Good results bring great expectations

TED WYMAN

, Last Updated: 11:46 AM ET

The CFL is a what-have-you-done-for-us-lately kind of league. Just ask Troy Westwood and Damon Allen about that.

If you can't get the job done, you don't have one.

Hall-of-Fame numbers, all-time records and impeccable reputations be damned.

Milt Stegall continues to be one of the best receivers -- if not the best -- in the CFL as he pursues the record for career touchdowns at the age of 37.

Still, if Stegall were to hang on too long and his skills started to diminish, even he could wind up in the same boat as Allen and Westwood, who both found out you can always be pushed aside if someone with more upside comes along.

In the CFL, you have to continually prove yourself and you only get so many chances.

The same principle applies to coaches.

Danny Maciocia of the Edmonton Eskimos looked like wonder boy when he took over the team and guided it to a Grey Cup in his first season. Last year, he left fans wondering what he was smoking as his team plummeted to last place in the West.

That Grey Cup title seems an awfully long time ago to Eskimos fans who are not accustomed to missing the playoffs.

Maciocia now has to prove himself all over again or he might soon be on his way out the door.

Here in Winnipeg, fans don't have quite as lofty expectations. The Blue Bombers haven't won a Grey Cup since 1990 and have had some lean years recently, so last season's 9-9 record was looked upon favourably by the faithful.

Bombers coach Doug Berry looked like a miracle-worker, taking over the mess left by Jim Daley, and putting together a competitive team that could have made it to the Grey Cup with a couple of breaks.

Berry was a breath of fresh air for the Winnipeg Football Club. His enthusiasm wore off on the entire team and, by extension, the team's fans.

That enthusiasm has blossomed into something more challenging for Berry -- optimism.

The starved fans of a city that hasn't celebrated a championship this millennium are starting to believe that this might be the year and, if it's not, the year is nigh.

All this suggests Berry is no longer a newcomer who can impress just by putting together a team that is better than the year before.

Now he is a white knight, expected to lead the team to the Promised Land.

So far, he is relishing the opportunity.

"I like being looked up to and I hope the rest of the East has to look up to us for the rest of the season," Berry said.

"(There's) not more pressure ... we're expected to win every week. I have high expectations anyhow."

This, of course, is not to say that Berry's job is in jeopardy if the Bombers don't win the Grey Cup this year, or even next year.

He has performed admirably in his short time at the helm and everyone wants to see what he can do with a boatload of talent.

Still, the higher you climb on the ladder of expectation, the harder you fall if things start to go south.

Something tells us Berry has the wherewithal and the skill to flourish amid high hopes and make something special come to pass.


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