No better Bomber than Johnson

Blue Bombers cornerback/kick returner Jovon Johnson is Paul Friesen's pick for Most Outstanding...

Blue Bombers cornerback/kick returner Jovon Johnson is Paul Friesen's pick for Most Outstanding Player. (QMI Agency)

Paul Friesen, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:08 PM ET

Happy birthday, Jovon Johnson.

Or should that be, happy birthday M.O.P.

Wednesday’s the day we find out the top player award nominees from each team, and there’s a better than average chance the Winnipeg Blue Bombers nominee for the big prize — the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award — will go to Johnson, who celebrates birthday No. 28 the same day.

“MOP on my birthday, that’d be sweet,” Johnson said, Tuesday, as the Bombers began their last regular season week of practice.

It would help pay some bills, too, as Johnson has a bonus clause in his contract calling for extra green if he’s named the Big Blue’s top player.

For the record, he got my vote.

But as I filled out the ballot I couldn’t help but think this wasn’t a good sign.

Whether he wins the nominee or not, the very inclusion of Johnson’s name in the conversation says a lot about the state of these Bombers.

I mean, a cornerback shouldn’t be your top player, mainly because he doesn’t have an impact on the vast majority of plays.

Going into the season, I’d have said quarterback Buck Pierce needed to be this team’s MOP, but he’s been plagued with bumps, bruises and bouts of interceptitus.

If it’s not your quarterback, it should be the tailback.

The last time we saw Fred Reid, however, he was nursing a shredded knee and a lousy, 4.2-yard average.

Receivers? Nobody’s stood out. It’s hard to when your offence is among the league’s bottom-feeders much of the season.

So go ahead, try to name a better candidate than Johnson.

“I see no fault in occasionally looking to the dark side of the line of scrimmage to anoint those awards,” D-lineman Doug Brown said. “It’s a burden you wear proudly.”

Earlier this season, Joe Lobendahn and Odell Willis were strong candidates, but the former blew out his knee and the latter got a part-time seat on the bench for being one dimensional.

So we’re left with Johnson. Or maybe fellow defensive back Jonathan Hefney.

“I would obviously pick myself, first,” a grinning Johnson said. “But if it wasn’t me, I’d take Jonathan. He’s been tremendous.”

Maybe they should just give it to the entire trash-talking, swaggering defence.

Or leave the nomination unfilled. It’s not like the winner will have a hope against whoever comes out of Montreal, anyway.

The only thing more perplexing than this MOP thing is trying to figure out how the Bombers are going to play, week to week.

If you’ve figured that out, there’s a booth with a crystal ball and some tarot cards waiting for you at some carnival, somewhere.

Not even Brown, who’s as old as dirt, can figure it out.

“All year we’ve been disappointing people by losing the games we should have won, and we’ve been surprising people by winning the games that everyone counted us out for,” Brown said, admitting he’s never been on a team quite like it. “I can’t get a handle on the inconsistencies.”

On one hand, this looks like a Grey Cup contender, winning the season series against all three opponents in the East.

But Grey Cup contenders don’t lose four games to this year’s Riders and Argos, do they?

“If we’d won three of those, we’d already have 13 (wins),” Brown lamented. “Man, I’d be sittin’ in a lawn chair, drinkin’ a beer right now, getting myself situated for a game in about a month.”

Instead, the Bombers could easily be forced to play the East semifinal in just over a week, probably without Pierce at the controls.

Unless they pull off the unlikely, again, and win in Calgary this weekend, which happens about as often as a brown Christmas around here.

I guess the good news is, they’ll have their MOP in the lineup.

Whoever that is. 


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