Back in business or prolonging inevitable?

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:09 AM ET

So, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have a new lease on life, do they?

Like a death-row prisoner who, on the eve of his execution, finds out his case will be reviewed, after all, the local CFLers got their reprieve on the weekend.

Their phone call from the governor came in the form of Saskatchewan's win over the Edmonton Eskimos, which puts the Bombers' playoff destiny back in their own hands.

All we can say to that is, yikes!

Isn't that a bit like handing a child a book of matches and a can of gasoline?

I mean, the last time the Bombers had control of their playoff hopes, they pulled a Keith Stokes and dropped the ball.

Give 'em a chance to get in the driver's seat, they do their best Charles Roberts and miss the bus.

Actually, Roberts' specialty is flights -- this week he missed his fourth in the last two years, which has to be some sort of pro sports record.

If Roberts' approach to practice is any indication of where this team's collective head is following a week-long break, they may as well stuff two points into a stamped envelope and mail it to Edmonton, saving us all some trouble. At least we'd spare Roberts the heartache of catching another plane this season.

A little harsh, you say?

To that, I say go back to Oct. 8.

That's when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats came to town, remember? When head coach Jim Daley spelled it out for the troops: win the last three and you're in.

They were in, all right -- in serious doo-doo -- after a 20-13 loss to the 'Cats that had all the discipline of a prison break.

If this is how a team handles a must-win atmosphere, at home, no less, we can only imagine how it'll deal with pressure at Commonwealth Stadium, where the locals are desperately trying to extend a 32-year playoff streak.

What's Daley's approach this week -- "OK, guys, this time I really mean it."?

And if he thought Stokes's antics against Hamilton were self-centred -- stuffing a magazine inside the goalpost padding and pulling it out for a touchdown celebration -- what on Earth is he going to do about his star running back?

Airline to blame

Bomber GM Brendan Taman said yesterday the airline was to blame for Roberts missing a connecting flight yesterday.

I'd like to know what on Earth Roberts is doing trying to reach Winnipeg from California on the same day he has a 10:15 a.m. practice? With this guy's history, shouldn't he have been flying back the day before practice resumed?

I'd be willing to bet you can't even get here from Sacramento by 10 a.m., considering the two-hour time change and everything.

And if he did try to get here Sunday, and the airline screwed up, surely he would have been here on time.

The point? Roberts could have been here for practice if he'd really wanted to. And the Bombers, instead of covering for him, should have reached the end of their rope by now.

Maybe I'll be proven wrong.

Maybe Roberts will have a perfectly plausible explanation this time.

And maybe the 6-10 Bombers, whose actions have been criminal most of the season, will take their stay of execution and live to see another week.

A win over the Esks would, after all, set up a perfectly juicy Week 18 showdown with Khari Jones and the Calgary Stampeders.

Imagine that -- an old friend with a chance to pull the switch on your season.

Wouldn't that be a perfect way to end the soap opera that has been 2004?


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