Another near miss

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:12 AM ET

The bullets no longer flying, Brendan Taman emerged from the foxhole, looked himself over and declared it little more than a flesh wound.

To which some disgruntled Bomber fans are, no doubt, saying, "Rats -- we missed him again."

What is it about Taman that allows him to survive the firing of three head coaches and a personal Grey Cup drought now at 10 years?

Start with his ego, or lack of it. This is a guy who used to call himself the vp of pp (vice president of player personnel).

With a personality to match his sweatpants and ball cap, Taman could get along with almost any head coach, which is why the transition from Dave Ritchie to Jim Daley to Doug Berry was so seamless.

Even after his promotion to GM in 2003, Taman still had a habit of acquiescing to his coach's desires (see the release of Troy Westwood, the trade of Charles Roberts, etc.).

Hard ass? Hardly.

But that's part of his problem.

Taman was no more cut out to be a GM than he was cut out to wear a suit to the office every day.

Just because you're a good teacher doesn't mean you'd make a good principal. And being a sharp personnel man doesn't mean you'll be a great GM.

Yesterday, the GM tag was still hanging from Taman's sweats, but just by a thread. As soon as the Bombers hand their new football boss the keys to the place, Taman reverts to his pre-2003 personnel role, which is where he should have been all along.

As likeable as the man is, he's not a leader. As funny as he is, he's not dynamic. And as blunt as he can be, he doesn't have a ruthless bone in his body.

He didn't come out and say it, but Taman didn't want Berry fired. We got the distinct impression he recommended the Bombers stick with Berry for a fourth season.

He did admit he was "a little caught off guard" by the firing, clearly spurred by Lyle Bauer, the team's president/CEO.

So in many ways, Taman was a GM in name only. Officially above the head coach, but still taking direction from him. When it came to the decision to retain him, he was vetoed from above.

So why is Taman still employed by the Bombers?

Because there's not a better right-hand man in the business. He's the master of the quick fix, which is invaluable in the CFL.

Want to trade your hall-of-fame running back, mid-season? He'll get you last year's leading rusher, Joe Smith.

Desperately need a middle linebacker after losing two to injury, 10 games in? He'll get you CFL all-star Zeke Moreno.

Figure your kicker is aging and should be replaced?

Well, two out of three ain't bad.

Taman never did try hard enough to find the heir apparent to Troy Westwood, and the jury's still out on Alexis Serna.

But you can add Romby Bryant and Joe Lobendahn to the list of Taman finds. The guy digs up rookie-of-the-year candidates like a squirrel digs up acorns.

As for that five-year experiment to give him more responsibility, well, let's just say that as an executive he made a good personnel guy.

"You go in cycles in this business," Taman said, reacting to the demotion as if it were just another bad hair day. "At least I'm employed, so that's not a bad thing."

As for how he'd deal with a pay cut, assuming it comes with the demotion, Taman came up with a typical response.

"Pay less taxes."

Taman was the same whether he was the rising star -- remember, Bauer gave him the GM title to keep him out of the clutches of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats -- or the vp of pp.

The Bombers could do a lot worse than put him back in his comfort zone.

It goes better with the sweats and ball cap, anyway.


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