Howell, Renegades will do anything to play

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:30 AM ET

Markus Howell doesn't need gloves, he doesn't need an ice tub, and he doesn't need tape.

All the Ottawa Renegades receiver needs is a helmet and shoulder pads.

"We lost Josh (Ranek), we lost George Hudson, but the core is still there," Howell said yesterday. "The guys say give us a helmet and shoulder pads. I don't care who funds it -- (Bernie) Glieberman, the league ... who cares!

"Just give us a helmet and shoulder pads. We'll take a bus to Vancouver if we have to. We'll hop on a Greyhound and go to Vancouver and play!"

Howell, a native Winnipegger and former Blue Bomber, is a beacon of light in a sea of darkness, because it looks like his CFL franchise will fold if it doesn't find a new owner by the end of next week.

Howell, who's currently living in Winnipeg, has spent the past month acting as an information liaison for his American teammates who are desperately seeking updates on the saga.

Renegades linebacker and Ottawa resident Jason Kralt is the team's players' representative. Since he's also the player closest to the situation, he regularly sends out e-mails and speaks with Howell and Dave Donaldson, another Renegade from Winnipeg, by phone.

Howell then has three-way conference calls with some of his U.S. teammates.

"The first thing you do every morning is check the Internet, because that's our only source of information, really," said Howell. "It's been tough, guys calling me from all over the place -- Florida, Alabama -- because there's only a few guys that are in Canada for the off-season.

"We can't give them any answers."

Howell said he and his teammates are willing do whatever is asked of them to help get the Renegades on the field this season.

"If they need me, I'll get on the plane and go to Ottawa tomorrow and help with ticket drives and stuff," said Howell.

"If that's what they need, we're all for it. We're there.

"That's what the CFL's about -- getting in the community. And if this is a crisis that needs help, man, I'm sure the whole team would jump aboard and help out."

Unless any of them know a billionaire who's ready to lose a few million dollars in the first couple seasons, there doesn't appear to be much they can do now.

Howell, however, isn't giving up hope. He's excited because he hears training camp is all set for Carleton University, new practice uniforms are in, the coaching staff is getting ready for the draft and players' flights to Ottawa for training camp have been booked.

"As far as we know, it's a go," said Howell, who's going into his option year with the Renegades. "I'm gonna prepare like I'm playing in Ottawa this year until I hear otherwise."

If the impossible were to happen and the Renegades are somehow saved, Howell said there would be a great silver lining.

"If this thing works out for us and we get to play, no one expects us to win," he said. "They expect us to go belly up. And we love that. That's all we talk about now."


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