Prairie rivalry heating up

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:20 AM ET

The CFL season-opener for the two prairie rivals promises to be a dandy already, more than two months ahead.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have never forgiven the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for introducing the Banjo Bowl, a name based on a tongue-in-cheek comment about 'Rider fans.

And Roughrider GM Roy Shivers sticks the needle in whenever he gets the chance. Last year, Shivers predicted that the Bombers would not be very good because their quarterback, Khari Jones, was playing behind a porous offensive line and their secondary was weak. This winter, Shivers has predicted that the Bombers will be plagued by a season-long quarterback controversy.

Yesterday, Shivers lamented that Saskatchewan lost to the Bombers three times -- "We couldn't beat the worst team in the league," he said.

Although Winnipeg finished fourth in the West and seventh overall in the nine-team league, Bomber GM Brendan Taman refused to take the Shivers' bait.

"What can you say?" he asked, laughing in response to the insult. "They ended up in the West Final, we didn't.

"He was right last year when he said we weren't very good. He's got a very good team over there and give him credit, he stirs it up."

Saskatchewan plays host to the Bombers on June 25.

MORE NEGOTIATIONS: Now that tailback Charles Roberts has been inked to a multi-year pact, Taman can turn his attention to several key players about to enter their option years -- including kick returner Keith Stokes, safety Wes Lysack, defensive back Ricky Bell and quarterback Tee Martin.

Stokes, in fact, approached Taman about a contract extension in January and the two talked again last month.

"We re-extended him last year at this time," Taman said. "The reality is that we can't extend everybody or our budget would be blown to smithereens."

Meanwhile, Martin's agent and Taman have been playing telephone tag.

All four players are still under contract.

"A player can play out his option or sit out," Taman said. "Sometimes, a guy plays his ass off in his option year."

MORMON QB: Ottawa signed Boston College QB Paul Peterson, who was brought up in Utah and spent a two-year Mormon mission in Nicaragua.


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