If only I had got a nickel for every time a coach or player who said they don’t read the sports pages or listen to the radio or watch TV.
Yet they all seemed to know what people were saying about them.
Personal advice to Cody Fajardo, like he really needs more: “You gotta stay off social media, man!”
As much as you would like like to stay in touch with the fans, it will only eat you up.
Yes there are far more good fans than bad in Rider nation, but the evil minority are capable of being the only ones heard.
Those are the ones who live to vent their dumb opinions to the world, especially those who can hide in anonymity.
Can you imagine if Twitter existed in the Ron Lancaster era?
In 16 seasons with the Roughriders, the Little General threw more interceptions than touchdowns. Yes the man with the statue in front of the stadium only had three seasons out of sixteen with more touchdowns than picks.
He was booed on the field, he would have been skewered on fan forums off of it.
It didn’t matter to some that Lancaster threw for close to 50,000 yards and led the Roughriders to the playoffs 14 consecutive years.
Kent Austin, the player, wanted out of Saskatchewan because his wife was verbally abused in the stands. But he came back years later to coach the team because he remembered the good people more than the bad ones.
Austin is the only person to win a Grey Cup as a player and a head coach with the Roughriders.
Darian Durant, another member of the Rider royalty club, was criticized relentlessly during his time in Saskatchewan.
He, too, was immortalized with a stadium-sized banner, but for some he still wasn’t good enough.
He is one of only four Rider quarterbacks to win a Grey Cup, and the only one to win it at Taylor Field, a.k.a. the old Mosaic Stadium.
So what has Fajardo done to deserve the wrath of the fans?
Well, for one thing, it comes with the job.
There have been many seasons when the backup QB was the most popular guy in town.
Some sports fans are just not happy unless they can complain about something or someone, and most years in Saskatchewan that person is the premier or the quarterback of the Roughriders.
All Cody has done in his three seasons as a Rider is lead the team to three straight playoff campaigns, twice to the Western Final.
What sets Cody apart from most is that he actually cares, which was obvious on Monday during his sit-down with the media.
He was asked what it was like to be the quarterback of the Roughriders and that was all it took.
The emotions came rushing out and unfortunately all he could remember at that point were the dark days of this season.
It was a pandemic-shortened season with COVID protocols in place preventing him from seeing his family as much as he wanted to and needed to.
In Cody’s words, the team was winning but still some fans wanted his head.
I have covered nearly four decades of quarterbacks for the Roughriders and I can tell you with absolute certainty Cody is one of a only a handful who truly wants to be here.
He admits to not being the most talented quarterback but his heart makes up for a lot.
We’ve seen it before in 2013 when Durant placed the team on his shoulders and led them to a championship.
Cody is capable of doing the same if he can ignore the dark side.
Unfortunately, in Saskatchewan you have to see the absolute worst in people before you see the best.
Just ask Vuong Pham, the owner of a doughnut, soup and sandwich shop in Regina, whose place was recently targetted with racial slurs and bricks through his windows.
What followed was a massive outpouring of support just as Fajardo is seeing now.
Did Dr. Saqib Shahab, the man who has dedicated his life for the last several months to get this province through the pandemic, deserve protesters and anti-vaxxers in front of his house?
There was a parade in his honour shortly after.
If there’s any justice in the football world, Cody Fajardo will have a parade too one day, and he will be standing next to the Grey Cup.
In a perfect world, that would be next year when Saskatchewan hosts another Grey Cup event.
If anyone deserves it he does, and the organization and the province should feel fortunate to have him.