Spark of hope visible

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:09 AM ET

The press release went out at 10 a.m. yesterday: own a piece of Blue Bomber history, it said, by purchasing a game-worn jersey from last season.

The cost: $299.99.

The player list -- not quite as eye-popping.

I mean, Reggie Jones, Joe Morgan and Randy Bowles? Those three aren't a piece of history, they are history, after last year's 7-11, non-playoff season.

What about Orlando Bobo and Ricky Bell, the two training camp holdouts who never did show up? Guess you could always put their jerseys out on your front step and have guests wipe their feet on them.

And who the hell are Kurt Sigler, Shawn Gifford and Hugh Smith? According to the Bomber media guide, none of the above suited up for a single game in '04.

"Game-worn" must have a loose definition when it comes to souvenir sales. Imagine the rush to the Bomber store to grab those babies.

It makes you wonder about the eventual fate of this year's Blue Bomber jerseys, indelibly tied to the fate of the team, of course.

Going into last Saturday's game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, many seemed destined for the discount rack.

You think any Bomber fan had even considered wearing Stanford Samuels' No. 16, or Sean Woodson's No. 37?

KEY MEMBERS

Yet, based on Saturday's 44-14 romp over Hamilton, those two could become, if not household names, at least key members of a pretty good Winnipeg defence before this season is up.

And how long before receiver Chris Brazzell makes everybody forget about Kamau Peterson? OK, so he already has.

The point is, this team could still give its fans something to remember about '05. A reason to be proud, if not plunk down $300 for a sweaty souvenir.

Just look at the next five weeks: Ottawa, here, this Friday, followed by Hamilton, Saskatchewan (twice) and Ottawa again. Five winnable games, for a team that's 2-6 and needs to start winning, now.

No, the Bombers might not be 7-6 at the end of this stretch, and if they get ahead of themselves they'll have a tough time winning any.

But there's absolutely no reason why they shouldn't be in the thick of the race in the CFL West when mid-September rolls around.

THICK OF IT

Heck, they're in the thick of it now, just two points behind the Roughriders and Calgary. With the schedule they've got, they should have their mitts all over third place five weeks from now.

"You're always as good as your last game, I guess," GM Brendan Taman was saying yesterday. "We were decent against Hamilton, no doubt about it. We seemed to come together a little better. I'm hoping for a situation similar to what Saskatchewan had last year."

The 'Riders, you may recall, were written off after falling to 4-8.

"Then they just caught fire," Taman said. "So I'm hoping this is the start of our catching fire phase. I think we have the ability to do it. Based on the way we played Saturday night, I think we can.

"But, again, we're 2-6. You have to string some together before you go out and beat your chest about that. I have a tough time, when you're 2-6, getting excited about anything."

If you're looking for a hook of hope on which to hang your hat, look no further than the play of quarterback Kevin Glenn and the rest of the Bomber offence. Particularly the line and the receiving corps, two sore spots that appear to be healing.

So it's still too early to say how we'll look back on this edition of the Bombers.

Who knows, at this time next year, fans may be talking about the team that came back from the grave to make some noise in the CFL playoff race.

Either that, or it'll be hard to keep up with the price discounts on another bunch of game-worn pieces of history.


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