Coach Cal urges caution

PAUL FRIESEN

, Last Updated: 11:47 AM ET

The man who presided over one of the most successful eras in Bomber history has a warning: don't go private unless you absolutely have to.

"Be very careful," former coach and GM Cal Murphy said. "If you can help it, if you can run the thing financially and keep the thing secure, I would say keep on doing what you're doing."

Murphy, who steered the Bombers to Grey Cup titles in 1984, '88 and '90, says community-owned teams have a unique connection with their fans.

"When it's a private ownership, there's less ownership in the city," he said. "There is a certain amount of pride in having public ownership. I realize the public doesn't really own it. But they do, in a way. They do get a say in the thing. They can get on the (board of) directors."

In his 26-year tenure in the CFL, Murphy worked for publicly and privately owned teams. He's seen more than his share of owners foul up their franchises, a risk any privately-held team always faces.

"Here's the other thing. Sometimes guys get tired of doing it," Murphy said. "And there's less money to be made in the CFL, so you can tire of it a lot sooner. And so they sell it. A guy really has to want it as his own little toy, more or less. And if he tires of it, you don't know who's coming in."

It could be a Lonie Glieberman, who was as interested in dating cheerleaders as he was in running the Ottawa Renegades.

Or a Michael Feterik, whose main goal in Calgary seemed to be finding his quarterback son a team he could actually make.

How about flamboyant stock promoter Murray Pezim, who rode into Vancouver back in '89 with Wife No. 4 in tow. Literally.

Pezim's wife, wearing jersey No. 4, conducted the B.C. Lions ceremonial opening kickoff.

"I'll never forget it," Murphy chuckled.

Three years later, Pezim stopped paying the bills.

SAVED FROM EXTINCTION

Of course, Pezim came along when the Lions were going broke as a community-owned team. Larry Ryckman probably saved Calgary from extinction in '91, too.

"They saved the franchises. There's evidence of that, no question," Murphy said.

Clouding the issue in Winnipeg is the need for a new or improved stadium, and someone willing to help pay for it.

"There's no question that does complicate things," Murphy said.

Bottom line: if the Bombers have no other option, they'd better choose the right person to sell to.

"He'd better be a very reliable person," Murphy said. "And one who can suck it up when things don't go well."


Videos

Photos