Franklin or Mcleod Bethel-Thompson.’ So Franklin may be the captain for now but he knows he has competition for the post.
Pull together: This is the motto for the 2018 Argos and now that Ray has gone down it couldn’t be more apposite. No one should be expected to directly replace Ricky Ray. He is arguably one of the best ever at his position in the CFL. In fact there has been a lot of online discussion about who the top 5 all-time CFL QB’s are and Ray’s name is often in the mix. No pressure then. That’s where the team need to pull together, get behind the new leader and give him the support he needs.
Quarterback is the most important position in sports: That is an argument that could run and run depending on your point of view, but there is no denying that a solid QB is vital to success. They are also ‘the face of your franchise’ to borrow another overused but none the less true platitude. The Argos were prepared for this. They traded for Franklin in the off-season as a contingency for just this sort of situation. If QB is the most important position in sports at least Toronto were already treating it that way.
Due to a confluence of circumstances beyond his control James Franklin has an opportunity. Now he has to seize it. Argos fans will hope he shows the sort of form he showed against their team in the past when he starts leading them. They have seen him make his CFL debut start against the Argos in 2015 at Commonwealth Stadium. Standing in for an injured Mike Reilly, Franklin went 29-38 for 355 yards and a touchdown as well as rushing for another. In 2016 he started against Toronto again and threw for 335 yards and four first half TD passes. Anything like that level of success and Toronto fans will be very happy.
Franklin spent 52 games backing up reigning MOP Mike Reilly. He has been in the training room and film sessions with Ricky Ray. The Argos have pro football’s all-time yardage leader Quarterbacks Coach Anthony Calvillo on the Toronto staff. head Coach Trestman and Offensive Coordinator Tommy Condell will doubtless build the system to suit Jame’s talents.
Platitudes exist for a reason. They are overused because they are true. So let’s finish with some more. Everything is in place for Franklin to succeed. This is a great opportunity. The Missouri product is highly regarded in the league. Let’s see if he’s good value for that regard.
As ever, we don’t know what is going to happen, but hopefully we’ll have some fun along the way finding out.
image originally from cfl.ca