Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bombers should relish chance to write new chapter

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It is an opportunity for a football team that comes around only once every half century or so: The chance to write the next chapter and define a new era for a club with 83 years of history.

The book on the seven Grey Cup championships and the 23-year Grey Cup drought Canad Inns Stadium was most famous for is now closed.

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While the historians will argue the drought carries over to Investors Group Field, this stadium has no relationship with any of the successes or failures of the previous building.

It may have ties to the third most Grey Cup wins in CFL history, and the most Grey Cup appearances of all time, but only by the colours of the team that will play in it.

The memories, celebrations and disappointments it will host will be entirely its own, and the 2013 Winnipeg Football Club roster, whether they like it or not, are completely in charge of not only christening this vessel, but writing the first pages of its indoctrination into the CFL.

More often than not, save for the rarest of years, players join teams that play in buildings with histories and reputations. They walk into trends and pasts and streaks that make their presence known and can inundate the psyche of a player who represents them.

Statistical expectations can be an added burden to an athlete that is unfamiliar with the geography, let alone the history and trends of the building they are playing in.

Remembering back to the most successful years I was a part of this football franchise, it is no coincidence many of the first place divisional finishes came hand in hand with rosters that were too naive and ignorant about what they were getting into to realize they were bucking trends. We often won games where previous teams had failed, quite simply because we didn't know any better.

In the weeks leading up to a game, when you read how you have previously fared against a team at home, you may begin to perpetuate that expectation. When you have personally experienced a team visiting time and again, and having everything go right for them and wrong for you, you have to wonder whether a culture of losing can manifest itself in a building.

While the memories and opponents of 2012 are sure to still be fresh in the minds of many of this 2013 roster, those experiences can all be left behind in a building that is now demolished.

Similar

Coming out of training camp, it is said this team is remarkably similar to the one that underachieved in 2012. Yet the biggest change to this roster is the one everyone can see from kilometres away. They are the recipients and temporary tenants of a tremendous upgrade in facilities, amenities, professionalism and pride. And they can start any number of positive trends, be it consecutive playoff streaks, winning records, and even championship runs, in Year 1.

Not only will the 2013 football squad usher in the new stadium and leave its mark as a team, but Thursday will also signify the first of a minimum of nine opportunities this season the players will have to distinguish themselves with achievements of individual excellence.

Canad Inns, in more recent years, was the site of legendary and record-breaking performances from the likes of Milt Stegall, Charles Roberts and Khari Jones. They are but a few of the permanent ties to the recent history of that stadium.

It is very possible Investors Group Field will be the spawning ground for legends in the making such as Henoc Muamba, Chad Simpson, Chris Matthews or a Glenn January.

The cement is not yet dried on the finest stadium in Canada and the players on this roster have the opportunity to leave their footprints in it, in an inaugural season that will always define a new beginning for a football club.

It is almost clich© how teams try to make a push above and beyond the call of duty when they are hosting a Grey Cup, when they have the chance to become the home team and participate in it. Yet how will this team perform with an exponentially higher honour, the opportunity to launch a new brand and new era of Bomber football?

We have only two days longer to wait to find out.

 

Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays and game days in the Free Press.

 

Twitter: @DougBrown97

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 25, 2013 C4

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