Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 11/25/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
REGINA -- Brendan Taman wore a slightly constipated look most of the weekend, but late Sunday he was one of the most relaxed people in the nation, having lifted 26 years of frustration off his shoulders.
Taman's Saskatchewan Roughriders turned the 101st Grey Cup into their coronation, their party and their rumpled GM's redemption.
A 45-23 pasting of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats sent a province draped in green into bedlam and jubilation. At the fringe of the celebration, but at the heart of the construction of this team, stood a smiling Taman.
"Amazing. Real gratifying and a relief. I've waited a long time and it feels great," said Taman, the remains of a sideline soaking still dripping from his hair and clothes. "It's sort of like a dream. You never feel relaxed in a game like this and I was real nervous coming in. Losing would have been a pretty big pill to swallow for a lot of people. I wanted to win but I didn't want to lose, too. If you can understand that. They made that push in the third quarter and I was still nervous. For three quarters, I was scared crapless. But now... wow."
Four times Taman had come to this game and four times he'd left a loser. Not this night. The GM who was chased out of Winnipeg after spending 10 years with the Bombers won it. The man who was discredited by Bombers coach Mike Kelly and taunted with sneers about his scouting work being second-rate and recorded on "napkins," is a champion today.
Taman schemed and traded and drafted and built this team to win on this day. And they did. In professional sports, the work is one thing and the results another. Taman now has the glory to go with the grinding.
-- Brendan Taman
Hiring head coach Corey Chamblin. Rebuilding his defensive secondary. Stealing free agent offensive guard Brendon LaBatte. Drafting tackle Ben Heenan. Dealing for veteran receiver Geroy Simon. Taman put his fingerprints all over this Riders team and by late Sunday night he finally put his hands on the Grey Cup.
The Riders were absolutely dominant, turning their hometown advantage into a thorough thumping of the Tiger-Cats. The Riders owned the line of scrimmage, controlled time of possession and won the special teams battle.
Nothing went Hamilton's way. Riders quarterback Darian Durant put the ball on the field three times in the first half and lost just one of the fumbles. The Ticats realized no points as a result of those miscues and one of Durant's fumbles actually turned into a 42-yard gain for teammate Kory Sheets.
The story on the field boiled down to the work of Sheets and his offensive line. The Riders running back broke a 57-year-old record, romping for 197 yards to set a Grey Cup mark.
LaBatte, who Taman drafted when he was in Winnipeg and then lifted from under the nose of sleepy Bomber GM Joe Mack, led the way up front.
"This is incredible. We worked together for 23 weeks and kept chipping away. This is a great bunch of guys and a great football team," said LaBatte.
Taman, despite having the acumen to uncover talents such as LaBatte, Doug Brown, Khari Jones, Simon, Charles Roberts, Chamblin and Arland Bruce over the years, had previously been unable to work his way into the club of championship GMs.
Make room Wally Buono, Jim Popp, Jim Barker, Jon Hufnagel et al. There is a new man with a ring on his hand.
"That doesn't sound right," said Taman, asked what it was like be mentioned in the same sentence as such CFL luminaries. "But I guess it's a reality. It's an amazing feeling to do it here. Those names you mention, well, I guess I have a few days to enjoy it and then I have to get back to work."
Twenty-six years in the league and a man who got his start at the bottom of the food chain as a practise gopher for the Riders, Taman has paid his dues and dealt with his share of heartache.
"It's hard when you lose. But so gratifying to win," said Taman. "I have so many people to thank. I texted my parents and just said, 'we did it.' I can't name all the people who have helped me and given me a chance. People like Lyle (Bauer) in Winnipeg. He believed in me and gave me a chance to be a GM."
The 46-year-old Saskatoon native will take a ride in a parade this week and soon be handed a healthy contract extension by Riders GM Jim Hopson. The days of questioning Taman and his work are over. Respect is his.
Taman spotted Jones as a backup quarterback when the two were with the B.C. Lions and a few years later traded to bring him to Winnipeg.
"This is destiny for us. I was with Brendan in B.C. and Winnipeg. He took a chance on me. I told him we would one day win together and I'm so thrilled for him," said Jones, openly weeping in the arms of his wife Justine following the game.
Taman was handed a grenade when the Riders were awarded the rights to host this Grey Cup and nothing but a win on Sunday would put the pin back in.
"It was a lot of hard work and I won't say there wasn't a lot of pressure," said Taman, smiling up at a wall of green-clad fans singing the Riders fight song. "To do it here, like this, I won't ever forget it and I don't think they will either."
email@example.com Twitter: @garylawless
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 25, 2013 0
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Sure things: Death, taxes and Pavelec in the pipes
Perreault ready to go
Future Shop stores closing, 1,500 jobs lost
Boko Haram kills 41, prevents hundreds voting in Nigeria
Lights out Saturday for Earth Hour
Chaotic start to Copp's career
There's been little progress in uniting the NDP since leadership turmoil
Canada's Eugenie Bouchard upset at Miami Open
Local businessman has a plan for a Winnipeg without rail lines
The XXX Factor: Sex and relationships in a digital world
Perreault could be in Sunday's Jets lineup against Chicago
Painstaking search continues after NYC blast, but hope dims
The final countdown: Here's how the Jets' charge for a playoff spot shakes down
Two reservists hurt, one seriously, as military truck strikes bridge
Police investigate two deaths on Sioux Valley First Nation
For cancer survivor Don Dietrich, heaven is a hockey rink in the Rockies
Look for blustery end to March
A local artist has been painting portraits of indigenous people who died tragically
The $4.4-B promise: Conservatives hiking child-care benefit ahead of election
Arts, shopping, nightlife... wait a minute, this is Saskatoon?
The calm before the (summer) storm
Police issue description of suspect seen exposing himself
For owners of dance club / 1980s-style arcade, finding vintage amusements was the hardest part
Goldeyes are consistent winners on the field and in the stands
Transcona-raised pro wrestler Kenny Omega is literally big in Japan
24-storey D CONDO TOWER set to rise on site of the former Restaurant Dubrovnik
Winnipeg's Nostalgia Radio finds supporters and success as non-profit co-op
A favourite few: Too difficult to pick just one favourite grape
The vacation bucket list
Of faith and music
Here's your weekend weather in Winnipeg
Cases show vulnerability of privacy with spy cams
Slow and savoury: Braised brisket to warm your soul
WSO brings the spirit of Beethoven to life
Wheaties turn tables, pound Oil Kings to square series
Former Winnipeg councillor Amaro Silva was 'dedicated to making Winnipeg a better place'
Flood risk low, but in other news...
Workshops for women worthwhile
Marine repair business that runs out of owner's cottage at odds with Manitoba Conservation
Man accused of driving ATV drunk and killing friend says he drank after the crash, not before