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The 2008 CFL season was the 55th season of modern Canadian professional football. Officially, it was the 51st season for the league. It was also the first CFL season in which all of the league's regular season and post-season games, including the Grey Cup game, were aired on TSN. This meant the CFL was no longer aired on broadcast television in Canada. As of 2008, TSN was available in approximately 8.8 million of Canada's 13 million households. Montrealmarker hosted the 96th Grey Cup at Olympic Stadiummarker on November 23, when the championship was won by the Calgary Stampeders.

CFL News in 2008

Schedule

On February 21, 2008, the CFL announced the game schedule for the 2008 season. It was a 19-week schedule that included 18 regular-season games and one bye week for each team. Bye weeks were taken consecutively by each division, beginning with the West in Week 8, thus creating two weeks of divisional rivalry games.

The regular-season schedule began on Thursday, June 26, with an East-West double-header. For the first time since 1977, the season opener took place at Hamiltonmarker's Ivor Wynne Stadiummarker, with the host Tiger-Cats losing to the Montreal Alouettes 33-10. The second game of the double-header saw the Calgary Stampeders at home, where they prevailed 28-18 over the BC Lions. The Toronto Argonauts opened by beating the host Winnipeg Blue Bombers 23-16 the following night, and the Saskatchewan Roughriders defeated the Edmonton Eskimos, in Reginamarker, by a score of 34-13 on June 28..

The regular season concluded with a double-header on Saturday, November 1, with divisional playoffs the following weekend. The 2008 season officially ended with the playing of the 96th Grey Cup Championship on Sunday, November 23, in Montrealmarker.

Television

2008 marked the first year in which the entire CFL schedule, including the playoffs and the Grey Cup game, was televised by TSN. CBC television did not broadcast any games, as the CFL and TSN began an exclusive five-year deal. This led some to criticize TSN, because the Grey Cup aired on a cable channel (TSN) while CTV—TSN's majority owner—broadcast regular-season NFL games. Because of obligations to other sporting events, concerns intensified after TSN began relegating some CFL games to its new digital channel TSN2 (which was not available to analog cable subscribers), while other sports, including the NFL, were broadcast. In addition, TSN severely curtailed high-definition coverage for the final three weeks of the regular season, with only five of the twelve games being made available in HD.

Montreal games, as well as the entire playoffs and the Grey Cup game, were televised in French by RDS.

In the United States, a last-minute deal was reached between the league and its longtime American syndicator America One, which carried two games each week. Internet broadcasts were also aired in the United States on ESPN360.

CFL in Ottawa

On March 25, 2008, the CFL granted a conditional franchise—slated to begin play in 2010—to an Ottawamarker-based group led by Jeff Hunt, owner of the Ontario Hockey League's Ottawa 67's, under the condition that the group could secure a lease agreement with the City of Ottawa to allow the team to play at Frank Clair Stadiummarker. The franchise was based on the remnants of the Ottawa Renegades, but was to be a separate team. In November, it was announced that the 2014 Grey Cup would be granted to Ottawa, again based on the condition that use of Frank Clair Stadium could be secured.

Competition with the NFL

2008 was the first year in which the National Football League played a regular season game in Toronto, as part of an agreement reached between the owners of the Rogers Centremarker and that league and the Buffalo Bills. The NFL accommodated the CFL by playing the regular season game on December 7, after the end of the CFL season, so that the leagues did not directly compete. A preseason game was also played in Toronto, on August 14, between the Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers, one day before the Toronto Argonauts played in the Rogers Centre, and concurrently with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' game in Winnipeg. The Bills' preseason game did not sell out, amid reports of exorbitant ticket prices and thousands of tickets being given away.

Marketing and Heritage Revisited

In an effort to expand the CFL merchandise line, it was announced that RBK would release vintage jerseys for each team, beginning with the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The launch for the new apparel began August 29, 2008, with releases in Toronto and Winnipeg retail stores attended by Argonaut players Kerry Joseph and Arland Bruce III and Blue Bombers Kevin Glenn and Milt Stegall respectively.

Attendance

Attendance in the CFL remained strong in 2008, averaging 28,914 per game and exceeded two million fans for the seventh straight season.

Records and Milestones



Regular season

Note: GP = Games Played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PF = Points For, PA = Points Against, Pts = Points

Teams in 'bold finished in playoff positions.

X - clinched playoff berth

Y - clinched first place





Notes

  • A team that placed fourth in one division was eligible to "cross over" and claim the third playoff spot in the other division if they had a better overall record than the other division's third-place team. In 2008, this meant the Edmonton Eskimos got the third-place spot in the Eastern Division; however, Winnipeg retained home-field advantage for the Eastern semi-final even though Edmonton had a better win-loss record.


Grey Cup playoffs

The Calgary Stampeders were the 2008 Grey Cup champions, defeating the Montreal Alouettes 22–14 at Montreal's Olympic Stadiummarker. It was the first Grey Cup for the Stampeders since the 2001 Championship (a game also held in Montreal). Stampeder quarterback Henry Burris was named the Grey Cup Most Valuable Player, and kicker Sandro DeAngelis was named the Grey Cup Most Valuable Canadian.

Playoff bracket

2008 CFL All-Stars

Offence



Defence



Special Teams



2008 Western All-Stars

Offence



Defence



Special teams



2008 Eastern All-Stars

Offence



Defence



Special teams



2008 CFLPA Pro Player All-Stars

Offence





Defence




Special Teams

Head Coach




2008 CFL Awards



References

Further reading




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