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Edmonton Elks Till I Die, Which Given Their Play Will Be Shortly

REGINA, CANADA - JULY 6: Tomas Jack-Kurdyla #64 of the Edmonton Elks on the sideline before the game between the Edmonton Elks and Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium on July 6, 2023 in Regina, Canada. (Photo by Brent Just/Getty Images)
Brent Just/Getty Images

Sometimes you don't adopt a team as much as it adopts you—or in some extreme cases, perhaps “absconds” is the better verb.

So yes, we're back on the Canadian Football League's Edmonton Elks, the team that hates its own fans and keeps proving it in new and more Coltsian ways. They haven't won a home game in 22 attempts over four years, and the latest of these was the sort of thing one comes to expect from … well, if you don't like the Indianapolis analogy, maybe you'd prefer that the Elks are turning into the Chargers of the North.

This time they managed to blow a 22-0 lead to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers despite driving the Bombers' starting quarterback, Zach Collaros, from the game during a pick-six that put the Deerlike Creatures ahead by three touchdowns. This was surely to be the breakthrough moment, and then seasoned observers remembered this and this, and the Elks collapsed because, according to third-starting-QB-this-year Tre Ford, they weren't sufficiently bold in the face of potential success. “I wish we were a little bit more aggressive still earlier in the first half. I know we got up by a lot, and we were pretty conservative. … I just wish we could have left the foot on the pedal a little bit.”

But his explanation runs in the face of head coach/GM Chris Jones's frustrated analysis.

“We have two penalties and zero turnovers in the first half, and then we turn around and have eight penalties and two turnovers in the second half and give them momentum," Jones said. "We couldn't regain momentum because we were too busy trying to give the game away in the second half."

Aha! We have an explanation that makes sense! They're not on the same page! They were too conservative because they were too busy trying to blow the lead! You can't try to win by a lot and try to lose simultaneously. Jeff Saturday and Brandon Staley tried and failed last year because of the central truth that eventually you have to pick a side.

This, then, is why the Elks are 2023's Official Team Of Defector.com in the same way that Saturday will be our Coach of the Year (unless Comrade Segel has her way and it's Vlatko Andonovski). It's not that they can't win, or that they can’t win at home, and it's not that Elks beat writer Dan Barnes thinks the only silver lining left for fans is that Tre Ford is Canadian. It's that the Elks' only remaining challenge is losing home games that surely can't be lost, and they are winning at that. We salute them. Losing is a hard thing, but losing artfully is the hardest thing of all.

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