Shivers defends KhariDon't slam the quarterback, blame horrible O-line
By PAUL FRIESEN, SPORTS COLUMNIST
REGINA -- Apparently Roy Shivers, the straight-shootin', loose-talkin' general manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, knows a spent horse when he sees one. It was back in mid-July, right after the Blue Bombers had won back-to-back games to surge to 2-2, good enough for a share of first place in the CFL West, when Shivers uttered a rather blunt assessment of the team.
"I can't believe they're in first place," Shivers said at the time. "I thought they would be right there with Calgary as the worst teams in our league. I still think that."
Six weeks later, it appears the man who loves to shoot from the hip was right on target.
At 3-7, the fading Bombers are just one loss away from sharing a barn with the sad-sack Stampeders, going into today's Labour Day Classic at Taylor Field.
The thing is, Shivers' Roughriders are a mere game better, at 4-6.
So with the significance of today's horse race, and the re-match back in Winnipeg next Sunday, you'd think he'd maybe lay off the spurs for a week or two.
Well, this cowpoke only knows one way of offering his opinion, and that's with guns a-blazing.
His shirttail out, sunglasses on and dreadlocks hanging from beneath the towel on his head, Shivers didn't look like your typical CFL GM as he watched his team practise yesterday.
He didn't sound like one, either.
"I thought their offensive line was horrible and their secondary was horrible, and that's been proven," Shivers said of the Bombers. "You can't blame the quarterback (Khari Jones), because a quarterback can't play football when he's on his back. That isn't just this year. He was getting the crap beat out of him last year. Sh--, the guy has taken a hell of a beating.
"You can't survive in this league if your quarterback is gettin' killed. Don't give him the heat. Give the offensive line the heat."
Now, you know what would happen if Dave Ritchie were still the sheriff in Winnipeg: Shivers' comments would be tacked to the wall in the Bomber locker-room, pronto.
Heck, they might be, anyway.
But Shivers couldn't care less.
"How can something you put up in the locker-room get your team fired up? That doesn't make any sense to me," he said.
"If your team's not fired up anyway playing this game, you've got a problem. That's why I don't have a problem saying a lot of things."
For instance, here's his take on the 10-1 Montreal Alouettes.
"They've always started out with the great run, and at the end of the year they're playing average football."
On the B.C. Lions, who lead the West at 7-3: "B.C. has been fortunate, with (Casey) Printers, who's been able to keep them alive, because the offensive line is not that great. It's anybody's race."
On Winnipeg and Saskatchewan football fans: "If they don't like something for one day, they'll turn against it. And then the next day they'll turn back. Both provinces are the same. They're on and off and on and off and on and off. They're passionate to a point where they don't know what to do.
"Everybody's a coach in both provinces. Everybody owns the team. And the guys here that never come to the game do all the bitching."
And on his perplexing 'Riders: "We've been good in a couple of games, and then we stink up the place the next game."
Shivers did offer a tip-of-the-stetson to new Bomber boss Jim Daley, saying his defensive strategy is better than Ritchie's.
But if the Bombers were a thoroughbred two years ago, they're a worn-out one today, he suggested.
"If you let the veterans get old, they'll all get old at the same time on you."
With that, Shivers put his pistols away and strode off.
Presumably, to reload.