Big bucks on bench

Blue Bombers quarterback Khari Jones (Sun Media file photo)

Blue Bombers quarterback Khari Jones (Sun Media file photo)

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

Call it the Tale of Two Quarterbacks. Both are former Most Outstanding Player Award winners, both have been out with injuries and both appear ready to get back in the CFL arms race this week.

But neither may get the chance to throw the ball. And if things continue to go as they have, they'll be paid thousands of dollars per game simply to stand and watch as their respective teams drive for the playoffs.

It'll be fascinating to see how the stories of Khari Jones and Dave Dickenson play out over the final weeks of the season.

Jones, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers starter the last four years, was the CFL's most outstanding player in 2001, the first of back-to-back years in which he led the league in passing yards, completions and touchdowns.

Going into this season, the 33-year-old had won more games as a starter than any quarterback in the league the last three years.

SET CFL RECORD

Dickenson was the MOP in 2000, when he set a CFL record for passing efficiency with Calgary. After a stint in the NFL, he returned last year and picked up right where he left off, this time with the Lions.

Dickenson has also set the pace, financially.

The $400,000-per-year contract he signed with B.C. last year played a large part in Jones securing a three-year, $1 million deal from the Bombers early this season.

Injuries, though, have knocked both stars off track -- Dickenson has a knee built of popsicle sticks, it seems, while Jones' throwing shoulder appears to have simply given out.

This week, though, signals the probable return of both to the lineup, and wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall in the head coaches' offices over the next while?

Here, Daley must find a way to explain that Jones has lost his job to 25-year-old Kevin Glenn, who earns some $250,000 less.

In Vancouver, Buono will have to tell Dickenson he's been replaced by the third-stringer, a 23-year-old who'd thrown all of two passes as a pro going into the season.

What else can they do?

Because if either Daley or Buono hand the starting job back to the veteran anytime soon, they'll be doing a disservice to their teams.

Glenn has done in three weeks what Jones couldn't do in 10 -- get the Bombers on a roll. No doubt he's benefited from the improved play around him, specifically on the offensive line.

But he's also shown improvement of his own every week. And with the Bombers brimming with a confidence missing around here since the middle of last year, risking a disruption by switching quarterbacks would be a monumental mistake.

Unlike Jones, Dickenson's play wasn't really in question prior to his injury.

But that doesn't change the fact Printers has arguably been the CFL's top player in guiding the Lions to eight straight wins and first place in the West.

You're going to mess with that magic?

Pro sports is a fickle, and sometimes cruel, business.

What you've done in the past is great, until some hotshot comes along and does it as good, or better. And cheaper.

Daley has made no bones about his philosophy: if you're hurt and your replacement takes your job, that's football.

Buono has been much more vague, still calling Dickenson his No. 1, but refusing to say what he'll do when he's 100% healthy.

As for Glenn and Printers, give them credit, not only for making the most of their opportunities, but for saying all the right things about the teammates they are trying to make expendable.

If they falter in back-to-back weeks, fine -- the vets could get another chance.

If they don't, the CFL will soon have two very experienced, and expensive, quarterbacks on the market.


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