Those grey clouds and pouring rain typified Brendan Taman's day yesterday.
"I've had better days," the Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM moaned last night. "I don't remember one as frustrating as this."
Taman's negotiations with two players who were entering their option years ended in futility. Because they were unhappy with the way those went, both veteran defensive back Ricky Bell and offensive lineman Orlando Bobo -- both imports -- officially filed their retirement papers. That way, they avoid suspensions for not showing up for today's physicals in preparation for the start of tomorrow's training camp.
Bell was apparently seeking an increase from his $90,000 per annum salary while Bobo was looking for a $20,000 raise from his $50,000 stipend.
Both can still return any time.
Bell was one of the team's top three defenders last season, and his departure leaves Winnipeg reeling after losing linebacker Mo Kelly, cornerback Eric Carter and defensive end Elfrid Payton -- all veterans.
"Any time a guy doesn't show up for camp, it's disappointing," Taman said. "But sometimes, the business side wields its ugly head. He was one of our top three defenders and he was paid to be one of the best three. But, looking at his track record, he does something like this every year.
"He's a smart business man but, on a day like this, I just look at replacing them. I've given up on talking to them."
Toward that end, import DB Markese Fitzgerald has agreed to terms to return and Taman is still negotiating with another DB.
Neither Bell nor Bobo could be reached for comment.
Bobo was likely one of the two best Bomber O-linemen last season. The Bombers, however, were already bringing in a handful of American Hogs.
"I'm not happy about it but I can't control what other people do," Taman said.
To make matters worse, defensive lineman Melvin Bradley will be arriving late due to a family matter and there were all kinds of problems with travel arrangements with other players yesterday.
"We've been pulling our hair out," Taman said. "And we're still looking for a couple of guys we think have checked in."
NEW QB: Taman also came to terms with former U.S. college quarterback Russ Michna yesterday and was planning to tell veteran Stanley Jackson to stay home last night. Jackson was to be relegated to fourth string anyway.
"I'm disappointed," Jackson told The Sun on Thursday. "I never really got an opportunity to showcase my talent.
"I wish it would've been sooner, because then I would've had more options."
Jackson would have been due a reporting bonus for showing up.
GRID BITS: Taman also came to terms with DL Ben Lynch but was still working on RB Marvin Townes ... And RB Charles Roberts, a perennial late-comer at camp? He was already in town on Thursday, Taman said ... Training camp opens at Canada Inns Stadium tomorrow, with practices going 8:15-10:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. They are open to the public.