Steve Buratto's first taste of the CFL came in Winnipeg in the spring of 1977, when Blue Bombers head coach Bud Riley invited him to be a guest coach at training camp. "I'll never forget, Dieter Brock threw me a ball about 30 yards," Buratto said yesterday from his home in White Rock, B.C. "It was one of those weighted balls and I had no idea what it was.
"It went right through my arms and hit me in the pit of the stomach. I almost puked right there on the practice field."
Despite that unfortunate incident, Buratto wouldn't mind coming back to the Manitoba capital on a more permanent basis.
The 61-year-old has been told that he won't receive a new contract from B.C. Lions head coach Wally Buono this winter, so now he's intrigued about becoming Winnipeg's offensive co-ordinator under head coach Jim Daley.
"I'd be very interested," Buratto said. "It's a good opportunity, kind of a clean slate. I know (the Bombers) have had some struggles offensively and had kind of a revolving door for a while, but (GM) Brendan (Taman) does a great job in getting players."
Ron Lancaster Jr., is still technically the Bombers offensive co-ordinator. Daley told all of his coaches at the end of the season to look for work while he assembled his own staff, but the incumbents would still get a shot at retaining their jobs.
Lancaster talked to the Edmonton Eskimos last week and, according to the Vancouver Province, is the odds-on favourite to land the position under new head coach Danny Maciocia.
"I'm sure whichever job he can get his hands on first, he'll probably take, whether it's (Edmonton) or wherever," Taman said yesterday.
Buratto said four CFL teams, including the Bombers, have inquired about his services. He plans to speak with Daley later this week, but he wouldn't confirm that Winnipeg is his first choice.
"I'd have to hold some reservations on that statement because I haven't talked in detail to Jim," Buratto said. "Part of it is what does he expect of me and what's he going to be like, and all those kind of things that go into it."
When asked about the Bombers offence, which has had five co-ordinators in the last six years, the first thing the former Lions head coach noted was the success the team had in 2001 and 2002, "when they had those rockets (specifically Arland Bruce III) on the outside," he said.
"I thought Kamau (Peterson) was a good addition this year. They had some struggles up front on offence, similar to what we had, because they got guys hurt. Not much you can do there. Now this year they struggled a bit on defence with injuries and whatever the case is. It's kind of hard to (analyse) from the outside.
"Over the years they've been able to find some awfully good football players and get them into Winnipeg and win some games."