The better part of Valour, is Discretion; in the which better part, I haue saued my life.
-Shakespeare: Henry IV, Part I
As I type these words I can almost FEEL Jim Popp pulling the strings: Zeke and Versheval writing stories insinuating Cato is somehow a BAD quarterback. “Just LOOK how he dropped to the ground”. Bad character, bad apple, can’t control his emotions. Just like Carter and Stafford. It’s NOT always stated outright, OFTEN only guilt by association. But it’s ALWAYS there, like the ever growing stench of putrefaction.
We’re supposed to question Cato. Boo and hiss if possible. Well I refuse.
It’s NOT just because he’s been treated UNBELIEVABLY unfairly. After all, Cato has played through 2 incompetent offensive-coordinators, toxic receivers, and a criminally irresponsible O-line. All the while it’s been made CRYSTAL clear that he’s to say NOTHING, never express his frustration or yell at the INCOMPETENTS who are arguably destroying his career…before it’s gotten started.
And yet…briefly Googling something like “quarterback yells at offensive line” yields myriad examples of quarterbacks doing EXACTLY that:
Tom Brady has been mad before. The three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback has yelled at linemen, thrown his helmet in disgust and had a pointed word or two on the sideline for coaches. But never has the New England Patriots signal caller looked as furious as he was on Sunday night.
Alright, say you…but THAT’S Tom Brady. Hmmmm, say I…WHO exactly would you have a young quarterback emulate? Maybe the best in the business? Brady is a competitor, hates to lose. When losses are the result of others’ incompetence, he calls them out. It’s what leaders do! We’ve made SO MUCH out of Cato’s emotional responses, and yet if they came from an established veteran like Tom Brady…nobody would be questioning his character…QUITE the contrary.
On top of which…EACH of Cato’s “outbursts” were right on the NOSE: Cato blew up at Calvillo last year for being an imbecilic playcaller: Calvillo was demoted for EXACTLY that. Cato yelled at Stafford and Carter for laziness and disrespectful behaviour: BOTH are gone, for EXACTLY those reasons. And FINALLY…Cato dropped to the ground in protest of a DISASTROUS offensive line: Ruby is GONE, Allstar LBJ restored and the line looks MUCH better.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, Cato had finally had enough. The “rock” is the piece of flesh where Jim Popp’s heart USED to be. The “hard place” is the cold cold ground, the acquaintance of which Cato has been MORE than familiar.
As I stated previously, Popp is out on a limb over the Adams signing. If Adams makes a good showing, he will have been seen as “worth” the HEAVY price of a 1st round daft pick. If he DOESN’T…Popp may WELL be on his way out. His consternation is understandable. ESPECIALLY because that 1st round pick might have gone a LONG way to solving our O-line problems. Might I ALSO point out that a Left Tackle WAS available in last year’s draft, but Popp chose a Guard instead…mystifyingly.
Can I state EMPHATICALLY that Jim Popp left a PATHETIC O-line in place, so that Glenn and then Cato would appear to fail…and then gave a green light to repair that line if it seemed like Adams Jr. was getting knocked around as ruthlessly as his predecessors? After observing this team and the maneuverings of it’s GM for over a decade…I’d say it’s MORE than likely. But to make my point it NEEDN’T be.
Even if Popp was simply STUBBORNLY refusing to re-install Luc Brodeur-Jourdain at centre, and CAN Jacob Ruby altogether for some “development…let’s see how they progress” reason, after Glenn was leading the CFL in being “smacked” it SHOULD have been obvious even to a deluded, TIN POPP PENIS-POTATO (DICK-TATER) that the experiment WASN’T working, his quarterbacks were getting PUMMELED into the ground, and SOMETHING, ANYTHING had to be done.
And yet, week after week nothing WAS done. SURELY despite the protests of Chapdelaine, and Calvillo before him. Popp REMOVED (or allowed to be removed) the 3 obstacles that had hamstrung Cato’s young career: a bad OC, worse receivers AND an even WORSE O-line. ALL to give Vernon Adams Jr. EVERY advantage over his competition…his quarterback competition that is. Popp cares NAUGHT about the REAL competition. You know. The other 8 teams in the league.
The drums are beating, and Cato is SURELY on his way out. The process of besmirching Cato’s reputation is WELL underway. Whether another CFL team has the wisdom to ignore the propaganda and sign a guy who to Jacques Chapdelaine is just another Casey Printers…remains to be seen.
After Printers, I can’t REALLY blame Chappers for being skittish. But the rest of us have NO SUCH BAGGAGE. If we don’t INSIST Cato stick with the team and be given the chance to prove what he can do, with ALL the advantages accorded to Adams Jr., we’ll NOT ONLY be doing the young man a HUGE disservice, we’ll be shooting ourselves in the foot: EVERY team in football needs MORE than one legitimate quarterback. Injuries insist upon it.
But if/when Cato lands with another CFL club, one with a deeper tradition of mobile pivots and the knowledge of how to properly exploit their abilities, we could be spending the ensuing playoff seasons watching Cato lead THEM to the glory that should be our own. Just as we will this year, watching Chris Rainey (potentially) lead the Lions to a deep playoff run.
Wouldn’t Edmonton LOVE a legitimate backup, with (roughly) the skillset of a Mike Reilly? Saskatchewan has made a LOT of hay with Darian Durant and his abilities. I’m sure Chris Jones would have a few ideas how to develop a young talent like Cato. The Ticats could use another pivot along the theme of a Zack Collaros, and BC has to be wondering WHO will finally emerge as 2nd to Jennings, after Lulay is put out to pasture.
I know NOT A WORD has been written about releasing Rakeem Cato…other than Zeke’s paranoid ramblings…CONSISTENTLY denied by Popp. I ALSO know, after all these years, how to read the Poppian signs along the Alouettes’ Highway to Hell. If Adams makes a good showing against Calgary, and then Hamilton…Cato WILL be released before next season. BANK on it.
So if my next few posts demonstrate the teeniest bit of obsessiveness on this issue, please forgive me. I TOO was right about Calvillo as OC. I too was right about Jim Popp as HC. And I too am right about keeping and developing Rakeem Cato.
If my efforts have, in the MINUTEST way, influenced the positive change that’s begun the transformation of this team, I can only PRAY that I can somehow convince someone to keep Rakeem Cato…
BEFORE it’s too late.
UPDATE: Quarterback rankings from CFL.ca. Hopefully they’re not merely being naive about Cato.