Kicking up a fuss

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:24 PM ET

I've got to hand it to Troy Westwood.

About a month into his new gig as a columnist for your favourite sports paper, the former Blue Bomber kicker writes a piece that causes such a stir it results in a players-only meeting.

And I thought that kind of reaction was limited to stuff written in this space.

It was Old Lefty's column this past Sunday that got knickers in a knot, the one in which he laid the blame for the Bombers' woes at the feet of his old head coach, Doug Berry.

The boss has lost the respect of his players, Westwood wrote, citing a couple of examples to prove his point. One was a demoralizing speech Berry apparently gave at the start of the season, after Westwood had been released.

It was this revelation from inside the locker-room that caught the attention of veterans on the team, who called a meeting to lay down the law: Westwood may still be your buddy, but what's said in the locker-room stays in the locker-room.

"What made it a salient article, I suppose, is the fact it was internal -- it was spy-gate in the locker-room," Doug Brown said yesterday. "Our locker-room, that's where we're safe. When stuff comes out of there, whether it's accurate or not, it's just disappointing. And we needed to clarify to guys that, hey, we're a tight-knit group here. We need to keep things internal."

For the record, Brown said Westwood's assertion that Berry has lost the team's respect is not accurate. And he wasn't thrilled to read it, not with the Bombers already staggering under the burden of a 1-6 record.

"I was surprised," Brown said. "I ask myself the same question every time I read or hear something like that: how is that going to help our team? What are you trying to accomplish with that -- are you trying to break us apart? We have enough consternation on our backs already, without people trying to take a leaked rumour or voice out of the locker-room and throw more fuel on the fire."

The D-lineman, who also writes a weekly newspaper column, says he'd never pen a similar article.

We should point out Brown's columns have to pass team censors before making it to print. Westwood, no longer a Bomber employee, has free reign.

"I wish he never did it," Brown concluded.

"But I can't pass judgment on somebody who feels they have the right to express their opinion. I just wish those lines weren't crossed, in terms of trying to get information out of players."

Not surprisingly, the head coach sees the team meeting, led by receiver Milt Stegall, as a positive development.

"They want to be a unit and not be divided," Berry said. "I think they hold the team concept to be special and cherished. It's a great sign."

We'll see.

It was obviously an attempt to hold things together. The fact it was seen as necessary only shows how tenuous this whole situation has become.

The Bombers are so uptight, yesterday they denied Westwood media credentials for tomorrow's game against Hamilton, a petty move if I've ever seen one, and one the CFL should crack down on.

Apparently free speech isn't so free if certain people don't like what you're saying.

It's one thing to try to censor your locker-room.

Another entirely to try it with a member of the media.


Photos