"A KICK team is composed of 12 players and one of those players is kicking the football, but all 12 have a responsibility to play the ball with proper leverage and make the tackle when the opportunity comes along."
Craig Dickenson, new Winnipeg Blue Bomber special teams coach, was quoted as saying this last Friday in a Paul Wiecek article, and as I read it I spit coffee all over the newsprint in front of me.
You want to talk crazy, coach Dickenson? You want make headlines around the world with your backwards talk? Let's talk crazy. Time to put in a call into Ed Molstad, legal counsel for the CFL Players' union.
Cue Get Lucky ring tone by Daft Punk.
NotEdMolstad: Hello, this is not Ed Molstad, head of the CFLPA, the most powerful union in..... How can I help you?
RetiredPlayer: How are you? Doug Brown here, calling from the Bob Irving Media Centre an alcohol-friendly zone where the media drinks for free because they can't see $%#^! Listen we got a problem brewing in Winnipeg and you need to get on top of this STAT!
NotEdMolstad: You are aware you are no longer the player rep in Winnipeg, and you retired 15 months ago?
RetiredPlayer: We don't have time for semantics Ed. How is that relevant when anarchy is reigning with the Winnipeg Football Club? Pigs are flying, hell is freezing, Mike Kelly is the new director of public relations...
NotEdMolstad: Have you been tested for dementia lately Douglas? According to your medical file, with the number of concussions you incurred the last 15 years...
RetiredPlayer: Stay on topic Ed. Broccoli. Um... oh... yes, what is the union description and detail for the job of "kicker" as you know it?
NotEdMolstad: Well, according to the handbook, for the position of kicker, it says: "The ability to punt, kick off, place kick, or drop kick the football, behind a wall of blockers, followed by a swift retreat to the safety of the sideline."
RetiredPlayer: That's what I thought. The new special teams coach, Craig Dickenson, is spitting in the face of tradition, and has obviously not read the job description. He said, and I quote, "All 12 players have a responsibility to play the ball with proper leverage and make the tackle when the opportunity comes along." And by everybody, I think he means the kickers too!
NotEdMolstad: That's absurd. You are $&#$-ing with me. Responsibility to play the ball? Play with the ball on the sideline during practice maybe, but in a game? He was obviously kidding.
RetiredPlayer: Swear to god. It's in the Free Press and they always tell the truth. The last two times Mike Renaud ran down the field to cover a kick after a punt in 2010 and 2011, he broke two different parts of his body. They aren't built for that $&#*.
NotEdMolstad: What the hell do they think this is? A rugby team? Are they going to rotate Justin Palardy in on the defensive line on passing downs? Bob Cameron didn't get to play for 23 years and punt for 134,301 yards because he had to tackle somebody! Lui Passaglia and Troy Westwood had careers that spanned nearly half a century. How are they supposed to do that if they have to, "leverage the ball and make tackles?" Kickers stay out of harm's way. It's an unspoken rule. Hell, you can't even hit the guy that snaps them the ball anymore!
RetiredPlayer: Well maybe this is a new era and brand of football? A world where kickers take part in contact drills and play scout team during inside-run period, instead of paddy-cake on the sideline? A new approach where kickers work their football skills all practice, instead of massaging their hamstrings and talking about Starbucks lattes. An era where they get equal respect from their teammates because they bleed, get their brains scrambled, bones broken, and no longer have careers that last longer than plastic water bottles?
NotEdMolstad: That will never happen. We hire ex-soccer players for $&$#&-sakes because they can kick a ball and know how to flop like they're shot if anybody touches them. If they want these guys to run down field and hit people, they better start bringing over some of those Aussie Rules hard @$$##es. And they better get four kickers on their roster ASAP!
RetiredPlayer: Too late Ed, it's already happened. A new dawn is upon us. The kicker as the 12th special-teamer and a real football player. Better get used to it.
Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays and game days in the Free Press.