The Bombers ended their last practice of the year today, two days before they face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the last game of the season, and days before they put this year behind them and try, at least, to move on.
Some will leave on a higher note than others: linebacker Henoc Muamba for instance, who was announced as the 2013 winner of the Bombers’ Ed Kotowich Good Guy Award for his service in the community. That honour followed being named the Bombers' most outstanding player, Canadian and defensive player in the annual team awards.
Muamba, who is heading into free agency and is expected to weigh his opportunities, described the last day as being a little bittersweet. "Probably next week already, once playoffs start, I know I’m going to be at home watching and I’m going to miss it," he said.
"At the same time, you look back on the season that was. There was some good things that happened, and you keep that in your back pocket, but obviously the things that didn’t work out, you want to improve on, and that’s what we’re going to do. So you kind of reflect, but look forward to next year as well."
On that note, the final practice of the year was "upbeat," coach Tim Burke said, "probably because it was the last practice."
Which is good, because despite the fact that all the Bombers are battling for now is a chance not to tie their worst-ever 18-game season record, the plan is still to win on Saturday.
For the fans, yes, but for the future too. Whether or not Burke will be a part of that equation is still publicly unknown, though his choice of words after practice hammered home how much he has accepted the significant chance he will not be back.
"I think everybody wants to win a game," Burke said. "I think guys want to make sure they put out a good resume for whoever is coaching staff next year, or if they’re free agents in the league."
Meanwhile, Burke declined to specify which players he was referring to earlier in the week, when he spoke of Bombers who had seemed to check out of the season already this week. There was a "handful" of players that had shown their "true colours" in practice already by Tuesday, Burke said, and as a result they would likely not play against the Ticats.
Who that is, though, or if it includes any players currently listed as injured, Burke would not say. "I would say you’ll see in the offseason," he said. "They won’t be here."