WINNIPEG - Blue Bomber GM Joe Mack opened Tuesday by addressing his team and explaining his reasons for firing head coach Paul LaPolice.
The explanation was needed, as players and coaches were caught off guard by the move.
“It didn’t surprise me — it shocked me,” receiver Terrence Edwards said. “Mr. Mack came in and said, ‘Have I got your attention?’ I tell the players the next people to go is the players. They’re not going to fire coach Burke.”
Quarterback Joey Elliott wasn’t expecting the move, either, despite a 2-6 record.
“I was pretty surprised,” Elliott said. “Obviously it shook up our whole team, when your head guy is gone.
“That’s (Mack’s) job to get his players’ attention. And he did that. He said, ‘I got your attention?’ And we all said, ‘Yes, sir.’ He’s a man with a mission and a plan and a view and a vision, and we’re just trying to fulfill that.”
Offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton says he didn’t see the move coming.
“I was surprised. All the good things he did last year, getting to the Grey Cup and the adversity he went through,” Crowton said. “But this is a tough sport. A tough business.”
New boss Tim Burke was happy to see the enthusiasm cranked up in his first practice.
“They bought into the way we were going to practice right away,” Burke said. “It’ll probably taper off somewhere in the future. But that’s where I start yelling.”
BIG PICTURE NO-NO
Burke says he won’t say a word to his players about the playoff race.
“We’re never going to talk about the future,” he said. “We’re going to talk about today and we’re going to talk about our opponent this week, and that’s all we’re ever going to talk about.”
Mysterious “upper” and “lower body” injuries appear to be a thing of the past, as Burke had no trouble revealing corner Jovon Johnson has a tailbone injury.
Johnson is expected to play, Sunday, along with D-lineman Bryant Turner, who Burke says is taking a couple of “Vega days off.”
“That’s an inside joke,” the coach said. “Jason Vega takes days off every now and then.”
The coach says he’ll count on a couple players to help him make in-game decisions, but he wouldn’t reveal which ones... There’s a possibility he’ll add a coach on defence to pick up some of the slack... He won’t be moving into LaPolice’s office this season.
“When you’re younger you tend to be fearless and you think you can’t do any wrong. When you’re my age you know you can screw up a lot.” — Burke on being ready for the head job.