Don't get 'crotchety'

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

Another public appearance by Blue Bombers head coach Mike Kelly, another public apology.

No wonder Kelly doesn't make himself very available to the media. If he opened his mouth every day, the Bombers would have to beef up their damage-control department considerably.

The latest faux pas from the first-year boss, if you insist on calling it that -- and I don't, but more on that, later -- came at the Bombers' annual fan forum earlier this week.

During the Q & A period, one fan playfully referred to Saskatchewan as the "crotch of Canada," breaking up the place and drawing these comments from Bombers president/CEO Lyle Bauer:

"Did you say the crotch of Canada?" Bauer asked the fan. "I have never, ever heard that before -- and boy, am I going to use it."

Later, Kelly played off the comment in discussing how the Bombers have signed several former Saskatchewan Roughriders and Edmonton Eskimos.

"We kind of raided the toothless, green, watermelon-helmet-wearing people from the crotch of Canada," Kelly said.

Well, that little bit of jocularity caused all hell to break loose in the land of the combine. It's as if Troy Westwood had come back from retirement to utter another non-apology about banjo-picking inbreds.

Newspaper columnists, bloggers and fans, alike, stuck out their chests and cried foul, accusing Kelly of hitting, ahem, below the belt.

The backlash caused Bauer to issue a formal apology yesterday.

To which I say, "You've got to be kidding."

That, of course, is exactly what the fan was doing. Kidding.

It's what sports fans do everywhere: hurl insults. "Your mother wears army boots" went out years ago, so we've had to come up with something new.

Is trash talk not sacred anymore?

Sure, Kelly, and Bauer too, for that matter, picked up the ball and ran with it. But what were they supposed to do -- send the fan to the corner for a time out?

This was a gathering of Bombers fanatics, people wearing jerseys and pins and waving flags, saying nothing worse than they'd say if they met a melon-head in the parking lot during the Labour Day weekend.

Nothing to get your crotch in a knot about.

"The comments by a fan and our head coach were truly meant in the playful spirit of our great rivalry," Bauer said in a statement, reminding us all he's actually from Saskatchewan, originally.

"We do recognize that some might not have received it in the context in which it was made," the statement continued. "I know there is no disrespect meant by those who made the comments."

Unlike the comments Kelly made about former GM Brendan Taman a while back, when he suggested Taman did all his scouting work on the back of napkins.

Disrespect was smeared all over the place, there.

You may remember Kelly had his knuckles rapped by the CFL, too, when he told reporters he was planning to have his three quarterbacks take part in an off-season workout, which goes against the agreement between the league and its players union.

That was an honest mistake by a rookie.

This latest one? Just a harmless product of a guy who loves the microphone and the interplay with fans.

Relax, Rider Nation.

I kept reading the release from Bauer, hoping for more.

You know, something like, "We sincerely apologize for calling Saskatchewan the crotch of Canada. Everybody knows it's actually the armpit."

I could see it now, coming soon to a stadium near you.

The Crotch Cup.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.


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