Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
The debacle continues, with no relief in sight
Wade Miller is used to waking up after football games with a headache. But the pain Miller is feeling this morning won’t go away with a little Aspirin.
In case Miller and the rest of this province weren’t sure about the state of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the point was mercilessly driven home Friday nfuight.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, now the owners of a shiny 3-4 record, came in and toyed with the Bombers, walking away with a 37-18 victory. It wasn’t even a competition. It was a walk. A laugher. A stomping. An unfair fight. In the end, it was another slap in the face to the history of this organization and the fans that give it blood and money.
The Bombers are awful. Maybe historically dreadful. They are short on talent. Their heart is questionable and the coaching staff has not been able to pull any results from these players.
They have taken one of the most vibrant and soulful fanbases in the CFL and turned them into a morose band of doubters. They have robbed Winnipeg football fans of their joy. It is beyond a debacle. It is a disgrace.
The Bombers are now 1-6 and it is glaringly apparent former GM Joe Mack left the cupboard bare. It’s like the organization was robbed and nothing of value was left behind.
Miller must find a way to now convince the 32,409 folks that were in the stands and the hundreds of thousands at home watching on TV not to tune out as yet another rebuild begins.
The Bombers have provided no evidence they are going to rebound and turn this season into some kind of made-for-the-big-screen miracle. They’re a bad football team and they may get worse. If you told me they were going to finish 1-17 or 2-16, I wouldn’t be able to offer an argument.
The offensive line doesn’t compete. The receivers are lazy and soft. The defensive backs are like a soup kitchen. Everybody eats for free and no one gets turned aside.
The quarterbacking has been the worst in the league and despite some promising moments from Max Hall in his first CFL start, it’s unlikely that will change anytime soon.
Offensive coordinator Gary Crowton has been in a fight for his job all season and he may have lost it Friday night. No one should be surprised if he gets fired over the weekend and newcomer Marcel Bellefeuille is promoted to the position.
Silver linings? Word is we’re gonna get another blast of summer around here. So we’ve got that going for us.
I won’t insult you with some faint hope clause regarding this football team. I made the mistake of picking the Bombers to win on Friday night. That won’t happen again for a long, long, long time.
Winnipeg has the worst football team in the country. Edmonton might try and fight us for that title by year’s end but right now the Eskimos can take a backseat to the Bombers in futility.
The one thing seen more than anything else at Bombers games this season is people leaving before the game is over. Their team is almost always dead in the water with lots of clock left in the fourth so people hit the exits early. Can’t blame them. But Miller has to be worried that will turn into them not coming at all.
So far the fans have been unwavering in their support. They love their Blue even through this most trying of times.
Without question the best thing about the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is the people that buy tickets to their games. Keep them. Get rid of the rest.
Miller says he likes a challenge. Well, he’s got one. Not only must he figure out how to get this organization back on track, he’s got to find a way to keep his fans on board.
The Bombers faithful were pushed too far in the 1990s and they left for a time. The franchise almost went bankrupt.
It’s not an exaggeration to suggest the Bombers are now condition critical. This team is now 21-40 over the last four seasons. They have abused the trust put in them by their fans. No one would blame them for turning in their membership cards.
Miller needs to do the sales job of his career or he’ll find himself in a financial freefall fuelled by a huge stadium debt and flagging ticket revenue.
If you think things are bad for your Bombers today, you’re right. If you think it can’t get worse, you’re wrong.
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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 www.winnipegfreepress.com
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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