Buono needs bypass

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

Wally Buono reportedly has a serious heart condition and needs bypass surgery.

According to a source close to the family, the 54-year-old CFL coaching legend, who spent 16 seasons in the Calgary Stampeders organization, has known for the past six weeks but kept the shocking news a closely guarded secret.

Surgery is reportedly scheduled for early next week in Vancouver.

Some members of Buono's immediate family weren't told until yesterday.

Buono and his wife Sande have four children -- Amy, Dana, Christie and Michael.

Buono resigned his post as Stampeders GM-head coach two years ago before joining the Lions.

According to the source, doctors reportedly wanted Buono to undergo surgery in early October but he insisted on delaying the procedure until after the Grey Cup game.

The Lions lost the CFL championship 27-19 to the Toronto Argos Sunday in Ottawa.

Doctors discovered five years ago Buono has high cholesterol, a condition that increases your chances of suffering a stroke or heart attack.

This season, Buono became a spokesman for a national ad campaign to raise awareness about the disease. He is an avid jogger who also enjoys a penchant for Cuban cigars.

Buono led the Stampeders to Grey Cup titles in 1992, '98 and 2001.

An official announcement is expected from the Lions this morning.

Buono yesterday attended garbage-bag day with the Lions but didn't reveal his health condition.

The locker-room talk instead surrounded the team's quarterback situation.

Casey Printers says he often felt any mistake would result in him being replaced by Dave Dickenson this year and he wants "a fair shake" with the team next season.

Printers was voted the CFL's outstanding player for 2004 but didn't play a down in the Lions' Grey Cup loss.

Instead, Dickenson was given the start.

Printers, 23, became the starter after Dickenson, 31, re-injured his knee in July and underwent his third operation since January.

Even after leading the Lions to eight straight wins, Printers said he often felt he was playing on a short leash when Dickenson returned to the lineup.

"I felt a lot of pressure on me during the season to compete at a very high level," Printers said yesterday while cleaning out his locker at the Lions practice facility. "If I didn't (play well) I felt I would be sitting down. I don't feel that is as fair as it possibly can be. I love playing here, I love the city. I just want a fair shake and a fair opportunity."

Buono denied being quick with the hook for any of his quarterbacks.

"We weren't going to put that kind of pressure on a quarterback," said Buono, who now has a 3-4 record in Grey Cups.

"Unless the quarterback was totally confused or ineffective, we weren't going to make a change. I think we've been very consistent in how we've dealt with all this and very fair."

Printers, in just his second season with the Lions, started 14 of 18 games but went the distance just six times. He said he wants to come to training camp next spring with an equal opportunity to unseat Dickenson, who earns more than $400,000.

"That's what I want to talk to the coaching staff about and make sure everything is on an even ground," said Printers, who reportedly earns less than $60,000. "I just don't want the situation to be slighted at all. I just want a fair shake. That's all I can ask for."

Dickenson said he wouldn't be thrilled about being a backup next year.

"That's just something I can't really fathom at this point," he said. "I don't want to even think about it. I didn't come back to Canada to be a backup. Casey is the 2004 outstanding player. It really won't come to a head until we go to camp. Whatever happens, happens."


Videos

Photos