'I'm a crash and banger'

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

Aaron Fiacconi was driving home to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., with his brother and father when his cell phone rang Saturday night near Sudbury.

It was Montreal Alouettes GM Jim Popp telling him there was a chance he could be traded to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

He got home to Sault Ste. Marie, and the waiting began.

"I was sitting there overnight, and I wasn't sure what the situation was," Fiacconi said yesterday. "And I wasn't sleeping.

"So my wife (on Sunday) said, 'Let's go to the beach and get your mind off it.' So I end up going to the beach, and I get a phone call at 3 o'clock.

"I'm lying on the beach, and they said, 'You've been traded to Winnipeg.' "

Also on their way to Winnipeg were a conditional draft pick and future considerations.

Going to Montreal was fellow Canadian offensive lineman Dave Mudge, the CFL's Most Outstanding Lineman in 2001 who gradually fell out of favour in Winnipeg after undergoing season-ending knee surgery in September 2003.

"I'm sure Winnipeg is a little sad to hear of his departure, but I hope that they can embrace me and give me a lot of support and confidence," Fiacconi said.

The 6-foot-3, 304-pounder lined up at centre during yesterday's practice, and the Bombers (0-3) hope he will be in that same spot when they take on the Edmonton Eskimos (2-1) on Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium.

That means Matt Sheridan, who was Winnipeg's top offensive lineman last season, is moving back to his regular position of left guard. Dan Goodspeed and John Feugill will remain at the left and right tackle spots, while Mike Abou-Mechrek stays at right guard.

Bombers head coach Jim Daley said Fiacconi's acquisition essentially began when Winnipeg let centre Moe Elewonibi go in the off-season and suspended guard Orlando Bobo when he refused to come to camp because of unfulfilled contract demands.

"We needed a guard-centre and have for months," Daley said. "We feel now we've addressed that in a very positive manner."

Fiacconi, 25, is in his fourth CFL season, but he made his first career start just this past Friday night in Montreal against those very same Eskimos.

"I had a good game," Fiacconi said. "I played well, I was consistent, we only had one sack against us, and we won the game."

All it got him was a plane ticket to Winnipeg.

And Daley is hoping he brought his reputation with him. The barrel-chested Fiacconi sure was talking a good game yesterday.

"Some guys practise their technique. They work on finesse. They try and have sweet feet to beat the defensive lineman," Fiacconi said. "Me? I just like to maul defensive linemen. That's basically more my style.

"... I'm a crash and banger. I like to hit. I'm a pretty intense guy."

Fiacconi is in the first of a two-year-plus-an-option contract, which he signed this past off-season despite playing behind a collection of all-stars in Montreal.

"It's all right being a backup one or two years, but you don't want to make a career of it," said Fiacconi, who said he got into about six or seven games in each of the past three seasons.

"It was just more of a wishful thinking thing, that I would get my opportunity to start there eventually."

As for going from the penthouse to the outhouse in terms of the CFL standings, Fiacconi had a diplomatic answer. It should be noted, however, that Daley was sitting right beside him.

"I never look at the record of a team, or I never look at where the money is," Fiacconi said. "I know it sounds kind of odd, but I just love the game of football.

"... Regardless of where it is and where the team stands, I'm here to do my job."


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