Bomber fans go easy on brass

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:35 AM ET

Last night's Winnipeg Blue Bombers annual fan forum was trudging along with a host of softball questions from the Blue and Gold faithful.

That is until someone asked GM Brendan Taman what really happened with free-agent safety Richard Karikari, who agreed in principle with the Bombers in March before re-signing with the Montreal Alouettes.

"He's an idiot," Taman blurted.

That quip got the 250 fans buzzing, and it added to the atmosphere of excitement that most of last night's crowd appears to be feeling as the team hurtles toward the 2006 CFL season.

One might have expected the fans to be a little more sour after the team went 5-13 in 2005, but the strong talk from new head coach Doug Berry had the faithful in a forgiving mood.

Whenever he was asked about whether a particular player would be starting or not, Berry said that the player had better show up at training camp ready to win the job.

"We're going to have a short fuse," Berry said. "We're not going to let a guy play for four games to figure it out."

Berry's hiring appears to have smoothed over any hard feelings fans might have had in the wake of former head coach Jim Daley's "rebuilding" season. Proof is in the more than 17,000 season tickets have been sold, which includes 1,200 new subscribers.

Only one person at last night's forum grilled Taman about his off-season moves, saying he hadn't done enough.

Ryan Masters, a six-year season ticket holder, left from the forum feeling rejuvenated.

"I really liked what I heard," said Masters. "I didn't know much about Doug Berry before, but I'm really impressed with his demeanour and his attitude toward football and towards winning.

"I'm really getting excited about the season."

It should be noted, however, that Masters got up to the microphone earlier and said -- after some banal questions about Canad Inns Stadium -- that as long as the coaches and players do their jobs, he'd "sit on a milk crate and pee in a cup" at Bomber games.

Pat Rathwell, who's had season tickets for seven years, also said he was most impressed with Berry.

"The biggest thing I find is the coach brings an absolute winning attitude," said Rathwell. "He comes from the Als, so of course he knows what winning's all about, but something we've missed here for a long time is a player's coach.

"He exudes what a coach's responsibility is, and that's to motivate."

Berry has the diehards motivated.

The real test will begin on June 16 in Montreal.

LATE HITS: Taman told the fans that the health of free-agent WR Gilles Colon could prohibit the Bombers from re-signing him ... The club announced that Canad Inn Stadium is going to have a new sound system this year.


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