Updated Aug. 13.
Canadian Mintmaster Marie Lemay joined Ottawa Redblacks players and management earlier this month to lay a lucky coin beneath the team’s home turf.
The third Canadian Football League (CFL) team to play in Ottawa, the Redblacks franchise kicked off its first season in 2014. But first, a 1976 silver dollar was placed beneath the turf to commemorate the last Ottawa team, the Rough Riders, which won the Grey Cup in 1976.
One of the oldest and longest-lived professional sports teams in North America, the Rough Riders formed in 1876 and played in various leagues before becoming a founding member of the CFL in 1958. The team played until 1996, when the franchise was folded after decades of underperformance.
A second Ottawa franchise – the Renegades – was formed in 2002 but only played until the end of the 2005 CFL season.
The Redblacks joined the league in 2014 and made it to the Grey Cup in 2015, 2016 – when the team won the championship after a 40-year drought – and 2018. The team’s success was tied to the 1976 silver dollar—a tradition that echoes the “lucky loonie” frozen into the ice at the 2002 Winter Olympics, where Canada’s men’s and women’s hockey teams both won gold.
This year, team officials decided to add another silver dollar, this one dated 2016 to mark that year’s Grey Cup victory.
The proof Fine silver dollar commemorates the 150th anniversary of the transatlantic cable.
Lemay, who has served as the Royal Canadian Mint’s president and CEO since February 2019, presented the coin to Redblacks General Manager Marcel Desjardins.
He then handed off the coin to Redblacks safety Antoine Pruneau, a member of the Grey Cup-winning team, to place beneath centre field.
2020 CFL SEASON
Despite the lucky coin, the 2020 CFL season remains up in the air due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Based on where the calendar sits right now, it’s believed a six-game regular season couldn’t begin before late September,” TSN reported on Aug. 11. “That would mean getting players into the bubble early in the month for a seven-day quarantine and 10-day training camp before beginning a season and playoffs that would likely wrap up in late November.”
League officials are awaiting confirmation of financial assistance from the federal government before making a decision about the upcoming season.
Meanwhile, some players are considering opting out of the potential season due to health concerns about the pandemic.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ all-star defensive back Delvin Breaux and receiver Brandon Banks – the CFL’s outstanding player in 2019 – have both announced they won’t play this fall.