Welcome to Toilet Bowl

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

The first thing you noticed when you arrived at yesterday's Blue Bomber workout was the fences. The ones that separate the crowd from the team when it leaves the field.

They were being moved back about 10 yards. And reinforced, with permanent posts drilled into the concrete.

Not sure if that's a coincidence, but the picture it paints might just say it all about the state of this team going into tonight's game against the Argonauts.

With both of them 3-8, woe is the one that loses.

And if it's the home team ...

"I was just thinking about it, and I'm like, wow, one of these teams is going to be 3-9," Bomber D-lineman Doug Brown said.

"And to be buried so deep that it's almost a write-off for the year. It just better not be us. That's the apprehension for this game."

We thought the Bombers reached rock-bottom in the Banjo Bowl loss to Saskatchewan, two weeks ago.

But if they can't even beat Toronto in their own back yard, who in the name of the Shreveport Pirates can they expect to beat the rest of the season?

This is what it's come down to for a team that, going into the year, just needed some "tinkering", according to head coach Mike Kelly: the proverbial Toilet Bowl to determine the worst team in the league.

Flush two more points down the drain tonight and it'll be awfully hard to wipe the memory of the '09 season from anyone's brain for a while.

In that way, perhaps the Bombers have more to lose than the Argos, who don't get nearly the attention in the land of the Blue Jays and Maple Leafs as the CFL team does here.

"There's obviously a passionate fan base here, and there's a lot of things that have gone wrong this season," Brown said. "And it caught a lot of people off guard.

"Do we have more to lose? It's a lot easier to get lost in Toronto and be anonymous. You're a Winnipeg Blue Bomber and you have a bad season, you wear that on your sleeve all year, the guys that live here. It's a stain that doesn't erase until something else can counteract it on the other end."

Brown, who turns 35 next week, is one of those who lives here, year-round. It must darn near kill him to see his career winding down like this.

In 13 years of pro football, the former NFLer says he's never experienced a year so clouded by turmoil.

"If you took all the incidents (from the first 12) and put them all together, then maybe we're on par with the pandemonium that's transpired here this year," he said. "It's been unique."

In a weird kind of way, the circus atmosphere -- player/coach clashes, controversial moves, front-office bunglings -- has taken some heat off the players after bad games.

"We don't usually end up talking about it (the game)," Brown said. 'Cause there's so much other sh-- going on."

And it's not even close to being over.

Which brings us back to the game, a late Saturday night affair on a perfect night for beer drinking, before a crowd that is rarely more than a turnover away from unruliness.

After keeping ticket sales quiet for a couple of days, the Bombers gulped and issued an update yesterday: they've "cracked" the 21,000 mark. The worst crowd of the season.

Fitting, I suppose (memo to club president Lyle Bauer: you might want to black this one out).

"What we're counting on is our 13th player will be the difference for us," Kelly said. "I know the fans we have will be positive for us."

Depends on the results, coach.

One thing's for sure, professor: regardless of what happens, you'll have a little more breathing room on that long walk to the locker-room after the game.

After that, I wouldn't be so sure.

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


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