The news that Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo had been benched ahead of the two most important games of the season spread like wildfire across the province.
With only two games left in the season and the Riders fighting for a playoff birth, it comes as a shock for many fans that Mason Fine would be getting his first career start.
“I don’t think it’s the end of the Cody Fajardo football book, but it might just be the end of a chapter,” Fajardo said at practice after the news broke.
“Yeah I was upset and I was frustrated. I just felt like we have a good opportunity still and were not quite out of it.”
Riders head coach Craig Dickenson said the move was made because he feels the team needs a spark before facing the Calgary Stampeders for the first time this season.
“Cody is a warrior and he wants to play but he understands,” Dickenson said. “He said, ‘If you want me to be the backup, I’ll be the best I can possibly be.’”
Over the last nine games the Riders are only 2-7 and Fajardo’s play this season has been nothing to write home about, especially after back-to-back seasons where the team made the Western final.
“He had the whole province in love with him in 2019, and in love with this team,” said Rob Vanstone, a long-time reporter for the Riders at the Regina Leader Post. “Nobody saw that coming. It was a storybook year for the Roughriders and Cody Fajardo.”
The decision to move off the “franchise” quarterback with only two games left came as a shock for Vanstone.
“I didn’t see this one coming and I don’t think a lot of people did”
The news has led to speculation from many that not only is Fajardo being benched, but likely done as a Rider for good.
While not the storybook season the Riders had in 2019, the team is not yet mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
The Riders need to win both their remaining games, and have the Hamilton Tiger-Cats lose at least one of their final two games to get in.
CFL.CA’s simulation bot has the Riders chance to make the playoffs at a measly 3 percent.
The Riders will need a bit of a miracle if they want to make it to the Grey Cup in their own stadium, but unlike in 2019 it won’t be on the back of Cody Fajardo.
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