WINNIPEG - Doug Brown’s final trip to Edmonton this weekend as a pro football player will be different than any of the many he has made there before.
In the past, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive tackle knew that the Eskimos boasted both a winning tradition and that maddening grass field that was ripped out before the 2010 season started.
“I’ve talked about that before — the mystique and lore of the grass field,” Brown said Thursday. “All those distractions you had as a player going out to Edmonton and just being frustrated at Commonwealth field. They wouldn’t let you go test your shoes the day before and you had to run over to the park and everything. A little bit of the mystique and magic of that place is gone but you know, it’s still a top facility and obviously, they’ve got a really good team.”
But Brown will also be making the trip as a member of one of the top teams in the CFL for the first time in ages, one that will have a chance to establish a mystique of its own this year. The Bombers will embark upon their most important four games of the CFL season, starting with Saturday’s contest with the Eskimos. Win all four and they finish first in the East and get a bye into the final, which would be played in Winnipeg. Or finish second and host the semifinal. They could even finish third yet.
“The question mark now is, with the playoffs guaranteed, is this the team that aspires for more?” Brown said. “Or, are we happy to rest on the accolades of making the playoffs? I’m sure everyone understands the premise of what lies ahead of us if we do the work to be successful.”
Winnipeg’s final three games will be against Montreal, Toronto and Calgary.
“Our goal is to get first in the East,” said Bomber quarterback Buck Pierce. “We put ourselves in a position all year to not let these four games go. We have to capitalize. We’ve worked hard to get to where we are and we need to play well. That’s our ultimate goal. Our ultimate goal is first place to put ourselves into a good position for November.
“All of this will be forgotten if we don’t finish this the way we need to … I think we understand what’s at stake and how achievable it is.”
The ultimate goal, of course, is to get to the Grey Cup game as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
“We just want to make sure we play our playoff game here, and it’s just one game and you’re in the Cup,” said Winnipeg head coach Paul LaPolice. “You don’t want to play in other places. You don’t want to go and play indoors in Montreal or you don’t want to play in Hamilton, so that’s what our focus is on.”
Getting to that game would be a way for the Bombers to start creating their own lore.