|Based in||Ottawa, Ontario, Canada|
|Home field||TD Place Stadium|
|Head coach||Rick Campbell|
|General manager||Marcel Desjardins|
|Owner(s)||Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group|
|League||Canadian Football League|
Red, black, white|
|Mascot(s)||Big Joe/Grand Jos|
|Grey Cup wins||1 (2016)|
The Ottawa Redblacks (officially stylized as REDBLACKS) (French: Le Rouge et Noir d'Ottawa) are a professional Canadian football team based in Ottawa, Ontario. The team plays in the East Division of the Canadian Football League (CFL).
Starting play in 2014, the Redblacks are the third CFL team to play in the city of Ottawa. The Ottawa Rough Riders, formed in 1876, were a founding member of the CFL in 1958 and played until 1996. A new Ottawa franchise was formed as the "Renegades" in 2002 and lasted until the end of the 2005 season. The Redblacks won the 2016 Grey Cup Championship, which ended a 40-year Grey Cup championship drought for the City of Ottawa.
The Ottawa Renegades abruptly ceased operations prior to the 2006 CFL season. The league liquidated the Renegades roster in a dispersal draft and placed the Ottawa CFL franchise up for sale, with the intent of eventually returning to the city.
Legislative and construction hurdles
On March 25, 2008, Jeff Hunt, the owner of the Ontario Hockey League's Ottawa 67's spearheaded a group that was awarded a franchise. The team planned to begin play in 2010, but cracks in the concrete structure in the south stands of Frank Clair Stadium led to the demolition of those stands and delayed the start of team operations. The league then set a new date of 2013 for the team's debut, but lawsuits forced the delay of reconstruction of the stadium to be pushed back even further. The team and league then announced plans to play at a remodelled Frank Clair Stadium—now called TD Place Stadium—by 2014 if construction remained on schedule. In 2008, the franchise was conditionally awarded the right to host the 2014 Grey Cup game, but the owners preferred to postpone the game for a few years to give the franchise a better chance to play in the championship game. In any event, after lawsuits and delays, the stadium renovations were not completed until 2014. Hosting the Grey Cup is a condition included in the agreement of franchise ownership. A C$7-million franchise fee was reported to have been paid to the CFL.
Concurrently, Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk had announced plans to bid for a Major League Soccer franchise to play in Ottawa, it being his intention to build a new soccer-specific stadium near the Senators' Scotiabank Place (now Canadian Tire Centre) in support of that plan. Questions arose about the stadium's design in terms of whether or not it could be used by a CFL team in place of the aging Frank Clair Stadium. However, the CFL and MLS groups could not come to any agreement on coordinating their plans. Furthermore, municipal officials questioned whether the city could support both CFL and MLS franchises.
In April 2009, the staff of the City of Ottawa presented a report to city council on the merits of the soccer stadium and Lansdowne Park proposals. The city held public hearings based on the report, which questioned the necessity of the spending but gave a slight edge to the Lansdowne proposal. Councillors attempted to find out whether the SSE group would support sharing their stadium with a planned CFL franchise, but the SSE group rejected such a possibility. Consequently, on April 22, 2009, city council chose the Lansdowne proposal over the SSE proposal as its choice for an outdoor stadium. Negotiations were conducted over the next several months, leading to an August 26 presentation to council so that it could decide the fate of football in Ottawa in the foreseeable future.
On November 12 and 13, council held a public debate to discuss what should be done with the area at Lansdowne Park. Guest speakers included CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon and former Rough Riders Jock Climie and Mark Kosmos, who presented their case as to why the Lansdowne Live group was an important contributor to the city of Ottawa. The following Monday, on November 16, it was reported that council had voted 15–9 in favour of plans to redevelop Lansdowne Park to house a CFL team. The ownership group was given until June 2010 to sort out the details of the redevelopment, with construction set to begin in the spring of 2011.
On June 28, 2010, after a twelve-hour meeting, city council approved the plan to redevelop Lansdowne Park by the same 15–9 vote, all but securing a franchise in the nation's capital. With construction on the stadium scheduled to begin in 2011, the earliest the team would have been able to play was the 2013 under the original time line. However, a failed legal challenge and an Ontario Municipal Board hearing on the Lansdowne Park redevelopment project delayed the start of construction until 2013,[needs update] with completion targeted for the summer of 2015, although there were indications that the stadium could be opened for football as early as 2014. Without a viable stadium, the debut of the team was necessarily pushed back accordingly.
On October 10, 2012, the new franchise cleared its final political hurdle, when a 21–3 vote by Ottawa City Council went in favour of Lansdowne redevelopment. Construction on the north and south side stands was set to begin in October 2012.[needs update]
Laying the foundation (2013)
On January 30, 2013, Marcel Desjardins was named the first general manager in Redblacks history. Desjardins named former Montreal Alouettes scouting director and New York Jets pro scout Brock Sunderland as his assistant GM in late May, 2013. On December 6, 2013, Desjardins hired Rick Campbell as the team's first head coach. Campbell is the son of former Edmonton Eskimos coaching legend Hugh Campbell, who coached the team to five consecutive Grey Cups from 1978 to 1982.
One year before the new Ottawa club hit the field for the 2014 CFL season they were allowed to draft four NCAA junior redshirts (players who would participate in the 2013 NCAA football season) as part of the 2013 CFL Draft. The draft took place May 6, 2013. Ottawa had the last pick in the first 4 rounds of the draft (9, 18, 27, 36 overall selections). They selected Nolan MacMillan from Iowa, Connor Williams from Utah State, Kalonji Kashama from Eastern Michigan and Tyler Digby from Robert Morris.
The 2013 CFL Expansion Draft was a three-round CFL draft held on December 16, 2013 which assigned players from existing CFL teams to the new Ottawa team. The structure of the draft was announced on January 19, 2011, which described one round for selecting import players and two rounds for selecting non-import players. Ottawa selected three players from each of the eight existing teams for a total of 24 players. Ottawa was allowed to select eight import players and 16 non-import players with quarterbacks, kickers and punters eligible within their respective import/non-import categories. Ottawa was permitted to select a maximum of two quarterbacks and one kicker/punter, but not select any two of these three players from the same team. CFL commissioner Mark Cohon was authorized to resolve any dispute related to player eligibility for the Expansion Draft process. The selections were announced live on the CFL's official website on December 16, 2013.
First seasons (2014 to present)
On July 3, 2014, the Ottawa Redblacks played their first regular season game in Winnipeg, against the Blue Bombers, scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions in the opening quarter, but ultimately losing the game 36–28. On July 18, 2014, the Redblacks earned their first regular-season win at their first home opener with a score of 18–17 over the visiting Toronto Argonauts. The Redblacks, like most expansion teams, struggled during the whole season, and finished last in both the East Division and the league with a 2–16 record.
In their second season in the league, the Redblacks brought in significant talent to improve the offence. The result was a greatly improved team that won 8 of its last 10 regular season games, finishing with a record of 12–6 to finish atop the East Division and clinch a first round bye. It was the first regular-season division title for an Ottawa-based team since 1978. On November 22, 2015 the Redblacks defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 35–28 in the East Final to advance to the 103rd Grey Cup. In doing so, they became the first Ottawa CFL team to reach the Grey Cup since the 1981 Rough Riders. They also became the second-youngest team to reach a Grey Cup final, bettered only by the 1995 Baltimore Stallions. In their first ever Grey Cup appearance, the Redblacks lost 26–20 to the Edmonton Eskimos.
The Redblacks struggled during the following season, finishing with an 8–9–1 record. However, the East Division was so weak that season that it was enough to earn the Redblacks their second consecutive division title–and with it, a bye into the East Final. Due to the CFL's crossover playoff format, they faced the Western Division's Edmonton Eskimos, winning 35–23. In the Grey Cup, the Redblacks won the franchise's first championship–and the first for an Ottawa-based team in 40 years–by defeating the heavily favored Calgary Stampeders 39–33 in overtime.
The Redblacks went into the 2017 season with high hopes as defending champions. Despite losing Henry Burris to retirement and key contributiors such as Kienan LaFrance and Ernest Jackson to free agency, the Redblacks finished the season with an identical 8-9-1 record from the season before, which was good enough for second place in the East Division, behind the Toronto Argonauts. The Redblacks struggled with injuries and inconsistent play throughout the course of the season. The Redblacks quest for a second consecutive Grey Cup fell short as the team lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who crossed over to play the Redblacks in the East Division Semi-final.
Initially, Hunt hoped to revive the Rough Riders name. Almost as soon as they won the franchise, Hunt and his group made contact with previous Rough Riders owner Horn Chen regarding the Rough Riders name; they were well aware of Chen's asking price for the Rough Riders' logo and wordmarks. The Rough Riders name still retains popular currency among football fans in Ottawa. The Rough Riders played for 120 years, during which time they played for the Grey Cup 15 times, winning nine. However, in July 2010, the ownership group announced that while they had acquired the Rough Riders intellectual properties—including their trademarks—from Chen, the Rough Riders name would likely not be returning due to the objections of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
On December 6, 2012, the CFL opened voting for the name of the team, up until December 16, 2012, on www.nameourteams.com. It was speculated that the team would be called the Rush, but this was later debunked. The Rush name was nonetheless included in a list of five potential names (Nationals, Voyageurs, Redblacks, and Raftsmen being the others) for the team in a focus group led by the team's owners in January 2013.
On May 30, 2013, the website Sportslogos.net reported that the ownership group had filed copyright protection for the nickname "Redblacks" (and its French equivalent, Rouge et Noir) with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. On June 8, 2013, the team confirmed it would be known as the Ottawa REDBLACKS. On the same day, the Redblacks also revealed their logo–an italicized version of the block "R" that appeared on the Rough Riders' helmets from 1975 to 1991 (with artistic ink traps) surrounded by a red outline inside a black saw blade. The home uniforms were predominantly black, with white numerals and red and white trim. The road uniforms were white, with red numerals and red and black trim.
For record-keeping purposes, the CFL now recognizes all three Ottawa-based clubs that played in the CFL or its predecessors–the Rough Riders (known as the Ottawa Football Club from 1876 to 1898 and the Ottawa Senators from 1926 to 1930), the Renegades and the Redblacks–as "a single entity" dating to 1876, with "two intervals of non-participation (1997-2001 & 2006-2013)."
The Redblacks' main rival is the Montreal Alouettes, who they play every year in the Labour Day Classic. They also have rivalries with the CFL's other Ontario-based teams – the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Toronto Argonauts.
On July 18, 2014, at halftime of the first home game in franchise history, the Redblacks announced that they would be retiring all ten jersey numbers that were previously retired by the Ottawa Rough Riders.
|Ottawa Redblacks retired numbers|
|11||Ron Stewart||RB||1958–1970||1960, 1968, 1969|
|12||Russ Jackson||QB||1958–1969||1960, 1968, 1969|
|26||Whit Tucker||WR||1962–1970||1968, 1969|
|40||Bruno Bitkowski||C/DE||1951–1962||1951, 1960|
|62||Moe Racine||OT/K||1958–1974||1960, 1968, 1969, 1973|
|70||Bobby Simpson||FW/E/DB||1950–1962||1951, 1960|
|71||Gerry Organ||K/P/WR||1971–1983||1973, 1976|
|72||Tony Golab||FW/HB||1939–1941, 1945–1950||1940|
Ottawa Redblacks roster
6-Game injured list
Italics indicate International player
Ottawa Redblacks staff
Special Teams Coaches
Strength and Conditioning
The Redblacks mascot is a lumberjack whose original name, "Big Joe Mufferaw", was revealed by the team on March 28, 2014. The name, which came from online suggestions, was an acknowledgement to the Big Joe Mufferaw folk legend popularized in several works of fiction (most notably by Ottawa native Bernie Bedore) and in songs by Stompin' Tom Connors. After the Redblacks received some criticism for the "Mufferaw" name, the team announced on March 31 that the mascot would go by the name "Big Joe" (or "Grand Jos" in French).
The Ottawa Redblacks Cheer and Dance team is the cheerleading and dance team representing the Redblacks. The team made its debut at the Redblacks' first home game at TD Place Stadium on July 17, 2014.
The team is composed of men and women between the ages of 18 and 35. The Cheer and Dance program has two spirit teams of 25 cheerleaders and 25 dancers. The Cheerleading team is a coed team of athletes from various all-star, varsity, performance and competitive cheerleading backgrounds. During games, the cheerleading team executes stunt routines and acrobatics on the field and on the sidelines. The Dance team is an all-female team of athletes from a variety of dance disciplines. The team also performs on field during game stoppages and participates in pregame activities. The Program Directors are Lisa Aucoin and Kenny Feeley, and the Dance Team's Head Coach is Melany Morrison.
On game days, members of the Cheer and Dance teams participate in “game day cheering/dancing, half time performances, pre game shows, game day promotions”. Members of the Cheerleading and Dance team are involved in various community events, charity functions and corporate appearances in the Ottawa region.
The Ottawa Redblacks Cheer and Dance team offers a Junior Cheerleading program for cheerleaders and dancers between the ages of 6–16. The 4-week cheerleading program includes instruction and coaching by members of the Cheerleading and Dance team.
- Ottawa Redblacks all-time records and statistics
- Ottawa Football Clubs all-time records and statistics
- Canadian football
- Comparison of Canadian and American football
- List of Canadian Football League seasons
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