Legends rally troops

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:57 AM ET

They have been rubbing shoulders with legends most of the past week.

The current version of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers broke bread, shared toasts and signed autographs alongside some of the players that the CFL club has deemed its top 20 of all time in this its 75th anniversary celebration.

It will culminate in today's 3 p.m. game against the first-place B.C. Lions at Canad Inns Stadium (CJOB,CBC), where the likes of Ken Ploen, Frank Rigney, Joe Poplawski and Chris Walby will be among those honoured during a halftime ceremony.

And head coach Jim Daley believes that just sharing their space will inspire his troops.

"It's been a great week for our team and I think you'll see the benefit of that (today)," Daley said yesterday. "When players cross paths with greatness, they play that way."

Bomber fans can only hope he's right as the woeful 4-10 Bombers cling to the last thin thread of playoff hope.

INSPIRING

"Whenever you're around great players like those guys, it should inspire you to go out there and try to impress them a little bit, or just try to pick your game up to one day where you could get on to one of those lists with some team," said linebacker Ryland Wickman. "Whenever you bring together all those great players that have been playing for the Bombers and all the history that it brings along, it should definitely get your blood flowing a little bit more and get you a little riled up.

"Whenever you get a good group of guys like that, you definitely want to go out there and put on a good show."

Not only that but it should motivate individuals to become better players.

"Just watching us at the awards dinner the other night, I guarantee that each one said in their head, 'Boy, it would be great to be up there, it would be great to get that kind of an honour,'" Walby suggested.

"I was so privileged to play and I hope the guys here now understand the tradition and the honour to put on this uniform."

The Bombers will even don golden jerseys to commemorate the historic 75th.

"With the 20 greatest players in Bomber history there, you could say they motivate the team to go out and play harder," said quarterback Kevin Glenn. "But we play hard every game. That kind of stuff is just extra icing on the cake."

TIME TO 'RIGHT SHIP'

Trouble is, some believed the Bombers would be spurred to loftier heights when the 20th anniversary of the 1984 Grey Cup team was celebrated last year. The very next day, the Bombers got blown out by B.C. 48-17.

"To tell you the truth, I don't even remember that far back," Wickman said. "We're just trying to get the ship righted this season. If we had a bad game last year then hopefully, these 20 guys will give us a little more inspiration this year.

"We've still got to go out there and play some good football no matter who's in the stands. We haven't done that enough times this year and hopefully, we can finish this season off on a good note and start winning some games here at the end."

However, receiver Jamie Stoddard was not swept up in the 75th emotions.

"If that's where you get your inspiration from, then we haven't had any inspiration all year," he said. "But ( the 75th celebration) is a little bit more of a different situation than week in and week out. For the club and for organization, it's important that we go out there and perform (today)."

But the funny thing is that it was actually Lions head coach/GM Wally Buono who put it best:

"You don't get paid to play, you get paid to win."

And that's true whether you were a CFL legend or a Bomber schmuck.


Videos

Photos