CFL boob job ghastly sight

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

The reasons to celebrate at Frank Clair Stadium today will be twofold.

A) The country is 138 years old and B) the pro football team in the nation's capital is both alive and with an owner for a fourth straight season.

Do not, however, praise or thank the commissioner of the CFL if you see him. He had as much to do with B as he had to do with A.

As one who could never quite understand why crowds boo the head of a league when he is introduced, in this instance I would offer to hold the sign on the videoboard encouraging such behavior.

MAKES $399,999 TOO MUCH

At a reported salary of $400,000, Tom Wright is making about $399,999 too much.

If he had acted in December as he finally did in April, the Gliebermans would have had five more months to rebuild the groundwork of a shipwrecked franchise. But worse than that, by waiting so long before insisting that his little buddy Randy Gillies sell his shares when it was clear he had no sincere interest in owning the Renegades, Wright seriously risked losing the only interested buyer the team had.

No Gliebermans and the league would have run the franchise (into the ground) for the season before likely burying it next.

Think teams are bitching about the prospect of putting $125,000 each into Ottawa's bank account (rather than face a lawsuit for selling a false bill of goods) now? They would have had to ante up more than double that to keep the 'Gades alive for one year had Wright totally fumbled this one away.

But no, Wright is fortunate that a Detroit real-estate developer has a mysterious fondness for the CFL and this city. He's lucky that Bernie Glieberman is willing to dump millions into the Renegades, and that Lonie Glieberman came up with a way ($99 one- day sale) to more than double a season-ticket base that had dwindled while Wright twiddled his thumbs.

Has Wright congratulated Lonie for putting 5,900 fans back in the stands on a committed, game-by-game basis? Not yesterday, anyway. Yesterday, Wright was too busy pulling the rug out from Lonie's feet -- then stuffing it back under them again.

Whether he was crumbling under outside pressure or once again acting in super-slow mo, late yesterday afternoon Wright informed the Renegades they could not proceed with their controversial Mardi Gras Madness promotion. Twenty-some hours before game time, he ruled that the league's impeccable image could not bare the negativity of a few women flashing their hoots for a few guys in an area of the stadium unseen from two-thirds of the seats.

So what that the Renegades drew a league-low 16,000 a game last season. Don't dare try anything new that might bring a few more people out.

And if you're losing by 30 points in the fourth quarter, Joe, Wright will tell you to keep running the ball. You wouldn't want to put up a fight by passing, would you?

But before Lonie and his helpers even started to pack the beads back in their boxes, Wright changed his mind.

Mardi Gras Madness is back on again -- unless a good strong wind blows through the commissioner's office before 5 p.m. or so.

CANADA DAY WITH BERNIE

In the meantime, Bernie Glieberman will prepare for his return to Frank Clair Stadium after an 11-year absence, determined that this time, he's going to get it right.

"It feels great .... It brings back great memories, coming in for a game again," Glieberman said last night after stepping off the plane in Ottawa. "It looks like we're going to get about 20,000 (more likely 17,000-18,000), which we did the first time we were here (in 1992) before getting it up to about 24,000.

"Last week our offensive line certainly had some holes, and hopefully we've solved that problem. I'm sure it will be better next week, when we get (import left tackle) Reggie Nelson back.

"I'm very confident we're going to build a good fan base and a good team," Bernie added. "I'm confident we can do that."

And as a 66-year-old grown up, Bernie is also down with Mardi Gras Madness.

"Everybody is concerned about some people not behaving correctly, but there will be people like that at any event," he said. "We just have to make them understand, this is all for a good time. Hopefully, people will be on good behaviour, to allow us to do this more than one time."

Hopefully, the boob of a commissioner will allow them to do it more than once, too.

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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