Bombers' Willis taking heat from rivals

Blue Bomber' Odell Willis during team practice. (QMI Agency)

Blue Bomber' Odell Willis during team practice. (QMI Agency)

Ian Busby, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:41 PM ET

They aren't exactly sitting in an underground lair stroking a white cat while cackling with maniacal laughter.

But the members of Swaggerville have given the CFL something it hasn't had in a while: A true villain.

The boasting, chest-thumping Winnipeg Blue Bombers, led by defensive end Odell Willis, are certainly rubbing people the wrong way with some of their antics recently.

This is how the movie plot usually goes, though.

The villain comes out early and strikes fear into the hearts of the masses, starts to take control of the universe, and then wields power with an iron fist.

Eventually, someone takes the villain down ... unless of course this is a Coen Brothers movie.

The 6-1 Blue Bombers may be off plotting their next evil move as the first-place team enjoys a bye week, but they went into the break following a wild week.

It started when B.C. Lions defensive end Brent Johnson said the group that includes defensive backs Jonathan Hefney and Jovon Johnson should sell their T-shirts as quickly as possible before the bubble bursts.

Willis responded by calling Johnson a "hater" and said that he didn't know he who he was, before checking the record books and realizing the future Hall-of-Fame Canadian is the active sack leader.

Out of nowhere, Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive lineman Stevie Baggs (a professional braggart if there ever was one) took a shot at Willis. The blast was played on TSN during the Ticats victory over the Toronto Argonauts.

"Odell, you can hear this?" Baggs said. "I still am the best defensive end in this league. You are playing well right now ... You guys are playing well, but we will do our talking on the field. We will see you guys soon."

During the Bombers' trip to B.C., TSN also got a shot of Arland Bruce bringing out a 'Swag' T-shirt that he had from years ago, a piece of clothing with the definition of swagger on the back.

Willis certainly didn't invent this method of talking a big game and then backing it up with outstanding play.

The Bombers are the ones who have taken it to another level this season.

When you face the Bombers defence, they will come at you hard for 60 minutes, regardless of the score. In the final minutes of the win over the Lions, Willis and the Bombers defence were still bringing the house, despite being up by 13.

Hey, if the Lions were still trying to finish strong, the Bombers had the right as well.

The strange thing about the Swaggerville phenomenon is these players have a much different personality from Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice, who is as intense as anybody in this league but rarely says anything boastful.

"I would say we're a humble football team," 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."

It might be true for the majority of his team, just not the loudest members.

Amazingly, the Bombers defence has thrived the past two weeks without 36-year-old stalwart Doug Brown, who has a broken big toe but should return after the bye week. They also beat the Lions without fellow tackle Dorian Smith, while earning four sacks and getting a ton of pressure on Lions pivots.

The Swaggerville attitude has certainly influenced other parts of the Bombers.

Quarterback Buck Pierce has always played with a confident edge, but he doesn't really buy in to the Bombers rubbing people the wrong way.

"It's important to stay humble and all that," Pierce said. "But we're not an arrogant bunch. And that's what can get misconstrued ... it's more of a mindset. We come to practice every day and we fly around. We don't take days off." 


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