Starved for success

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:14 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- It's Bob Ackles Day here on the West Coast.

Forgive Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive tackle Doug Brown for sounding insensitive, but it's not foremost on his mind.

What's consuming him is his own squad, which is standing at the edge of the proverbial cliff.

"We're going to stop looking for reasons why the other team is more motivated than we are," Brown said.

"We just need to come out here and understand the gravity of our situation and the urgency at stake and that if this hole gets any deeper, we're going to need a crane to get us out of it."

The B.C. Lions (1-2) will honour their late president and CEO with a ceremony after tonight's game against the 0-3 Bombers (9 p.m., TSN/CJOB).

Nearly 33,000 tickets had been sold as of yesterday morning, and team officials are hoping for 40,000 spectators under the dome at B.C. Place. That would be the largest regular-season crowd since Ackles came back to the Lions in 2002 and helped return the organization to glory.

The Lions pummelled the Bombers 42-24 at Canad Inns Stadium last Friday, five days after Ackles died of a heart attack. Lions GM and head coach Wally Buono believes the dynamic won't be the same for his team tonight.

"Will the emotions be different? I'd be foolish to think they won't be," Buono said yesterday, moments after Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan made the Bob Ackles Day proclamation. "That's where I believe the advantage comes to us, because that energy will help generate energy within the players."

Brown, meanwhile, isn't sure how much the Ackles effect will have on the Leos.

"I'm not sure what they're going through, what he meant to them," said Brown, who will play tonight with a broken left thumb. "There are guys on this team still who probably don't even know who Lyle Bauer is, who is the same guy in the position over here.

"So I don't know what kind of relationships their players had with him or anything like that. But they're a good team either way. I don't think they necessarily need to be playing off of such a fervour in order to do well."

Running back Stefan Logan rushed for 143 yards against the Bombers last week in his CFL debut and will start again tonight in place of the injured Joe Smith. He never met Ackles, but he and his teammates will still be thinking of him tonight.

"The team's going to come out and play hard for him," Logan said.

Not only that, but the Lions are also well aware of the fact that, like the Bombers, they're all alone in last place in their division.

"We're still hungry, too," said slotback Geroy Simon, who had seven catches for 192 yards last week. "We're still out to prove we're a good team."

That's not good news for the Bombers, who have plunged to their lowest point since head coach Doug Berry took over three seasons ago. Simply put, the offence can't score, the defence can't stop the other team from scoring, and special teams turnovers have led to opposition touchdowns.

It's so bad that Brown heads straight to his Lindenwoods house whenever possible.

"I just don't go out, man," he said. "I understand how passionate people (in Manitoba) are about their football, and when we're not performing up to par and standard, you feel the shame when you go out.

"You don't want to see the disappointment, more so than anything, on people's faces, man, because you gotta wait a whole week every time before you can try and do something about it. It's hard to do, because you know how much people care in the community about our successes on the field.

"The football team's an extension of a lot of people's personas and just how they carry themselves. Right now we're letting them down, and we need to do something about that."


Videos

Photos