Meet Canada’s ‘other’ standout wide receiver


This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

Here’s what you need to know right now from the world of sports:

There’s another Canadian receiver you should know about

Chase Claypool won’t be playing this weekend as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ scheduled opponent, the Baltimore Ravens, continue to struggle with a coronavirus outbreak. At least a dozen Baltimore players have tested positive this week, including reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson. The game was first bumped from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon to give Baltimore a chance to get things under control, and today it was pushed to Tuesday.

So Claypool will have to wait a bit to add to his 10 touchdowns — the most ever by an NFL rookie receiver through his first 10 games — for the 10-0 Steelers. But there’s another impressive Canadian receiver who’s helped a storied football team go undefeated heading into a big game this weekend, and you might be hearing more from him over the coming weeks.

John Metchie III is a second-year player for the University of Alabama, which has won more U.S. college football national championships than anyone else in the modern era. They fell short the last two years, but the Crimson Tide won five of the previous nine titles. And they’re back on top of the national rankings right now with a 7-0 record.

Metchie is an important part of the team. When third-year star Jaylen Waddle went down with a season-ending ankle injury a month ago, the Canadian became Alabama’s No. 2 receiver. In seven games this year, Metchie has 25 catches for 535 yards and four touchdowns. The bulk of his production came in two monster performances: a seven-catch, 151-yard game vs. Tennessee on Oct. 24 (after Waddle was injured on the opening kickoff) and a five-catch, 181-yard, two-touchdown explosion on Oct. 3 vs. Texas A&M, which is now ranked fifth in the country.

Metchie and the Crimson Tide play one of their biggest games of the year on Saturday — the annual Iron Bowl vs. intrastate rival Auburn. The Tigers are 5-2 and ranked 22nd, and Alabama is expected to be without star head coach Nick Saban after he tested positive for the coronavirus. But the Tide should win easily. They’re hosting the game and are favoured by 24.5 points.

Next up could be Alabama’s showdown with defending national champion LSU, which was postponed from Nov. 15 because several LSU players tested positive. The only other regular-season game left for Alabama is against lightweight Arkansas. If the Tide run the table, they should retain the top seed for the four-team College Football Playoff. The semifinals are on New Year’s Day and the championship game is Jan. 11. Those games draw massive attention and TV audiences in the U.S., so Metchie might soon find himself playing a prominent role on one of North American sports’ biggest stages.

Due to the pandemic, the Dome isn’t going anywhere for a while. (Trevor Lyons/Radio-Canada)

The Blue Jays are looking into getting rid of the Dome

The third-worst stadium in baseball (behind Tampa Bay’s and Oakland’s) has been obsolete almost since the moment it was completed. Billed as a futuristic marvel for its opening in 1989, the retractable-roof SkyDome (as it was then known, and is still called by many) was doomed when Baltimore broke ground on Camden Yards that same year. Once baseball fans got a glimpse of that jewel and the old warehouse out past right-field, the retro ballpark craze was on and multipurpose stadiums (especially domed ones) instantly became passé.

Now named for the corporate giant that owns it and the Toronto Blue Jays, the Dome is three decades old and, despite some recent renovations, still among the most charmless venues in sports. Some fans appreciate the rain-or-shine certainty of the retractable roof, and some will insist that it’s “not bad” when the lid is open on a nice day. But as you look through those rose-coloured glasses, you’re still sitting in a massive concrete bowl that cuts off any view of — or breeze from — nearby Lake Ontario.

But the Dome has three things going for it: location, location, location. It’s right in the downtown core and just a very short walk from Toronto’s main transit station, which connects the city’s two main subway lines and the various trains serving the suburbs. The spot is simply too good to give up.

Hence, today’s report by the Globe and Mail that the Jays’ owners have explored the possibility of tearing down the Dome and building a new, smaller, natural-grass, privately financed stadium on its footprint. This would take years and would require the approval of, among others, the federal government, which owns the land. The current stadium has belonged to Rogers Communications, which also owns the Jays, since the company bought it for $25 million in 2004 (it cost close to $600 million, much of that taxpayers’ money, to build). It’s also unclear where the Jays would play during construction.

A company spokesperson confirmed that it was exploring stadium options, but said that the process has been on hold since the pandemic hit. So, bottom line: the Dome isn’t going anywhere for a while.

Quickly…

Former Olympic stars Mark Tewksbury, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were among the 114 people named to the Order of Canada. Virtue and Moir won Olympic ice-dance gold in 2010 in Vancouver and 2018 in South Korea, and captured three world titles. Tewksbury swam to a surprise gold in the 100-metre backstroke at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. He came out publicly a few years later and has advocated for LGBTQ rights while remaining involved with the Canadian Olympic team. Read more about these three athletes and the other Order of Canada inductees with sports ties here.

Mike Tyson is fighting on Saturday. Fifteen years after his last pro bout, the 54-year-old ex-heavyweight champ is stepping back in the ring for what amounts to a stunt match against fellow boxing great Roy Jones Jr., who’s 51. To make it easier on the old-timers, there will be only eight two-minute rounds (instead of the standard 12 three-minute rounds), they’ll wear bigger gloves and the fight will be stopped if anyone gets cut. It’s only being offered on pay-per-view, so buyer beware.

And finally…

Happy 35th anniversary to one of the most iconic sports movies of all time. In terms of cinematic achievement, it ain’t exactly Raging Bull. But, pound for pound, Rocky IV — released in Canada and throughout the U.S. on Nov. 27, 1985 — is probably the most entertaining boxing movie ever made. Sure, it’s corny. And, yeah, it’s essentially a string of training and fight montages wrapped in a paper-thin script. But the Cold War classic remains endlessly rewatchable for anyone craving a trip back to a simpler, less serious time. Honestly, for pure sugary enjoyment, it doesn’t get much better than the final fight montageTo the end.

This weekend on CBC Sports

Here are the main things being streamed on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app or broadcast on the CBC TV network.

Grand Prix of Figure Skating — NHK Trophy: The Japan stop is potentially the last Grand Prix event of the year because the Final (originally set for mid-December in Beijing) was postponed indefinitely. Due to pandemic-related restrictions, all but one of the skaters competing in Osaka are from Japan (and, once again, there are no Canadians). Also, there’s no pairs event. Stream the final programs in the women’s, dance and men’s competitions live Saturday starting at 1:25 a.m. ET here.

World Cup bobsleigh: This week’s women’s race goes Saturday at 3 a.m. ET in Latvia, followed by a two-man at 8 a.m. ET. A second two-man race is Sunday at 8 a.m. ET. Stream them all live here.

World Cup luge: The season opens in Austria with a men’s race Saturday at 3 a.m. ET and a doubles at 6:40 a.m. ET. On Sunday there’s a women’s race at 3 a.m. ET and a team relay at 6:25 a.m. ET. Following that are Sprint World Cup races. Stream them all live here.

Road to the Olympic Games: This week’s show features a replay of the International Swimming League final and World Cup skeleton and bobsleigh races. Watch Saturday on CBC TV (check local listings for times).

Spelling Bee of Canada Championship: S-T-R-E-A-M it live Sunday at noon ET here.

You’re up to speed. Get The Buzzer in your inbox every weekday by subscribing below.

Read more at CBC.ca