'Enough's enough'

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

He never recruited a great quarterback, couldn't find a kicker and didn't bring a Grey Cup title to Winnipeg.

Those warts will go with Brendan Taman forever, scars, if you will, from a decade of fighting the good fight for the Blue Bombers.

But the battle -- the late nights, the seven-day work weeks, the 365-day commitment to keeping your finger on the pulse of the football world -- also took a less visible, but deeper, toll.

This past weekend, Taman did what so few people in this tough man's game ever do. He went down on one knee, and took himself out.

"I've let the job drive me more so than I've driven the job," Taman was saying yesterday. "I'm probably not the only one. But I'm probably one of the few that have stood up and said enough's enough."

Taman was holed up at a hotel lobby, near the stadium he'd called home for 10 years, but not too close, where the farewell hugs from staff members would invariably lead to tears. He wasn't quite ready for that.

But he honestly seemed relieved.

To understand why a man would leave a job like his -- Taman was definitely not pushed -- you have to understand how consuming it can be.

There's no going home at the end of the day, turning the TV on and the job off. The cell phone won't allow it.

There are no drawn-out, romantic dinners with the girl friend. Not with your BlackBerry humming with what could be a call from a player agent.

There are no vacations, weekends at the lake or even Christmas holidays.

The personal toll is relentless.

Count the number of failed marriages in the average football front office and you'd think you were in Hollywood.

Taman freely admits the game had a hand in costing him a relationship, and was costing him his health.

Just check out the photos at winnipegsun.com. A scrawny, thirty-something when he first joined the Bombers as assistant GM in 1999, Taman has gained probably 40 pounds over the last five years.

"I don't eat well," he said. "I don't eat worth a crap. It's cost me enough as it as. Luckily, I'm semi-good, so far. But I'm going to go to a doc and see how bad a shape I really am. I'm going to do some walking, and get some golfing in for the first time in a long time."

A summer off.

Just saying the words gets the guy excited.

The way he used to get excited about seeing the new CFL schedule every winter.

Taman knew he was in trouble when a rough draft of the 2009 sked came out a few weeks ago, and he couldn't have cared less.

Some intense soul-searching, and lots of discussion with Bauer, who did everything but try to talk him out of it, led Taman to the unavoidable conclusion he was burned out.

"I'm pretty proud of myself that I can actually recognize that and be healthy about it, and learn and move on," he said. "After 20 years of doing it, 10 in Winnipeg, I just reached a point where I need some normality back in my life. I'm a pretty private guy, normally, in a pretty public job.

"I just want to get back to being a normal guy again."

It probably didn't help that he faced another rebuilding job under a new head coach. Or the thought that he was next on the chopping block, should '09 start like '08 did. Someone in the business once told him you always stay one step ahead of the axe.

But Taman, who I've often said understood the media better than anybody in the business, apparently has a pretty good understanding of himself, too.

He saw a train wreck coming, and chose to get off.

Sure, he'll lose close to $200,000. But he's more worried about the personal cost.

Another CFL team called him yesterday, ready to offer a job. Taman said thanks, but no thanks.

He's got some plans, after all.

"Golf, enjoy the lake and watch football as a fan," he said. "I'll be enjoying it.

"I don't want football to be my life, anymore."


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