So much for the idea Jesse Lumsden wanted to play football again.
Because his decision to spurn the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in order to pursue a deal with the Calgary Stampeders can’t have much to do with actually playing.
Getting a playoff cheque and, potentially, a Grey Cup ring, maybe. Being able to continue training with the Calgary-based national bobsleigh team, sure.
But actually lugging the football again for the first time since tearing up his shoulder in the first game of 2009? Hardly.
It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon, or even Jesse’s dad/agent Neil, to see that signing in Winnipeg would have greatly increased the kid’s chances of getting on the field.
The Bombers, at 3-7, need help. The 9-1 Stamps just need to keep from nodding off, as they run away with first place in the West.
Here in Winnipeg, Lumsden would have dressed as the only real backup to spider legs Fred Reid, leaving him one ankle tweak away from getting the ball. At the very least, he’d get a series or two per game if Reid needed to catch his breath.
In Calgary, Lumsden would be behind starter Joffrey Reynolds and highly regarded Canadian Jon Cornish, relegated to special teams duty.
So this decision smacks of things other than football. Which is fine.
I don’t think Bomber fans should be miffed about it, either.
Lumsden’s been as brittle as fine crystal over his CFL career. This guy makes Buck Pierce look sturdy. With shoulders like that, he should be the team chaplain, not a running back.
Sure, the hit by Winnipeg’s Siddeeq Shabazz that knocked Lumsden out a year ago was solid. But it was the kind of hit running backs not named Charles Roberts take a few times every year.
A straight-ahead runner like Lumsden, breakaway speed or not, has to be tough enough to absorb full-on contact. Lumsden isn’t.
It’s not his fault. It’s just the way he’s put together.
A rare, 6-foot-2, 226-pound combination of speed and Canadian heritage, Lumsden runs a lot like Joffrey Reynolds, but takes a hit like Debbie.
That makes him a gamble for any CFL team. Which is why nobody would touch the guy through the first half of the season.
The Bombers, short on Canadian talent and watching their record fall to 2-7, became interested. Lumsden would be an instant upgrade at, presumably, a reasonable price.
Assistant GM Ross Hodgkinson said from the beginning he wouldn’t get into a bidding war, and why would he? Nobody else was bidding.
As soon as Lumsden started talking to the Bombers, though, it seems other teams were in the picture, after all.
Maybe he and his dad were using Winnipeg to drum up interest elsewhere, who knows? You can’t fault them for that. That’s what pro athletes and their agents do.
Even Thursday, after Lumsden said thanks, but no thanks, to the Winnipeg offer, Hodgkinson didn’t think money was the issue.
Calgary’s location, in the standings and in the country, may have been.
As for the Bombers, they still need some insurance behind Reid. It’s hard to believe this team goes into every game without a true backup plan at running back.
That’s going to bite them, eventually. And, no, their Canadian talent isn’t quite up to snuff, either.
But the fragile running back with the gaudy 6.3-yard career average might be the best thing that never happened to this team.
So long, Jesse, we hardly knew ya.