One Big Blue bust

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:54 PM ET

The folks at Oxford define the word “bust” as follows: a sudden failure; a worthless thing.

There isn’t a photo of receiver Jabari Arthur accompanying the definition, but there could be.

Arthur, who was either the next Joe Poplawski or the next Gerald Wilcox, depending on your era of choice, was the big and allegedly gifted Canadian the Bombers picked up in a trade with Calgary last season.

A trade that perfectly encapsulates everything that was wrong with the Mike Kelly reign of error.

The former Bomber head coach, trying to ram a useless playbook down the throats of his players, got so fed up with people not “buying in” that he finally shipped receivers Romby Bryant and Arjei Franklin off to Calgary.

Bryant, an import, was a blossoming star, Franklin an emerging Canadian and potential ratio-breaker.

In return, the Bombers got Arthur and Titus Ryan, both receivers, plus defensive end Odell Willis.

To recap: Ryan is long gone on an NFL tryout, Willis has shown potential and a propensity to jump offside and Arthur was cut, outright, Monday, after showing an innate ability to: a) be injured and b) drop the ball.

The next Poplawski? Not quite. The next Randy Bowles, maybe.

Meanwhile, in Calgary, Bryant and Franklin have combined for 18 catches in the first two games of the season.

This is one trade that didn’t have to happen.

And it’s going to look bad for a very long time.

WELCOME BACK: It seems like yesterday Marcus Howell was a wide-eyed rookie trying out for, and making it with, his hometown Blue Bombers.

Ten years later, the kid from St. James is back to close out his career, and I can’t think of a more fitting way for him to go out.

This is not just a token re-signing, though, with Howell pulling the jersey on for a press conference, then riding off into the sunset.

The former Stampeder, unwanted in Calgary and unofficially “retired,” is expected to contribute, which either tells us he knows how to take care of himself or the Bombers’ special teams are even worse than we thought.

Actually, Howell is one of those natural athletes who can probably coax another year or two from those 35-year-old legs. Having him return kickoffs immediately would give the Bomber return game a veteran presence with plenty of CFL know-how.

Seeing his smiling face at practice every day can’t hurt, either.

THE LAST DROP: And, finally, some closing thoughts on Jonathan Toews’ two-day Stanley Cup party, which came to a close Monday.

There’s one image from Sunday’s parade and reception at the newly-minted Jonathan Toews Community Centre that stands out for me, and that tells you all you need to know about St. Vital’s favourite son.

A boy, maybe 10 years old, had waited in line for hours, only to have something go wrong during his attempt at taking a photo with his hero.

The kid was in tears, his moment shattered.

But the Chicago Blackhawks captain, no doubt exhausted from signing a gazillion autographs and posing for just as many pictures, went out of his way to salvage it, reaching out to console the lad and giving him all kinds of time to compose himself for a second try.

The result: the kid walked home with a smile on his face, chatting over a cell phone about the great picture he got.

Nicely done, J.T..

Can a man described as the ultimate role model keep it up as the years, and the money, pile up?

“So far, so good,” one fan told me. “But so was Tiger Woods for a while, there, right?”

With cynicism like that out there, who needs sportswriters anymore?

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.


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