September 2016 – 3DownNation: The Distinction Between Reporting and Journalism.

 

Justin Dunk wrote a piece about the Alouettes attempting to sign Darian Durant, the oft-injured, veteran mobile pivot for the Saskatchewan Name Stealers. Somewhere in the second paragraph, Dunk drops THIS bomb:

Chapdelaine likes Vernon Adams, who the Alouettes traded a first-round pick to get back in May, but he “isn’t a big fan of [Rakeem] Cato”, according to one source.

I have a problem with Dunk’s comments on SEVERAL levels…NONE of which has to do with the veracity of the claim. The Alouettes are, at this VERY moment, negotiating their 2nd practise of the Jacques Chapdelaine Era. To say that after all the bickering, fighting AND LOSING, this nascent Alouettes incarnation is in a fragile state would be an understatement.

A vague allusion to the Head Coach disliking his starting quarterback is as corrosive a statement as I can possibly imagine. So let me explain what I’m getting at:

To start with, DESPITE his many years of coaching experience, or rather BECAUSE of it, Chapdelaine is unlikely to take his perceptions of Cato’s MANY outings in this league, put them up against what he’s seen from Adams in practise, AND declare a preference. Like most of us, Coach Jock KNOWS that what happens on the practise field MAY or MAY NOT translate to success when the bullets start flying. He would be a FOOL to make that sort of premature assessment. Chapdelaine is no fool.

No, one can easily imagine that Chapdelaine was unimpressed with Cato’s attempts to bring unrecalcitrant  goofs like Carter and Stafford into line. So was the statement issued BEFORE he was made HC? When he was receivers coach, and would be VERY likely to defend his guys, on principle? THIS can be addressed.

Or is Chapdelaine, like Carter (apparently) unimpressed with Cato because of his “slumy” turn of phrase, considering him uneducated and inarticulate? Chapdelaine is an intellectual after all. Perhaps there’s some bias there? THIS cannot be addressed.

Context.

If you’re going to write an article that questions the very BACKBONE of someone else’s team. the VERY LEAST you can do is elaborate, or speculate. If Chapdelaine’s problem with Cato rests on his outbursts, and those emotional moments were triggered by a lack of discipline and respect on this team, then presumably THAT is fixable.

AND considering Chapdelaine’s FIRST act was to restore ORDER…with SPECIFIC emphasis on players respecting one another, it would seem that Chapdelaine is doing the work Cato should NEVER have been forced to attempt, and is IN FACT clearing the way for Cato and his teammates to bond, and have success as a team, with hierarchy and structure for all.

WITHOUT elaboration to provide context, Dunk’s little GOSSIPY innuendo reminds one of NOTHING so much as adolescent teenage TWEETS:

“He said he didn’t like you.” “Ooo…why?” “He didn’t say….but you shouldn’t like him too.” “You’re RIGHT!” etc.*

REPORTING what you’ve seen or heard or have had whispered to you in the darkest recesses of the internet is all well and good. But without the context to provide accurate and MEANINGFUL insight, reporting should NEVER be confused with the noble art of journalism.

In this light, 3DownNation becomes little more than a collection of fans, doing what they can to surreptitiously provide ANY advantage to their team of choice…REGARDLESS of the damage they may do to others. It smacks of SMACK.

And if you talk smack about MY Alouettes, prepare to be smacked back.

I MAY be banned again, but as USUAL, I’ll go down swinging, defending MY team.

 

UPDATE: One possible reason for Chapdelaine’s misgivings about Cato occurred to me lately. Casey Printers was an exceptional athlete…so much so that he had SEVERAL looks from NFL clubs over the course of his CFL career, mostly with the BC Lions. Like so many quarterbacks, Printers was HIGHLY competitive, and supremely confident in his abilities. However…and THIS completes his comparison to Duron Carter, he had a reputation for selfishness.

Entering the (2004) Grey Cup, Lions head coach Wally Buono made the controversial decision to start Dickenson. On the biggest stage in Printers career so far, he didn’t even get onto the field as the Lions lost 27-19 to the Toronto Argonauts.

After a season that saw Printers pass for over 5,000 yards, rush for almost 500 yards, and account for 44 touchdowns…it’s VERY possible that Wally made a mistake, NOT playing him in the MOST IMPORTANT game of that season. And while Printers made it CLEAR he was EXTREMELY pissed off…it appears he was right to be.

But being RIGHT rarely matters in terms of your reputation. A helmet throwing sideline tantrum during a game, after a receiver missed a pass…was the last straw. Printers was released.

Chapdelaine was offensive-coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Lions. Lulay and Printers were in his charge when all this went down. It CAN’T be a happy memory for the relatively strict and correct Chapdelaine.

Rakeem Cato has had a VERY hard life. As evidenced by a best friend being found with over a dozen bullet holes riddling his body a little while back. Losing his mother at a young age took a toll on the young man…and he’s dealt with anger issues ever since. Still…it’s NOT something of which Cato is unaware. And if anything, Anthony Calvillo, having been raised in a similar environment, if not exactly the same family situation, can probably empathize with the young pivot…and help him deal with a lot of it.

Still…and from numerous accounts, Cato’s anger issues are a thing of the past. At least they were before he came to the Alouettes. Two seasons in this dysfunctional circus and I’m SHOCKED Cato’s managed to keep his cool as much as he has.

Rakeem Cato was BORN to be a quarterback. And his alternative, or so it would seem, is to return to one of the most DEADLY places in the World, let alone North America. He has a LOT of incentive to want to stick around. I’m not going to try to tell ANYONE that Cato handled the troubles with Carter and Stafford in a sensible and mature fashion.

But from all accounts the young man has learned from the experience…learned from AC the ONE lesson that could carry him his own career: to keep, as a quarterback and leader, a respectful distance from others, as they will from you. It’s not ideal. But perhaps it’s the best way to maintain the natural hierarchy that MUST exist on any football team…for Cato, as it was for Calvillo.

And as Jacques Chapdelaine restructures the internal culture on this team, it’s reasonable to assume that all the elements that led to bringing out the WORST in Rakeem Cato, AND Duron Carter, are in the past, and best forgotten.

Hopefully NOW, despite Dunk’s vague allusions, Chapdelaine will be receptive to seeing Cato in a better light, illuminated by the very hierarchy and order he himself has brought to this team. And perhaps one day, that memory of Casey Printers will fade into the past where it belongs, and be replaced by the success and ultimate GLORY of Cato leading the Alouettes to a Grey Cup…and then another…

Anyone old enough to remember Condredge Holloway and Tom Clements platooning in 1976, winning the Cup that year for Ottawa, is perhaps justified in salivating at the prospect of something similar with Cato and Adams Jr. for our Alouettes.

GO! ALS! GO!

*I don’t know about YOU, but I deeply resent the fact that at this VERY instant, such nonsense is transpiercing ALL OF OUR SKULLS at the speed of light with microwave radiation, dumbing us down by degrees…as if by electronic OSMOSIS. But I get pissed off easily…

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