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Leave it to Ben Roethlisberger and the CFL to get me excited about the upcoming NFL season

I often get hit with the football bug every year around this time. This year, that occurred thanks to Ben Roethlisberger and the CFL t-shirt he was wearing on a recent episode of his podcast.

Montreal Alouettes

It’s been happening just about every summer since I can remember.

What’s that, you ask? I get reminded that football is just around the corner, and this reminder gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside my belly. I smile and usually spend a few weeks watching old football stuff.

This watching of old football stuff now takes place on YouTube, a streaming service that did not exist the first time I remember this phenomenon happening.

It was in 1984, and I was watching a baseball game between the Pirates and Braves down in Atlanta. I wasn’t personally in attendance at this game—I was 12 and broke—but I had my television tuned into the local CBS affiliate, KDKA, which actually had the rights to broadcast Pirates games in those days. Anywho, there was a play at some point in which the catcher, third baseman or first baseman tried to make a grab in the stands or the dugout, and either did or did not. (I realize the details of this story are sketchy, but this was 39 years ago, and it really doesn’t matter as it pertains to my point.) This could have been a Pirate or a Brave, it’s not important. What is important is that the Pirates color commentator—this could have been Steve Blass, Jim Rooker or someone totally different—said, “He didn’t get both feet in bounds before making the catch.”

That was basically the quote, and I immediately got the warm and fuzzies, because I knew football was just a few months away.

I remember watching an Australian Rules football game many years ago (don’t ask me why), and even THAT got me all excited about the upcoming NFL season.

The same thing happened in 2019 when my sister threw a combined birthday party for three of her kids (two of them are twins) at a park. Why did this happen? Because this park was adjacent to a high school football field—I’m talking about one of those high schools located in Suburbia, which meant it looked like a college football field—and I remember looking down at this empty venue and quietly getting all excited about the NFL.

I realize this is a lot of build-up to how Ben Roethlisberger made this almost-yearly phenomenon occur in 2023, but there isn’t a whole lot of meat in this article, and I’m required to write at least 400 words.

Anyway, as Big Ben co-hosted a recent episode of his Footbahlin podcast featuring T.J. Watt, he did so while wearing what I thought was a pretty sweet-looking CFL t-shirt.

It was very basic, as far as t-shirts go, and was black with a simple CFL logo located chest-high and in the center.

That’s it, that’s what did it for me this time.

I immediately got all excited about the NFL, even if this did lead to me watching old CFL stuff on YouTube. Not only that, but I began to Google CFL history. In case you don’t know, CFL is short for Canadian Football League, and it’s been the official name of Canada’s professional football organization since 1958.

I won’t get into the history of the league, other than to say that I used to sit around and watch CFL football when I was a kid.

It was easier to do back then because it was more readily available. I paid attention to who won the annual Grey Cup—the league’s version of the Super Bowl and the top football title in Canada since 1909.

Things were simpler in the ‘80s. You gave a darn about football other than just the NFL and big-time college ball.

I miss those days, because that’s when I fell in love with the game of football.

Believe it or not, the CFL, with its huge end zones and weird (compared to the NFL, anyway) scoring system, was part of why I fell in love with the sport as a youngster.

Leave it to Ben Roethlisberger to again come through in the clutch and get me all excited about the NFL at a stage of my life when I no longer thought that was possible.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch some highlights of Warren Moon when he dominated the CFL and won five-straight Grey Cup titles as the quarterback of the Edmonton Eskimos.