Reinebold feels Kelly's pain

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:04 AM ET

His name hasn't come up this much since he was fired in October 1998, and it's actually a good thing.

The way the Mike Kelly era is going, Jeff Reinebold's legacy is getting better every day.

"Well, that's one good thing about this season," the notorious ex-Bomber head coach told the Sun said earlier this week.

Chants of "We want Reinebold! We want Reinebold!" rained down from the stands during the Bombers' 55-10 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday. Fans wrote the same thing on the bags they put on their heads.

"Stop it! Get the heck out of here!" Reinebold said in disbelief. "I told my mother not to do that. I told her not to start that chant."

He's kidding, of course, but his light-hearted nature is the reason why the Kelly era seems to have more of an angry tone to it than the Reinebold era did, according to one veteran observer who witnessed both.

Reinebold, now the receivers coach at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, guided the Bombers to six wins in 32 games before getting the axe in October '98. He didn't, however, receive the kind of backlash that Kelly is getting these days after his 3-7 start and his sometimes confrontational approach off the field.

Reinebold was not referring to Kelly's situation when asked why he never felt such nasty heat.

"We, as a team at that time, no matter how bad it got, we never turned on the fans," Reinebold said. "That's really important. The one thing that I regret out of my time there, is I can remember this happened on the radio show, and a caller called in and was, you know, frustrated. And I snapped back at him on the phone.

"And I thought to myself, after I went home and thought about it, what a dumb thing to do. The guy only called because he cares. He's passionate enough to care, and then you try and belittle the guy because he cares.

"I made plenty of mistakes, but that was the one I probably regret the most. It was a privilege to have that job."

It should be noted that Reinebold was unaware that Kelly has had numerous run-ins with callers on his weekly radio show and stopped taking calls. Reinebold said it's too bad it has come to that with the fans.

"I can understand how he can be that frustrated, but it's unfortunate because they're your shareholders, they're the ones that are paying your salary, they're the ones that care enough to buy the hats and come to the games," Reinebold said.

"When it's good, they're going to love you just as much as they don't when it's bad."

The bottom line is Reinebold empathizes with Kelly, because he's been there before.

"When I sat in that chair and was going through the same thing, the pain that you felt, the sadness that you felt or the hurt that you felt, was not for yourself," he said.

"It's for the fact that you recognize how important that franchise is to those people and your inability to give them what they want. They want to feel good about that football team. They want to feel good about being a Bomber fan."


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