November 22, 2011
Bombers true believers
By Paul Friesen, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - I ran the last pass pattern at the old stadium, Sunday night. It was a down-and-out in the south end zone, in the dark, with a perfect spiral delivered by Sun compadre, Jim Bender.
No, I didn’t drop it.
Just like the Blue Bombers didn’t fumble their chance to make history in the final season of the place.
With a day for reflection, that smothering, 19-3 win over poor Kevin Glenn and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats hasn’t lost any of its significance.
It was a win the Bombers had to have to make 2011 a success.
So pats on the back all around: from Coach LaPo, who’s taken his share of second-guessing in this space, to GM Joe Mack, who came into town so far removed from the CFL we wondered if he thought this would be an easy retirement gig.
In Mack’s first go-round with the Big Blue he found players for then-head coach Cal Murphy and GM Paul Robson, winning the 1984 Grey Cup his first year and helping the Bombers win it again in ’88, a year after he’d left.
More than two decades later, Mack was coaxed back north by none other than Robson to restore order to a franchise that had sunk to a new low under Mike Kelly.
Consider it restored.
But what now?
What is this team’s destiny?
“We’re going to find out in seven days,” O-lineman Steve Morley said, after the win over the Tabbies. “It will definitely be another dogfight. We’re going to have our hands full. But it’s possible.”
That’s the uncanny thing about these Bombers. They seem to think anything’s possible.
Maybe it’s the old theory of being too young to know better. How else do you explain going from 4-14 to this?
“I just wanted to get to the Grey Cup my first year,” one of the newbies, Jason Vega, said. “Put these guys, like Doug Brown and Terrence Edwards, out on a good note.”
The Brown angle seems to have seeped into the consciousness of all his teammates, now.
But No. 97 isn’t the only Bomber getting one last shot at a ring in a diamond-studded, blue-and-gold setting.
He’s just the only one who knows it for sure.
“You never know when you’ll get another opportunity,” Edwards, 32, said. “I got here in ’07 and we went that first year — and haven’t been back since. When you get up past 30, you never know.”
Just like you never know when a career-threatening injury (hello, Joe Lobendahn and Fred Reid) strikes. Or when the business of football is going to knock on your door and ask you to turn in your playbook.
You don’t think long snapper Chris Cvetkovic, at 34, is as desperate for a championship as Brown?
No wonder he was unapologetic about fawning all over the East Division Championship trophy, Sunday, not only eschewing the hockey superstition of not touching it, but threatening to take it home to molest it.
Morley, at 30, had never even suited up for a playoff game. Think he expects to get several cracks at the Cup?
“Growing up in Halifax, as a kid you always see the playoffs and the Grey Cup,” he said. “You kind of think you can get there, but you never realize it until it happens. It’s like a dream come true.”
Next to Morley in the trenches is Obby Khan, who at 31 just got a taste of the fragility of the job, demoted to bench-warmer status late in the season.
“It’s not written, yet,” Khan said of this team’s destiny. “I hope it goes down in the ages as one of the teams to remember. We’ve battled through a lot. We gotta go one more. If we don’t get that one more, it won’t be fulfilled.”
That one more will, like all those before it, depend so much on those who are too young to know better. Those who don’t think twice about what the 2011 Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ destiny is.
“Exactly what it was from the beginning of the season,” 24-year-old Deon Beasley said. “A championship.”
Of course. It’s that simple.
Just like catching a down-and-out in the dark.