The Grey Cup is both the name of the championship of the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the name of the trophy awarded to the victorious team. It is Canada's largest annual sports and television event, regularly drawing a Canadian viewing audience of about 3 to 4 million individuals. In 2009 the 97th Grey Cup competition between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Montreal Allouettes drew the largest TV audience in Grey Cup history with 6.4 million viewers. The 98th Grey Cup, played November 29th, 2010, is second in Grey Cup history with 6.25 million viewers.
The award was founded and the trophy commissioned by Governor General of Canada the Earl Grey. Like the Stanley Cup (also formed by a former governor general and used in the National Hockey League), the Grey Cup is reused every year. This varies from other professional sports leagues, which make a new but identical trophy every season for the new champion. Similarly, the Grey Cup also has the name of the winning players, coaches, and management staff (President and General Manager) engraved on its chalice.
In 1909, the Grey Cup was donated by the then Governor General of Canada, the Earl Grey, to recognize the top amateur rugby football team in Canada. By this time, Canadian football had become markedly different from the rugby football from which it developed. Over time, the Grey Cup became the property of the Canadian Football League as it evolved into a professional football league. Amateur teams ceased competing for the Cup by 1954; since 1965, the top amateur teams, playing in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), have competed for the Vanier Cup.
The Grey Cup has long served as an unofficial Canadian fall festival generating a large amount of national media coverage, celebration and fan interest across Canada. Many fans travel from across the country to partake in the week of festivities that lead up to the game. Historians date the carnival-like activities associated with the game back to 1948, when fans of the western champion Calgary Stampeders dressed in western gear, square danced, flipped flapjacks, partied in the streets of Toronto and rode a horse through the lobby of the posh Royal York Hotel.
With the addition of American-based teams beginning in 1993, the possibility of the Grey Cup being hoisted by a team south of the Canada – United States border loomed large. In 1994, the Baltimore Stallions (as they were referred to then because of an injunction issued on the behalf of the NFL to prevent this team from using the Colts name) played in the Grey Cup in Vancouver against the home B.C. Lions. A late fumble on the goal line by Baltimore quarterback Tracy Ham gave the B.C. Lions a chance and Lui Passaglia connected on a game-winning FG as time expired, driving the sellout crowd at BC Place into a nationalist frenzy. This patriotic nationalism would be tested further in 1995 when the Baltimore Stallions returned to the Grey Cup against the favoured Calgary Stampeders, led by Doug Flutie. Baltimore won the game 37–20 and took the Grey Cup south for a bittersweet parade as Art Modell, owner of the NFL Cleveland Browns, announced his move to Baltimore for the 1996 season only one week before the Grey Cup. After the 1995 season, American-based teams, many of whom were running into financial problems, folded. Only the Baltimore franchise remained and it relocated to Montreal.
The Grey Cup has been broken several times. The trophy was broken in 1978 when Tom Wilkinson and Danny Kepley dropped it, and in 1987 when a celebrating Edmonton Eskimos player sat on it. It was again broken in 1993 when it was head-butted by Edmonton's Blake Dermott. During the victory celebration immediately following the 94th Grey Cup game in 2006, the winning BC Lions accidentally broke the cup from its base, which contains the engraved names of the players on each year's winning team. It was repaired the following Monday. Other notable events include a 1947 fire which almost destroyed the trophy and a 1969 theft in which the trophy was held for ransom. A replica cup was made in 2008.
In November 2006, the CFL confirmed that they were entertaining offers from corporate partners for the naming rights of the Grey Cup. Though the naming rights would apply to the Grey Cup championship game and not the trophy itself, many objected to the idea, claiming that the league should not compromise a national historic treasure for short-term profit.
From 1909 to 1916, and from 1920 until 1987, only the winning team and year was engraved on the Grey Cup. Somehow the 1908 Canadian Rugby Football Champions Hamilton Tigers ended up on the Grey Cup, but the cup was first awarded in 1909. (The 1908 Tigers team was later removed). After the 1987 season, the Grey Cup was redone. Team members' names were added to the Grey Cup for each winning team dating back to 1909, with room added for 20 more winning teams. The last space was filled by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2007. Starting in 2008, new plates were added the base of the cup, until after 100th Grey Cup in 2012. No decision has been made on how the cup will look after 2013.
Each Grey Cup winning team has the year and team name listed first. This is followed by the President, General Manager and Head Coach. Every player from winning team, who was dressed in the Grey Cup Final, is listed last in alphabetical order. Any player who was not dressed in the Grey Cup game, has been omitted from being listed on the Grey Cup. This includes any player who missed the Grey Cup Final due to injuries. Some injured players were All-Stars that season or nominated or won Individual Awards. However, there has been no deviation from the rule. All other non-playing members are also left off the Grey Cup. Winning teams still award Grey Cup rings to all winning members even if their name does not appear on the Grey Cup. In 2006, the Toronto Argonauts asked to have the names of late Co-owner-Actor John Candy, and Co-Owner-hockey great Wayne Gretzky added to the 1991 Toronto Argonauts Grey Cup team. The CFL said yes, but it is not common practice by the CFL to add missing names years after being engraved.
- Main article: List of Grey Cup broadcasters
First broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 1952, for many years the Grey Cup has been the largest television event in Canada, regularly drawing a combined Canadian viewing audience in excess of 4 million on the CBC (over-the-air, in English) and RDS (cable, in French). Starting in 2008, cable network The Sports Network (TSN) has been the exclusive provider of the Grey Cup for English viewers while RDS has remained the provider for the French broadcast.
From 1962 through 1986, CBC and CTV simulcast the Grey Cup. In 1962, 1965, 1967, 1968 and 1970, CTV commentators were used for the dual network telecast, while in 1963, 1964, 1966 and 1969, CBC announcers were provided. From 1971 through 1986, one network's crew called the first half while the other called the rest of the game. After the 1986 season, CTV dropped their coverage of the CFL and the Grey Cup. From 1987 through 1990, the CFL operated its own syndicated network, CFN. CFN had completely separate coverage of the Grey Cup, utilizing its own production and commentators.
In the United States, the 1992 and 1993 games were on SportsChannel America, while ESPN2 televised the game from 1994 to 1997. Prior to 1992, FNN-SCORE carried the game. The America One television network, and its affiliates including SportsNet New York, Comcast SportsNet and NESN, carried the Grey Cup through 2009. American sports network Versus carried the 2008 game. ESPN, which owns 20% of TSN, carried the 2009 game on its ESPN360 broadband service. The 2010 and 2011 games were carried on NFL Network.
The Grey Cup game is the centre of a larger week of festivities put on by the host cities, including concerts, gala events, and autograph sessions. Also an important part of the event is the halftime show which in recent years has included some major Canadian and international musical acts.
- Main article: List of Grey Cup champions
The BC Lions are the defending Grey Cup champions, having won their 6th title in 2011. The team with the most Grey Cup appearances is the Winnipeg Blue Bombers with 24, most recently a loss in 2011. The Toronto Argonauts have won the most cups, 15, most recently in 2004. The Saskatchewan Roughriders have won the fewest, 3. Their last was in 2007, and they have lost the most cup games with 15, most recently in 2010. Of the current teams, the BC Lions have appeared in the fewest with 10 and lost the fewest with 4.
Host cities and stadiums
Olympic Stadium in Montreal holds the top four records for attendance at the Grey Cup. The highest was 68,318 in 1977. Toronto is the city that has hosted the most Grey Cup games, with 45, most recently at the Rogers Centre in 2007. Regina has hosted the fewest, only two, in 1995 and 2003. No team has won a Grey Cup in all nine of the classic CFL cities, nor has any team even appeared in a Grey Cup in all nine cities. Of the classic nine teams, each has won a Grey Cup in both Toronto and Vancouver. The only one to never play in a Grey Cup at Varsity Stadium was the BC Lions. CNE Stadium is the only stadium at which all nine classic teams played at least one Grey Cup. The Toronto Argonauts have won the Grey Cup in 6 of the classic cities, but different cities if Sarnia is included. The Edmonton Eskimos have played at least one cup final in 8 cities, excluding only Winnipeg. Calgary, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg have each played a cup final in 7 different cities and are the only teams to have never played a cup final held in their own city.
|45||Toronto||Rogers Centre 3, CNE Stadium 12, Varsity Stadium 29, Rosedale Field 1.|
|15||Vancouver||BC Place Stadium 8, Empire Stadium 7.|
|10||Hamilton||Ivor Wynne Stadium 5, Hamilton AAA Grounds 5.|
|8||Montreal||Olympic Stadium 6, Autostade 1, Molson Stadium 1.|
|6||Ottawa||Frank Clair Stadium 6.|
|5||Calgary||McMahon Stadium 5.|
|4||Edmonton||Commonwealth Stadium 4.|
|3||Winnipeg||Canad Inns Stadium 3.|
|2||Regina||Taylor Field 2.|
Team scoring records
Most points both teams: 83
- 77th Grey Cup Saskatchewan 43 – Hamilton 40
Fewest points both teams: 7
- 21st Grey Cup Toronto 4 – Sarnia 3
- 25th Grey Cup Toronto 4 – Winnipeg 3
Most points winning team: 54
- 11th Grey Cup Queen's University
Fewest points winning team: 4
- 21st and 25th Grey Cup Toronto
Most points losing team: 40
- 77th Grey Cup Hamilton
Fewest points losing team: 0
- 9th Grey Cup Edmonton,
- 11th, 16th and 19th Regina,
- 16th and 38th Winnipeg
Widest margin of victory: 54
- 11th Grey Cup Queen's University 54 – Regina Rugby Club 0
- Houston, William (December 20, 2006). Cup moves to TSN in new deal. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved on 2007-06-07.
- William Houston (2006-11-20). Minor rise in Grey Cup ratings good for CBC. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved on 2006-12-03.
- CBC News (November 20, 2006). Welder didn't fumble chance at Grey Cup. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 2007-11-01. Retrieved on 2007-06-07.
- Watts, Richard. "Engraver fashions copy of Cup", Times Colonist, 2008-08-02. Retrieved on 2008-10-29.
- Paraskevas, Joe (November 16, 2006). CFL may sell naming rights to Grey Cup. CanWest News Service. Retrieved on 2007-06-07.
- Cox, Damien (March 29, 2007). CFL anoints new commish. Toronto Star. Retrieved on 2007-06-07.
- Canadian Football League Hall of FameTemplate:Nonspecific
- CFL.ca Network :: Official site of the Canadian Football League. Retrieved on 2007-11-13.
- Kelly, Graham (2005), Greatest Grey Cups: The Best of Canadian Football, Altitude Pub. Canada, Template:ISBN, http://books.google.ca/books?id=WULgOBbDvrQC&lpg=PA28&dq=Grey%20Cup&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=true