WINNIPEG - The game is still four days away, but the fun has already begun.
B.C. Lions defensive end Brent Johnson went on Vancouver radio station Team 1040 Tuesday morning and took a bit of a shot at Swaggerville, the self-appointed nickname of the Bomber defence.
“I think they should sell some T-shirts while (they) can,” Johnson told hosts Scott Rintoul and Farhan Lalji, before giving the Bomber D a few compliments.
The “mayor” of Swaggerville, CFL sack leader Odell Willis, fired back after learning of Johnson’s shot across the bow.
“Jealousy. Hater. That’s all it is,” Willis said. “People hate on you when they don’t do it and think of it themselves. It ain’t our fault we came up with a young idea. Young minds together, doing something for their football team. Why not? It is what it is.
“We let the old people do all that talking. We’re not worried about what he’s saying.”
The Bombers (5-1) will visit the Lions (1-5) on Saturday night at Empire Field, and there’s no doubt the notion of Swaggerville, specifically the bravado that appears to come with it, doesn’t sit well in other CFL locker-rooms. Members of the defence are selling Swaggerville T-shirts to fans for $25, leading to the comment from Johnson.
Willis said he won’t be any more fired up than normal on Saturday night just because somebody took a shot at Swaggerville.
“It don’t spark a fire,” Willis said. “Who is Brent Johnson? It’s no disrespect towards him, but why would you want to just come out and say something about somebody who’s doing something for their community and their football team?
“I respect him with everything. He’s a football player. He’s been in this, but why doubt somebody trying to do something for their community and their team?”
Willis did some excellent backtracking about Johnson, a 34-year-old in the twilight of a distinguished CFL career in which he was named defensive player of the year in 2006 and most outstanding Canadian in 2005 and 2006. Willis wouldn’t, however, back down from the notion of Swaggerville and all the attention it’s getting.
“Now that we’re winning, it’s a trending topic now,” Willis said. “We’re just going to embrace it and have fun.”
Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice, who is usually about as much fun as a hangnail when it comes to this stuff, actually cracked Tuesday he didn’t have a problem with Swaggerville and its T-shirt sales “as long I get one.”
LaPolice insists his team is doing everything in its power to prepare for Saturday’s night battle, which is a tough game to focus on to begin with considering the bye week follows and some players’ minds are already at home.
“I would say we’re a humble football team, and that’s the way we ended our meeting the other day,” LaPolice said. “Those guys like to have fun on the field, but we will compete. We are not an arrogant group. We’re a very humble group.”