While it wasn’t the championship finale he expected, Saskatchewan Roughriders general manager Jeremy O’Day was still optimistic about the season his team had on the field in 2021.
“We were quite successful,” O’Day said during his season-ending press conference. “We put ourselves in a good position to make the playoffs and get a playoff game at home. It was good for us to get that first home playoff win at our stadium, which was a big deal for us.
“But the reality is that we did not reach our ultimate goal, which is to win the Gray Cup.”
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After a 2020 season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fact that the league could play this year is also something O’Day was grateful for. And while there were some additional challenges with the pandemic restrictions, it was worth it as the team had no outbreaks.
“We had to adjust a lot of things that we did to make it happen,” O’Day said. “There was a great commitment not only from the players, but also from the staff and the coaches to commit to doing what we had to do to finish the season.”
There is no indication yet what restrictions might be in place by 2022, but what we do know about next season is that Saskatchewan will host the Gray Cup.
However, even with the championship at home, O’Day is not necessarily changing his approach in the off-season, and “not necessarily because the Gray Cup is here, more so how we ended the last two years.” O’Day was referring to his team’s back-to-back losses in the west final. “When you get that close and you’re one step away from going to the Gray Cup and then hopefully winning it, I think that’s all the extra pressure you need.”
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But just like in 2013, when the Riders won the Gray Cup at home, O’Day would love a similar moment in 2022.
“When you think about the ideal situation, winning at home, it doesn’t get any better than that,” said O’Day, who was the assistant general manager for the Riders in 2013. “As we saw in ’13, I didn’t ‘No I know if I’ve ever been a part of something as exciting as winning at home. “
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