Fond memories of Blue

TED WYMAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:26 PM ET

He is the man who spent a decade rebuilding the Winnipeg Blue Bombers before leaving for the Calgary Stampeders after last season.

Heís a cancer survivor who spearheaded the Never Alone Foundation and has become a prominent voice in the growing fight against the disease.

Sun sports editor Ted Wyman goes one-on-one with former Blue Bombers president Lyle Bauer.

WYMAN: Youíre back in town for the fifth annual Never Alone luncheon, Wednesday. Tell us about that event and why itís so important to you.

BAUER: The Never Alone Foundation was founded at the same time I was diagnosed with cancer. And it was a way to give back and support those people who supported me, as well as those who have fought and lost and those who will fight in the future. There are tickets available (779-2441). When you step in that room, youíll laugh, youíll cry ... but one thing I guarantee, you will not leave the same person.

WYMAN: Howís your health today?

BAUER: Five years is a good number for cancer survivors. I guess my being able to attend the fifth annual Never Alone luncheon is a sign things are very, very good. Iím extremely grateful and thankful.

WYMAN: You left the Blue Bombers after 10 years and joined the Stampeders after last season. How does your role compare to the one you had here?

BAUER: The role is very similar. We run the operations, the entire organization. We have a great guy running the football operation in John Hufnagel. But itís a little bit different. Itís not a community-owned team. We have a very good ownership group that is very community-minded, but it is different, no question.

WYMAN: The Bombers struggled to a 4-14 record this season. What are your thoughts after watching that situation from afar?

BAUER: Iím still a fan of the Blue Bombers. It was hard to watch. But one of the things that was somewhat gratifying was that seven of the all-stars that were there are people that were on our roster before. Thereís a good core of players there. I hope things turn around for them. There is no bitterness. I only have fond memories and some great friendships.

WYMAN: Things didnít go all that well for the Bombers in the last two years of your tenure. Do you have any regrets?

BAUER: I donít think anybody foresaw what happened with Mike Kelly. I look at it as the overall time there. We went in there and the Bombers were millions of dollars in debt, and when I left there were millions of dollars in the bank. We hosted a great Grey Cup ... and went to the Grey Cup two times, and we won more games than we lost.

WYMAN: If you could do it all over again, would you still hire Mike Kelly?

BAUER: I probably would hire him. There are some great things that Mike can bring to the table. Mike maybe had some other personal issues that affected (things), but I know thereís no one more passionate about being a Blue Bomber, and thatís important in that organization.

WYMAN: You spent a lot of time trying to get the team a deal for a new stadium. What are your thoughts on the latest twists and turns in that saga?

BAUER: Those are other peopleís issues. We positioned the football team with a very strong business plan for the future. I hope they do get a new stadium. Itís ironic that Iím going through a very similar situation right here with McMahon Stadium, looking at a refurbishment.

WYMAN: Are you disappointed to see David Asperís plan appears to be heading off the rails here?

BAUER: Iím sorry to see the plan hasnít taken off. My hopes and goals were that they would have been playing in it by now. But things take different twists and turns. I hope people will support either a new and improved facility or upgrades to the existing one. Because the Blue Bombers carry the flag for that province and that city across the country and internationally. I donít think you can buy that type of advertising or marketing anywhere else.

WYMAN: Your Stampeders are going up against a Saskatchewan team thatís coming off an incredible win over the B.C. Lions last week. How many Roughrider fans will end up in the building?

BAUER: Thereís a myth that probably needs to be dispelled there. Weíd probably end up with 25% or something along those lines. Thereís a lot of transplanted Saskatchewan people here, including myself. It makes for a very healthy rivalry and a lot of fun. Weíll have a sold-out stadium... who knows, maybe if it gets very good and crazy theyíll tear the place down and weíll get to build a new stadium.


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