April 12, 2012
Mayor of Staggerville?Blue saw Willis not worth trouble
By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - If you injected Joe Mack with truth serum, I wonder if the Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM would break into hysterical laughter, point in the general direction of Regina and scream, “He’s your problem, now!”
“He” would be defensive end Odell Willis, who’s produced even more grey hairs than he has quarterback sacks in his three-year CFL career.
Fresh off two-plus damage-controlled years in Winnipeg, Willis has already made his first smelly headline in Saskatchewan, less than a month after Mack traded him to the Green, and perhaps gullible, Riders.
This time it’s a drunk driving charge, which Willis accumulated in Atlanta, Sunday.
On its own, a DUI accusation is serious enough, but overcomeable. Given Willis’s ever-lengthening transgression sheet, you have to wonder how much longer he’ll be employed in the CFL.
If you ask me, he’s not worth the trouble, and Mack has to take a bow for impeaching the self-proclaimed Mayor of Swaggerville when he did.
Mack sent Willis to the Riders March 22, but a move may have been inevitable as far back as the 2011 Grey Cup game.
Two days before kickoff, Willis committed the cardinal sin: causing a distraction by putting himself above the team through a series of self-absorbed posts on Twitter.
Wishing he was out of Vancouver, wondering how he could have been left off the players association all-star team and questioning players who kiss (butt) and “snitch” on teammates, Willis came across as a sulking, moody prima donna.
Which is exactly what he is.
He’s also blessed with talent, enough to record 24 sacks the last two seasons. And therein lies the conundrum, first for Mack, and now for Riders GM Brendan Taman.
The usually quotable Taman was tighter than a clam, Thursday, offering only a prepared statement.
“Odell and the Roughrider organization are taking this matter very seriously and we won’t comment any further until the legal process has run its course,” was the jist of it.
It’s not the first time Willis has found himself in the path of the legal machine.
You may recall the “personal situation” that caused No. 40 to miss a week of practice early in 2010, which turned out to be a charge of criminal trespassing in Carrollton, Ga. Willis was accused of taking a big-screen TV from an apartment, before eventually returning it.
Willis resolved that issue without accruing a criminal record, but the smell of these things doesn’t just go away.
When he burst from the gate last season, averaging a sack a game over the first half, he appeared on his way to a CFL defensive-player-of-the-year award.
Then came a second-half funk, a drop-off to four sacks and a moping attitude that didn’t impress anybody.
Word is Willis had little respect for Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice, and by the end of the season the feeling must have been mutual, as Willis found his playing time cut significantly.
Back in his full-time role for the Grey Cup, Willis didn’t exactly rise to the occasion, reverting to another bad habit by taking two third-quarter penalties, including a 15-yarder, that helped the B.C. Lions score 10 points.
If there was a final straw, it was Willis demanding to be released after the season so he could pursue a job in the NFL.
At his best, Willis was a joy to be around, a rare talent with a zest for life and a mouthful of good quotes.
At his worst, he was a bad teammate who couldn’t focus and, worst of all, couldn’t play.
With Willis, you get equal amounts of both.
The Bombers might have to worry about the good Odell for two weeks, come the Labour Day Weekend.
The Riders have to deal with the bad one every other day of the year.