Bombers comfortable in underdog role
By Paul Friesen, QMI Agency
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers' (L-R) Ibrahim Khan, Alex Suber, and Henoc Muamba celebrate with the Eastern Divisional trophy after they defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in their CFL Eastern final football game in Winnipeg, Manitoba, November 20, 2011. (REUTERS/Todd Korol)
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers haven’t been the oddsmakers’ choice most of the season, and they don’t expect that’ll change for Sunday’s Grey Cup.
An early spread (Bet365.com) had the B.C. Lions as 6.5-point favourites, Monday.
But are the Lions the league’s darlings, as well?
During Sunday night’s presentation of the West Division Championship trophy, CFL commissioner Mark Cohon sure sounded like he was pulling for the home team.
“You guys are hosting the Grey Cup,” Cohon told Wally Buono, his arm around the Lions head coach/GM. “Now you can bring it home to your fans. It’s amazing. Good luck next week.”
“I’m sure we all make mistakes when we talk,” Winnipeg head coach Paul LaPolice said, Monday. “I don’t think he was saying they’re definitely going to win it or anything.”
No, but the Lions, owned by CFL power broker David Braley, who also saved the Toronto Argonauts by buying them, might be a boardroom favourite, considering the franchise is always struggling to draw fans in the same market as the Vancouver Canucks.
Big-city teams don’t usually draw the same support as those on the prairies. They need a winner.
And the Lions have a chance to cap a storybook season by taking the Cup at home.
“I’m sure everyone out there in B.C. feels playing at home, they have a great opportunity,” Bomber quarterback Buck Pierce said. “That’s fine if everyone else feels that way, but I know everyone in this organization and in our locker-room, we know different and we don’t feel that way.”
As for being the betting underdog again, the Bombers wouldn’t have it any other way.
“That’s what we’ve been all year and we like where we are,” Pierce said.
“It’s typical,” added corner Jovon Johnson. “It’s something we expect going into B.C. They’re playing at home. They’ll have their fans there. With that being said, we’ve still got a game to play. And we’re going to go out there and give it our best.”
Linebacker Marcellus Bowman had another take, perhaps pointing to the Bombers’ 4-7 record since, and including, Labour Day.
“With the way we’ve been playing lately, I’m not even upset with that kind of a prediction,” Bowman said.