Grey Cup helmet hex? Hamilton Tiger-Cats part of the unlucky bucket list


Published December 9, 2021 at 7:28 pm

Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Dane Evans (9) looks downfield for a receiver. (Peter Power/CP)

Professional sports teams often wear the colour black to appear more intimidating, but it has not played out the way in recent Grey Cup games.

As it turns out, a bit of a helmet hex has been happening in Canada’s pro football championship, and the hometown Hamilton Tiger-Cats are part of it. The losing team in the last eight Grey Cups have worn black helmets — which, of course, the Tiger-Cats will sport when they host the favoured Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Tim Hortons Field. As the eastern representative, the Tiger-Cats are considered the home team and, of course, the black helmet with the gold tiger decals has been part of their look since 1986.

The run started with the Calgary Stampeders, who often wear black helmets with their white away jerseys, losing in the 2012 Grey Cup. It continued with Hamilton’s defeats the next two seasons. That included the heartbreaker against red-hatted Calgary in 2014, where a Hamilton penalty took Brandon Banks’ late go-ahead punt-return touchdown off the scoreboard, and took out a winded Banks.

In 2015, the Ottawa Redblacks, whose regular away uniforms at that time included a white helmet, opted to switch to black helmets for the city’s first Grey Cup appearance in 34 seasons. They lost, with a 42-yard pass-interference penalty helping Edmonton get in range for the winning touchdown.

Calgary repped the West Division for the next three seasons. The 2016 Stampeders lost the Grey Cup against the Redblacks — after going in as the 10-point favourite. Ottawa was wearing its regular all-black getup, so the black-lidded teams are 1-8 since 2012.

A season later, Calgary also journeyed east as heavy favourite, this time against the Toronto Argonauts. On a snowy field, the Stampeders weres poised to ice the win with a touchdown when receiver Kamar Jorden fumbled near the Argonauts’ goal line. Toronto defensive back Cassius Vaughn recovered the ball and scored on a Grey Cup-record 109-yard fumble return, flipping the momentum. Toronto won 27-24, after a game-tying two-point convert from
McMaster grad Declan Cross and a late field goal by St. Catharines native Lirim Hajrullahu.

Calgary wore red for a rematch with Ottawa in 2018, and won that with little difficulty. And, of course, no Tiger-Cats fan needs any reminder of the 2019 contest against the Blue Bombers.

Winnipeg is listed as a three-point favourite in most sportsbooks.

The Blue Bombers, who have ex-Ticats quarterback Zach Collaros behind centre, also have a trend to buck. Since 2011, the winning team has hailed from the region where the Grey Cup was staged.

The last team to come away victorious after a cross-country flight was the 2010 Montreal Alouettes, who defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Edmonton, in a rematch of the ’09 championship. That is also the last time any team repeated in the CFL, which is what Winnipeg is vying to do and what the Dane Evans-quarterbacked Tiger-Cats are trying to thwart.

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