Keep on peddling

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:48 AM ET

A lasting impression from Michael Feterik's three-year reign as Calgary Stampeders owner?

How about a day late in the 2002 CFL season with the owner, decked out in his grey Stampeders sweatsuit, pumping away on a stationary bike in the team's cramped weight room.

At his side, son Kevin, entrenched by birthright as the third-string quarterback and future heir to the Orange County Container throne, astride a neighbouring bike.

They were revelling in the moment.

Peddling, sweating, grinning. Peddling, sweating, grinning.

Team Feterik in all its glory.

All that was missing was Fred Fateri, towelling them down as they grunted out the final minutes of their workout.

The two were apparently oblivious to the fact every other player in the Stampeders facility had gone scurrying for cover. In the showers, in the sauna or scrambling for the trainer's room, the rest of the Red and White wanted nothing to do with the bonding between Dear Old Dad and The Kid With The Golden Gun.

The image of Michael Feterik huffing and puffing on an exercise bike -- desperately trying to look good yet going nowhere -- serves as a perfect metaphor for the California box king's ownership. Although the bills were always paid -- the first defence his few supporters offer -- the team was a disaster in most respects during his time here. Feterik's ownership was a strange sideshow, drawing attention away from what really matters -- the football team.

The new ownership group understands that and after being introduced at today's press conference, Ted Hellard, John Forzani, Doug Mitchell et al will let competent, qualified football people run the team while doing their best to stay out of the spotlight.

It's a concept Feterik never quite understood. Although his motives might have been pure, he was always getting in the way.

True to form, Feterik had the audacity on Monday to claim the 2001 Grey Cup game was his finest hour as owner. His crowning glory during his stint at the helm.

In truth, Feterik had absolutely nothing to do with the 2001 Grey Cup championship, save for signing the final documents and taking over ownership from Sig Gutsche a couple of weeks prior to the big game.

That title had everything to do with the tireless work of Wally Buono, Bob O'Billovich and George Cortez, along with a lightning-in-a-bottle performance from QB Marcus Crandell.

Feterik just happened to be lucky enough to stumble into the investment, scribbling his name on the contracts in time to win a Grey Cup ring.

To hear him tell it now, he was the mastermind behind the whole achievement, his great legacy to the football fans of Calgary.

In reality, he never started putting his fingerprints on the team until the following season, hiring Fateri, running Buono out of town while beginning a three-year slide of turmoil, controversy and ineptitude without a playoff berth.

The team posted an abysmal 15-39 record under Feterik's ownership, went though three presidents, three head coaches and four offensive co-ordinators.

In his final days as owner, Feterik drew a fly into the ointment in the form of secondary bidder Bruce Urban, another local businessman, to add some unwanted intrigue into the last hours of his ownership tenure.

A saving grace from the past three seasons? The team is still in remarkably healthy condition, despite a disappointing on-field product.

Fan support continues to be surprisingly strong and every indication is it will continue to grow under the new ownership's guidance.

Meanwhile, Feterik is still peddling.

This time he's headed straight out of town, never to be seen or heard from again, although he still has his Grey Cup ring.

THEY SAID IT

Heard during Feterik's reign

* OCT. 5, 2001

MICHAEL FETERIK

"I'd say I'm looking at 10 years as the owner. I'm not gonna come in here for three, four years, make a million and then sell. That makes no sense to me. I'll be a long-term owner. I also plan on owning it all. I have no plans for bringing in any other investors."

* SEPT. 17, 2002

MICHAEL FETERIK

Feterik brought in a personal "team of experts" and "big-name guys" in California to break down game film. "We can't keep blaming the players. It starts with me at the top -- we're all to blame, from me to Wally (Buono) through the whole system."

* NOV. 9, 2002

FRED FATERI

"Wally has been alone for so many years and some bad judgment calls were made. Two heads think better than one. Wally has a great track record and has a great football mind. Let's combine that with my experience and move on."

* JAN. 13, 2003

WALLY BUONO

"It was clear to me my time here was over and I needed to move on."


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