Blue Bombers muzzled

New Bomber coach Mike Kelly wants to muzzle his players, restrict their access to the media and...

New Bomber coach Mike Kelly wants to muzzle his players, restrict their access to the media and have complete control over every message that leaves the organization. (Sun Media/Jordan Verlage)

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:14 AM ET

"A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."

-- John F. Kennedy

If Mike Kelly wants to quote JFK, we're only too happy to oblige.

Trouble is, I'm not sure the Blue Bombers head coach is going to like our selections.

Free speech? The guy wants to muzzle his players, restrict their access to the media and have complete control over every message that leaves the organization.

We know this because Kelly says so in an 1,100-word statement on the fan forum of bluebombers.com, the team's website. A statement that opens with a Kennedy quote about the risks of inaction.

The coach took the unusual step in order to defend/explain his attack on former GM Brendan Taman earlier this week, an attack we brought you exclusively in the pages of the Sun and on our website, complete with the audio.

At times, Kelly actually accounts of himself quite well in his statement, even issuing an apology, of sorts, to Taman.

Where he loses us, though is when he vows to put muzzles on his players as if they were wild dogs, prone to bite at the first opportunity.

"Our players will no longer be providing the media with their personal phone numbers," Kelly writes. "The Bombers will control the message. The 'tail' will no longer 'wag the dog.' "

Huh?

How can the head of an organization that needs all the public support it can get -- and is community-owned, no less -- decree that we, the media, shouldn't be allowed to generate stories on our own, particularly during a long, cold off-season?

If that's how the Bombers operated, you, the fans, wouldn't get players talking about becoming free agents, why they might want to stay or leave.

You wouldn't get their instant reaction to news that happens after business hours, like the trade of Charles Roberts.

You wouldn't have read Doug Brown's reaction in the morning paper, back in September, to teammate Jovon Johnson's brother being shot to death less than 48 hours earlier.

Here's some news for Kelly: that's how the Manitoba Moose run their operation and sometimes it prevents people like me from writing about them.

Here's another one from JFK:

"The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings."

Unless we run a community-minded football team.

Apparently, Kelly isn't impressed when news of player signings leaks out before the Bombers are ready to announce them.

Well, guess what, coach: all that means is that people care, they want to know -- and we're doing a good job of finding things out.

Embrace it. Use it to your advantage. Don't try to squelch it.

And here I thought Kelly was going to be a "media darling."

Actually, it didn't take long for the guy to raise a few eyebrows. Day 1, to be exact, when he told the assembled media "we're all going to do this together."

The next time he met reporters here he did it again: "We're all in this thing together. I want us all to walk shoulder-to-shoulder together ..."

I guess that's off, eh coach?

Memo: your job is to win a Grey Cup. Ours' is to question, critique, inform and entertain.

That last part has been easy, this week.

From Kelly's lobbing of grenades at Taman to his latest post on the web, he's making our job a cinch.

Which brings us to JFK, one last time:

"My experience in government," Kennedy once said. "Is that when things are non-controversial and beautifully co-ordinated, there is not much going on."

Amen.


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