Amid rumblings of disturbingly slow ticket sales, the coach/GM of the Renegades yesterday declared 2005 a "must win" season.
"Winning sells, bottom line," Joe Paopao said at an off-season activity update for the local media 58 days before the start of training camp. "It's not good enough to play hard and be close. Those days have come and gone. This city deserves a winner. And it's going to get one."
Season ticket numbers were unavailable at the briefing, just as they have been whenever ownership has been asked the question this winter. The vague, standard response is "it's going good," despite constant rumours to the contrary.
Minus the presence of Brad Watters, who officially stepped down as team president yesterday, Paopao was left to answer questions about an ownership which is still unsettled after six months of negotiations.
"Some things just take time," said Paopao, who has led the team to four, seven and five-win seasons. "Training camp is around the corner and football is going to be here.
"(Winning) is a must. We've got to find a way to win. We haven't done anything in three years."
Asked if the existence of the franchise hinged on a successful season, Paopao said: "I don't have that answer. Obviously, you need people to go to the games.
"It's about what the owners can tolerate. Nobody wants to lose money. It's all on me, as the head coach. We've got to get out there and win. Winning answers all those questions."
SIGNINGS OF THE TIMES: The Renegades finally have themselves a fullback, after announcing that non-import Lloyd Orris has inked a deal with the team. Orris, a 5-foot-10, 200 pounder, is a former fifth round pick of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who didn't play last season. He's also a Simon Fraser University product who blocked for former Renegade Mike Vilimek when the latter was a dominant college running back ... The club released four veterans yesterday: LB Reggie Givens and RB Raymonn Adams, plus two non-imports in LB Charles Assman and K Demetris Scouras ... The Renegades also added a pair of imports - DB Leonard Myers and D-lineman Michael "Cherokee" Moncrief.
BETWEEN THE LINES: The Renegades have an offer on the table for veteran OL Chris Burns, who became a free agent in February. Burns, a Renegade the past three years, is expected to wait until closer to training camp before deciding on where he'll play. "He's going to wait, but we have to move forward," said Paopao, who currently has eight Canadian O-linemen under contract and expects to bring two Americans to compete for protection jobs at camp .... The Renegades are unlikely to select RB Jesse Lumsden in the Canadian College draft even if he is still available when they make the second pick overall. "We need a guy who is going to come to camp now," said Paopao. "He's going to have an opportunity in the States, I believe." ... The Renegades are still negotiating for a training camp site, with the possibility they'll return to Kemptville, but only for a 10-12 day "mini-boot camp" before setting up shop at Frank Clair Stadium, Paopao said.