There's nothing like a good round of recasting TV or movies for sports, and one particular adaptation that's been in my head for a while (thanks to Twitter discussions with Jenn Annis and Matthew Scianitti) is a CFL version of The Lord of the Rings. Given that I spend far too much time thinking about the CFL and am a complete Lord of the Rings nerd, this was an obvious choice. Here's what I came up with. (Keep in mind this is all in fun, and not meant to suggest that certain teams or personalities are good or evil!)
Jim Popp/Montreal as Sauron/Mordor: If anyone deserves the title of Lord of the Rings in the CFL at the moment, Popp's a good candidate. (You can make a case for Wally Buono as well, as he actually has five Grey Cup rings to Popp's four, but Montreal's eastern geography, long string of divisional championships, recent back-to-back Grey Cups and overarching dominance speak in favour of Popp, plus there's a better fit for Buono later on.) This would make Anthony Calvillo the famed Witch-King of Angmar, so he's probably going to keep dominating the CFL until someone puts a female quarterback up against him. Is Icebox busy? I guess she is...)
Toronto as Minas Morgul: Sure, the Argonauts aren't really on the side of the Alouettes, but the depiction of a once-proud city (Minas Ithil) that's abandoned its CFL past seems pretty apt at times, and the ruinous infighting between Shagrat and Gorbag could accurately sum up a lot of the organization's recent history. Plus, the Toronto-Hamilton rivalry seems perfect for Minas Morgul and Minas Tirith. Guess that makes you Osgiliath, Mississauga...
Bob O'Billovich/Hamilton as Denethor/Minas Tirith: Speaking of once-proud CFL cities now under siege, this seems perfectly appropriate. The Tiger-Cats have some impressive personnel, and they may be hoping that Andy Fantuz's return to his homeland goes as well as Aragorn's did, but they still look to have a tough road ahead in the CFL East and their off-field future carries questions as well. They did beat back the forces of Mordor last year, though, and all isn't lost yet, so don't go lighting any pyres, Hamilton fans.
Paul LaPolice/Winnipeg as Frodo: In a division filled with potential powerhouses, the reigning champions aren't exactly getting a lot of hype at the moment. Underestimate the Bombers at your peril, though. While the grand armies and quarterbacks of Montreal, Toronto and Hamilton slug it out in an epic aerial battle on the Pelennor Fields, Winnipeg's defensive efficiency and pounding running game might just let them sneak into Mordor again.
Corey Chamblin/Saskatchewan as Theoden/Rohan: They're the Riders, so this obviously works. Plus, I can see Chamblin giving some fiery speeches. "Arise, arise, Riders of Chamblin! Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter! Opponents shall be shaken, scoreboards shall be splintered, a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises! Ride now, ride now! Ride to Toronto!"
John Hufnagel/Calgary as Elrond/Rivendell: The Stampeders once took up arms against the Alouettes with success in the Last Alliance of Elves and Men (here known as the 2008 Grey Cup), but despite great regular-season power since (finishing first in the West in 2010 and tying for that record in 2009), they haven't involved themselves directly in the most recent fights against Popp's power. We'll see if they follow book continuity and stick to that, or go with movie continuity and take more action.
Eric Tillman/Edmonton as Saruman/Isengard: Potentially-shady deals with Eastern forces that have some wondering if they're in league with the dark powers? (For the record, this corner doesn't buy that, but still.) A desire to see the old world burn in the fires of roster makeovers? Great power and a desire to conquer the West? Sounds good.We'll see how their battle of Helm's Deep against the Riders, Tillman's old allegiance, goes this season.
Wally Buono/B.C. as Gandalf: Buono's whole tenure in B.C. could be summed up as his Gandalf The White phase; he briefly exited the scene in the mines of Calgary, but returned with even more power with the Lions. He's won two Grey Cups with them and five in total, and is widely revered as the wise elder statesman of the CFL. We'll see how he does in his shift to general manager, but he doesn't look ready to take ship at the Grey Havens just yet.