It was just a year ago that the Blue Bombers were so anxious to acquire a capable starting centre that they sent Dave Mudge, one of the CFL's best offensive tackles, to Montreal to get him.
But after starting at centre for the rest of the season, Aaron Fiacconi was demoted to backup when Winnipeg's camp broke this year. However, Fiacconi was pressed back into starting duty to replace injured guard Matt Sheridan (groin). And with Jermese Jones replacing injured tackle Dan Goodspeed (knee), the Hogs have continued to win the battles in the trenches. In fact, that revamped O-line just freed up tailback Charles Roberts for a 129-yard outing while keeping Hamilton to two sacks in last week's 29-0 win over the Tiger-Cats.
But Fiacconi never complained about his demotion.
"It certainly is hard," said Bombers head knock Doug Berry, who coached him in Montreal. "He has been the starter here and you think you've got a relationship with the coach and that coach comes in and says, 'We're going to play somebody else.'
"But Fiacconi has done a good job. He has a good attitude and that's part of the whole thing that, when you're winning, the price you're paying as you prepare to win, sometimes, that's worth it. And that's what I think he's experiencing here -- 'No matter what pain level I have to go through, if we're winning, I'm willing to make the sacrifice.' "
Fiacconi only lost his starting status when the Bombers claimed offensive linemen Obby Khan and Val St. Germain in the Ottawa dispersal draft. But the 6-foot-3, 309-pound Mansfield product did not get down on himself.
"Not at all, because I know I'm more than capable and coach Berry and (offensive line) coach (Mike) Gibson have commented on numerous occasions that they're happy to have me here," said Fiacconi, 26. "And being the first-reserve offensive lineman is a big responsibility. You have to be into everything that's going on at all times, so basically I just do my job and work hard and it pays off usually. It has so far.
"I've always been confident in myself. That's one thing I learned back in the day from my first year with coach Berry. I remember being a rookie and being down on situations, not being able to play and not being able to contribute at all and he said, 'Be confident in yourself because that's the one thing that's going to make the biggest difference. If you're confident in yourself, you can go places and do things.' "
And Fiacconi was confident enough to face the reality of his situation.
"We managed to acquire two offensive linemen from Ottawa and one (Khan) happened to be a better centre than I am, I take, so it's good for him and it's good for his career," he said. "I've still been able to play quite a bit this year, so I'm starting, going on four football games now in the first eight games, and I played quite a bit in the ones that I haven't started. So it's not an issue of playing time. I feel pretty good."