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Remember the stadium, forget this team

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The next time this town convenes for a pro football game it will be at Winnipeg’s new football stadium. Hopefully, Winnipeg will have a football team.

This proud football city, with its legacy of champions and gladiators, watched an imposter dressed in blue and gold this season.

They didn’t fight for wins, they didn’t claw for yards and they didn’t strive for excellence. They finished 6-12. They wrote the final chapter in one of Canada’s grandest old stadiums. It’s not worth reading. Not fit to be remembered but for its scope of failure.

Do these players have a future? Maybe. But before we turn the page, let’s take a long, hard look at the present. It’s dismal. Short on character and long on failure.

The mistakes of youth? Let’s hope so.

Injuries? People get hurt in football. Every team deals with injuries. Losers defer to adversity. Winners expect it and prepare for it then chew it up and spit it out.

Not these Bombers. Adversity ate them whole and didn’t even stop to chew.

It’s time to once again expect and demand more of the men that wear Blue Bombers jerseys.

Pack up the helmets and pads and move them to the new field. But leave the losing and the losers behind.

A Blue Bombers supporter chided me at the CFL Hall of Fame dinner on Friday night for not writing more positive articles about his team. Believe me, carping and chirping and complaining about the Bombers has grown old. Way old.

A championship and a parade would be just as welcome in the press box as it would be in the stands.

GM Joe Mack says the talent is already housed in Winnipeg to achieve great things. He is about to embark on the most scrutinized off-season to unfold in these parts in some time.

The biggest and most pressing need is for an answer at quarterback. Already the rumour mill has Mack interested in acquiring Calgary Stampeders quarterback Kevin Glenn. A Calgary insider found the notion interesting and quickly spat out the name Chris Matthews as a trade possibility.

Doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it? Trading the best young receiver in the league for a veteran quarterback. A quarterback, who attracts wildly differing opinions, and was once run out of this town.

But that’s the situation Mack finds himself in. He’s dithered for three years with the triumvirate of Buck Pierce, Joey Elliot and Alex Brink. Now, according to his boss Garth Buchko, it’s win or else.

This is how bad trades happen. GMs get backed into a corner and make desperate moves. Most teams are built from the quarterback out. Draft or sign a young quarterback and then add parts around him while he matures.

If one believes the premise that Winnipeg is solid everywhere but at quarterback, Mack is about to attempt to pull the reverse and plug in a passer.

Maybe Mack can push the right buttons and fill this void. It would go a long way to removing the burn of this season’s hot mess.

After the game Saturday, a video played on the scoreboard celebrating the great teams and champions that once roamed the field in the heart of our city.

The stands were less than half full for what should have been a momentous culmination of a half century of football.

But it was all preceded by a meaningless game. It sucked the import and sentiment out of the day.

It’s time for better days. It’s time to move on from the old park and the team that was in 2012.

Let’s remember the stadium.

But forget this team.

Twitter: @garylawless


Updated on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 6:51 PM CDT: Fix cutline.

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.


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