WINNIPEG - Doug Brown’s been around. He knows what was really happening Friday night at Canad Inns Stadium.
The veteran Bombers defensive tackle didn’t play in the win over Edmonton due to a sore foot, so he had a front-row seat for the smothering effort the residents of Swaggerville, also known as Winnipeg’s defensive dozen, delivered.
“Something happens when you start a T-shirt company, man,” Brown said with a chuckle. “All they were doing was investing in their business. They’re selling Swaggerville T-shirts, and they gotta live up to it on the field. All they were doing was selling T-shirts. That’s all they were doing in the back end, OK?”
Yes, the residents of Swaggerville (incorporated in 2009) are pushing T-shirts for 25 bucks a pop, and fans can buy them by hitting up the players on Twitter.
Swaggerville isn’t just a fictional location; it’s an attitude. And it’s an attitude that should be putting fear in opposing offences. The Bombers have 25 sacks; B.C. is next with 14. Odell Willis has eight sacks, which is as many as Toronto and Calgary, and one more than Montreal.
The defence is allowing 18.8 points and 289.5 yards per game, both of which are league lows, and it has a CFL-best 10 interceptions.
And they’re not afraid to let you know about it, either. Led by frenetic halfback Jonathan Hefney, the members of the defence are not afraid to talk a little trash after a sack or a tackle, and they’ve been involved in more than a few skirmishes after the whistle.
Head coach Paul LaPolice hasn’t put the reins on them yet, because he doesn’t feel they’ve crossed the line.
“Part of what makes them good is they’re competitors,” LaPolice said. “Hefney’s about as competitive a kid as I’ve seen in a long time.
“You get one day a week to have fun. They can only talk once a week, and that’s game night.”
One of the founding members of Swaggerville, cornerback Jovon Johnson, admits they’re having a blast on the field. He thinks that’s why the Bomber defence is dominant.
“We just have fun. It’s electric out there,” Johnson said. “When we’re having fun it’s hard for anybody to compete against us.
“We knew what (the Eskimos) were going to do coming in, but our secondary, we don’t ever back down from a challenge.”
That includes 5-foot-7 defensive back Alex Suber throwing punches with 6-foot-3, 319-pound Eskimos offensive lineman Aaron Fiacconi late in Friday’s game after he had blocked Fiacconi’s teammate, Fred Stamps.
“I guess he didn’t like that, and he came after me and pushed me in the back,” Suber said. “I guess he thought I was going to back up or go run off the field or something.”
It also includes starting a business in the midst of a winning streak that has Bomber fans believing in the team for the first time in a while.
“They’re personifying what the words on the shirt say. They’re making people believe in the product. They’re all businessmen. They’re motivated by the dollar. They weren’t out there to win (Friday). They were out there selling T-shirts,” Brown said with a laugh.
“That was Swaggerville. They want everyone to know that for 25 dollars you can be a part of Swaggerville, population expanding rapidly and exponentially.”