Reinebold feeling blue for Bombers

Former Bombers head coach Jeff Reinebold, who is currently the defensive co-ordinator of the...

Former Bombers head coach Jeff Reinebold, who is currently the defensive co-ordinator of the Montreal Alouettes, feels for Winnipeg and their fans after what has been a dismal season to date. (QMI AGENCY)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:37 AM ET

MONTREAL — Jeff Reinebold has seen this movie before. 

In fact, Reinebold actually played the starring role in a similar horror flick when he was the head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1997 and 1998.

But if you thought the man who was run out of town on his Harley after the Blue Bombers endured some serious struggles was enjoying the current plight of the Winnipeg Football Club, you’d be dead wrong.

All these years later, the defensive co-ordinator of the Montreal Alouettes was feeling sympathy for fans of the Blue and Gold when a group of Winnipeg-based media caught up with him on Sunday afternoon in advance of Monday’s East Division battle at Percival Molson Stadium.

“When I think back on those times, the hardest part of it all was that you recognize that you weren’t getting it done for people that were absolutely passionate about the game,” said Reinebold, whose ban of speaking to the media was lifted earlier this season. “I hurt for them, quite frankly.

“That city was extremely good to me for the years I was there. I have no regrets. It’s one of the things I think back on in my coaching career and I say I was lucky to have had that opportunity.”

Reinebold also sympathizes with what interim head coach Tim Burke is going through after taking over a struggling team mid-season.

“Tim’s handled it extremely well, it’s not easy,” said Reinebold, noting he became a member of the Blue Bombers alumni association about five years ago. “The thing you go back to is that you’re blessed to have the opportunity. I’m sure he didn’t want to get it the way he got it. However you get them, you have to do the best you can. It is very difficult when you’re going through the kind of season they’re going to — I’ve been through two of them.

“But it seems to be that his team has stayed together. They fight hard and they compete.”

Reinebold made it clear he won’t be feeling sorry for the Blue Bombers on Monday afternoon, but confessed that he got that tingly feeling when he was back in Winnipeg earlier this year.

“I got emotional when I went into the place, going downtown to Portage and Main,” said Reinebold. “It’s a great town.”

In case you were wondering, Reinebold didn’t come back to the CFL because his head-coaching stint didn’t go the way he wanted it to.

“It wasn’t like I had to go and even up the score because you never even up the score,” said Reinebold. “The thing you have to understand is that my relationship with the CFL goes back to when I was in college, when I first started to see it on TV when I was at the University of Maine.

“Then as a young coach, I came up to guest coach. I’m a fan of the game first and when I’m not coaching it anymore, I’ll be watching it. It’s a special league.”

And Reinebold is one of the characters that has made it famous.

His ability to get his coaching career back on track, while battling a form of skin cancer since February of 2010, is inspiring.

“It changes your perspective on everything,” said Reinebold. “I always thought I was a guy who enjoyed life and took every moment at face value. What it does teach you is that it’s very, very precious and until you sit in that room and that man walks in that room with that look on his face and tells you that you have cancer, you can’t even imagine the impact of those words.

“We’re conditioned psychologically to make that a death sentence but what you learn is that it’s not a death sentence, it’s an opportunity to live. To really, really live. I’m going to enjoy every second that I’ve got.”

ken.wiebe@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/WiebeSunSports 


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