Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New-look Blue sharp-dressed men Nice. Now where's Cup?

New jerseys pleasant distraction, but it's not the clothes that makes the team

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New jerseys, old jerseys, who cares? It's fine by me if they wear potato sacks over their pads so long as they win.

There was lots of fuss on Tuesday over the unveiling of new uniforms for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. There was feedback on everything from the look of the jerseys to the quality of the livestream on the team's website to the length of the proceedings.


It's all a big "who cares?" from this vantage point.

New jerseys are a fact of life for today's pro sports franchise and every couple of years fans can expect a new wrinkle or two. It's called merchandising and it makes the cash registers ring.

No one will complain about the cash grab if the Bombers are able to use the money to ink the talent needed to break a 20-years-and-counting Grey Cup drought.

The Bombers held the jersey launch in the dank basement of the Pan Am Boxing Club in the Exchange District. The event opened with a pair of amateur fighters slamming away at one another before moving to a discourse from local boxing supporter Harry Black, who described the connection between his sport and the Bombers name.

Black told of Winnipeg sportswriting legend Vince Leah travelling to New York to see a boxing card headlined by Joe Louis, aka The Brown Bomber. A year later Leah worked the nickname into his copy, referring to the Winnipeg Football Club as the "Blue Bombers of Western Football."

The name stuck and from 1936 that's how the team has officially been known.

The Bombers have worn all kinds of jerseys and helmets and logos and won 10 Grey Cups during their time. Tuesday's attempt to tie the new look to the past sat well with Hall of Fame offensive lineman Chris Walby.

"I like them. I like the fact they're going back to the Blue and Gold colours. I like the W logo and I like the gold," said Walby, arguably the greatest offensive lineman to ever play the Canadian game and a three-time Grey Cup champion. "I never liked playing in white. It always seemed like a surrender flag to me. So I like that we have a bit of colour."

Frankly, what anyone thinks of the jerseys matters not a whit. You like? Go buy one. You don't? Wear the one you bought in '61 or '81 or 2010.

What matters is what the jerseys represent. When Walby wore one, it meant champion. That hasn't been the case around here in a long stretch. So maybe this new version will bring some luck with it.

"Absolutely, we'd like to put some tradition into these new jerseys," said current Bombers offensive lineman Glenn January. "When you sign on as a Winnipeg Blue Bomber you sign on with a fraternity that has lasted for more than 80 years. All you hope to do is live up to the legend and leave the team in better form than you found it."

That's a nice sentiment to try and live up to but no one has done that since Walby's days. He says he'd still like to help out.

"Just seeing these jerseys gets my palms sweating," said Walby, in attendance with former linebacker Lamar McGriggs and lineman Glen Scrivener. "You always bleed blue and gold once you play for this team. You come to this and your heart starts pumping and you get the crazy thought in your head that you can still do it. I can put those pads on. Then you take two steps and your legs start cracking. With the stadium, the jerseys, the change in the organization and the good things that are being done from the alumni on up, these are good times for the Bombers and their fans."

We'll let Mr. Walby's words be the last on this subject, because unlike a fashion critic's, they stand for something bigger. They stand for what this organization used to be about and once again wants to be about.

Something great.

Twitter: @garylawless


Win or lose, they'll look good doing it

The Blue Bombers unveiled two new looks for their 2012 uniforms on Tuesday to go with a third jersey -- a popular royal blue colour that will be a replica of the jerseys the Bombers wore in the 1980s. Key changes to the look are as follows:

The Bombers will no longer wear white on the road, but will instead feature a gold top and blue bottom set.

The home uniforms will feature a blue top and gold bottom.

The pants on both sets will no longer feature a V-shaped stripe that begins narrow at the bottom and widens at the top.

The shoulder caps on both new jerseys will feature the new W logo.

What they're saying

"I think the jerseys look great. It took two-and-a-half years of looking at designs and listening to our fans who want the Blue and Gold colours. The players love them with the fit and look and way they feel"

-- Bombers vice-president of marketing Jerry Maslowsky.

"I've had the luxury of seeing all eight teams' jerseys and I'm a big fan of the Winnipeg gold. I think it will make a helluva statement to see gold instead of white as an away team. The player jersey has more moisture wicking so the jerseys stay lighter as the game goes on and they get wet. We changed the fabric in the body of the jersey to a lycra so it will be tighter and tougher to hold. We want the jersey to be the most comfortable for the player to wear"

-- Jamespencer Ranjitsingh, Reebok marketing coordinator, team services.

"This took 2 plus years to come up with? I'm not really noticing much of a change? The "W" is different but...I'm not very impressed"

-- Crafty Fox on

"I like them. Way better than Montreal and Hamilton's new jerseys"

-- Red River Man

video player to use on WFP

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 2, 2012 D1


Updated on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 8:49 AM CDT: Added video.

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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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