Grey Cup arrives in Toronto, kicking off 100th edition celebrations
Published Friday, November 16, 2012 10:48AM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 16, 2012 10:22PM EST
The Grey Cup arrived in Toronto today, kick-starting a week of festivities leading up to the 100th Grey Cup game on Nov. 25.
CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon and Toronto Argonauts CEO Chris Rudge delivered the legendary trophy to City Hall, where it was welcomed by city councillors .
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford -- a high school football coach, fan, and staunch supporter of the Argos -- was not in attendance, as he is in court to testify in a $6 million libel trial launched against him by a local restaurateur.
A group of former CFLers were also on hand as the cup came to downtown Toronto.
A host of events are planned for the week, from photo opportunities with the storied trophy, to a "Mud Bowl" commemorating the sloppy Grey Cup game of 1950, to meet-and-greets with former players.
It all leads up to the main event -- which will feature the Toronto Argonauts if they win this weekend -- and a star-studded half-time show that includes Justin Bieber, Gordon Lightfoot, Carly Rae Jepsen and Marianas Trench. Burton Cummings and Johnny Reid will headline a pre-game show.
Rudge, CEO of the Argos and chairman of the 100th Grey Cup Festival, said he wanted to take the event to the next level given it is the century milestone of one of the oldest sporting championships in North America.
"It's the biggest and most comprehensive approach ever to a Grey Cup festival. I think we're going to have a party in the city unlike anything we've ever experienced," he told CTV's Canada AM on Friday.
"The thing I'm really looking forward to is there's so much for the public that you don't have to pay to get into. This isn't about just beer and football and VIPs; this is about engaging Canadians. Our phrase is: it's an invitation to the nation so come on out and learn to love Toronto."
One of the events scheduled for the week, the Mud Bowl, is intended to pay tribute to one of the most legendary and historic Grey Cups, but also to get fans involved in the game. In 1950, in front of 27,000 fans at Varsity Stadium, the Argonauts overcame Winnipeg 13-0 in a muddy, messy game that came to be known as the Mud Bowl.
In an effort to recreate the game, Rudge said organizers tracked down a school in Scarborough that needed a new football field. School administrators agreed to allow them to tear up the field, truck in dirt and have firefighters soak the area with water, turning it into a muddy mess reminiscent of Varsity Field in 1950.
Members of the media and local celebrities will suit up for a game of flag football, squaring off against alumni and current school staff.
The school will receive a brand new field -- complete with new sod and bleachers -- compliments of the CFL in the spring of 2013.
Legendary ex-CFL quarterback Damon Allen will coach one of the teams, saying he will sport a vintage suit and Fedora on the sidelines to keep with the style of 1950.
Allen told Canada AM he has had more fun at Grey Cup events since retiring four years ago. Prior to that, as a player, the Hall-of-Famer said he could never enjoy the events because he was solely focused on the competition.
"The players, they have to stay focused because even the element of being in the Grey Cup can be a distraction," he said. "I remember in '86, we lost the Grey Cup game due to the fact we were distracted. So for the players it's business as usual."
In addition to the Argos, the remaining teams battling it out for a coveted playoff spot are the Montreal Alouettes, the Calgary Stampeders and the BC Lions.
CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon, left, touches the Grey Cup at City Hall during a 100th year celebration that kicked off in Toronto on Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Toronto Argonauts' quarterback Ricky Ray, left, and wide receiver Chad Owens take a look around Olympic Stadium in Montreal Saturday, November 17, 2012. (Graham Hughes / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
CFL alumni and firefighter Paul Clatney shows his CFL Grey Cup rings as the Grey Cup arrived at City Hall during a 100th year celebration that kicked off in Toronto on Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS)