Mike Kelly continues to put his kind of stamp on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, bringing in a player personnel man who thinks along the same lines as the new head coach.
John Murphy, a well-known talent evaluator in the U.S. who befriended Kelly eight years ago, will be introduced today as the Bombers' new man in charge of finding talent.
He takes over for Brendan Taman, who resigned earlier this month after a decade at the helm.
Murphy, a 36-year-old who lives in New Orleans, made his name in the U.S. at the collegiate and minor-league levels but knows the CFL well, having spent the past two seasons as the Calgary Stampeders' assistant director scouting and, for two years before that, the U.S. college scout for the Montreal Alouettes.
It should be noted that those two teams played in last November's Grey Cup, with Murphy's Stampeders emerging victorious.
The Hofstra grad promises to bring in the kind of players Kelly wants to put on the turf at Canad Inns Stadium.
"I really like what coach said," Murphy said yesterday from Texas. "If you're not there to be competitive, if you don't want to fight for your job, if you're not there to really develop a team continuity there that may have been lacking at certain points the last couple of years -- where things seemed like they were going one way and then all of a sudden went a complete different way -- we'll find somebody who is doing that."
Murphy's first foray into the football business was as a stringer for a radio station on Long Island in New York, where he was born and raised. He jumped at every chance to cover the New York Jets with the intention of getting into scouting talent.
"I would offer to do it because to get a credential to different things meant you had a shot to interact with the people I wanted to interact with," he said.
In 1999 he started a company called Next Level Scouting Inc., which supplied information about college prospects to all 32 NFL teams. He has also served on the selection committee for the East-West Shrine Game since 2002.
Murphy also spent time working in pro personnel with the Oakland Raiders, and he helped create the Texas vs. The National All-Star Challenge in 2007. He has coached at the minor-league level, he was one of the creative forces behind the NFL Draft Bible, and he has written columns for Yahoo! Sports.
Basically, there isn't much he hasn't done in the football scouting world.
"He's a guy that is very informed," Alouettes GM Jim Popp said yesterday. "He's around a lot of places, at different bowl games and things that have been going on.
"So he's got quite a source of branches out there. That's only positive."
Murphy said the Bombers will value their Canadian draft picks more, and, like Kelly has said, he believes anyone who wears Blue and Gold better be prepared to work hard and represent the team well.
"I'm not there to bring character questions or character issues to Winnipeg," he said. "I'm not there to bring guys that are not going to be community oriented, guys who are going to show up out of shape, guys that are just going to show up for a paycheque.
"There's too many good players out there, and there's too many good people in the city and in the province of Manitoba to bring them anything less than a Grey Cup character team.
"... We're going to win. That's not a question, that's not a statement, that's not a goal. But the reason that you're going to win is because of the work that's gonna be put into it. It's not a 9-to-5 gig, and anybody who treats it that way should not be in Winnipeg."