Wanna buy a Grey Cup?

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

You can have quarterback Kerry Joseph, if you want to spend an extra $400,000 this season.

You can get the CFL's top ball hawk, Korey Banks, if you're willing to commit about $800,000 over the next five years.

A homegrown receiver like Pat Woodcock? No problem, if you don't mind paying his six-figure salary.

Yes, CFL fans, it appears the 2006 Grey Cup, to be played right here in River City, is officially up for sale.

Got a hole in your lineup that you couldn't fill through free agency?

Come and pick the bones of the Ottawa Renegades franchise, may it rest in peace.

Oh, and don't worry about that new salary cap. Remember, it wasn't going to be enforced until next year, anyway.

So it's open season -- make that, open wallets -- for at least one more year, a trip to Winnipeg going to the highest bidder in tomorrow's dispersal draft.

Problem is, for every two or three teams wringing their hands in glee at this rush of available talent, there's one that's simply wringing its hands.

Bankruptcy auction

Meet the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who must feel a little like the struggling farmer going to his neighbour's bankruptcy auction. It doesn't take long to realize you can't afford half this stuff, anyway.

For instance, the Bombers, choosing second behind Hamilton, would love to grab Joseph. The guy's shown signs of being a marquee quarterback, even if he did lead the league in interceptions last year.

He also became just the third passer in CFL history to rush for more than 1,000 yards and throw for more than 4,000 in the same season.

"He's an interesting guy, no doubt about it," Bomber GM Brendan Taman began. "And one of the interesting parts about him is what I'm going to be looking at here in the next 10 minutes."

That would be his contract.

"If we decide that's the guy we want," Taman said. "I have to meet with the accountants and go, 'OK, how is this going to work? Or will it?' "

And then he'll have to ask a similar question of incumbent quarterback Kevin Glenn.

"If we take Kerry Joseph, making 400 grand, what is that saying to Kevin?" Taman wondered, aloud. "That's not proper, in some ways."

Same goes for Banks, the ball thief who led the CFL with 10 interceptions in '05.

The Bombers need defensive backs like a dying man needs a preacher, but can they pay one of them $150,000?

"He's flat-out good," Taman said. "He's flat-out expensive, too. As much as you can get excited in one second, you can also go, "Oh, sh--,' in another second."

That's what Taman's day was like yesterday -- a moment of euphoria, followed by the setting in of budgetary reality.

In the front offices of some of the wealthier teams in the league, you can bet the discussion is a little different.

There are teams that wouldn't think twice about over-spending to get what they need, either because they have better attendance and, therefore, revenue (Edmonton and Calgary) or private owners with deeper pockets (B.C., Montreal and Hamilton).

Truth is, one East Division team is already lobbying hard to acquire Winnipeg's first pick.

There's one wrinkle on this balance sheet, though, that favours the Bombers: the promise of a nice little profit from the Grey Cup game.

If they can sell the thing out and pocket, say, $2 million, they can more than make up for some extra spending.

Of course, the Grey Cup was supposed to be about retiring the debt and setting up a rainy-day fund.

One thing we know for sure: the allure of a quick, albeit expensive, fix will be more than enough to cause a few teams to sideline their common sense.

It's always been that way in the CFL. It's how the league gets itself into situations like this in the first place.


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