Sometime in the next few months the good folks in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers marketing department will put their aching heads together and begin tossing around ideas for what will easily be the toughest gig in all of professional sports:
Coming up with a catchy phrase to sell the 2014 edition of your local football squad.
So, after watching the Bombers fall to 3-13 Saturday — a loss that means this organization has now missed the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years — we have some early 2014 slogan front-runners:
"It Really Can’t Get Any Worse... Can It?"
"Hey, At Least We’re Not The Eskimos. Oh, Wait..."
"Game Day, We All Pray"
"Fully Stocked Rum Hut"
"More Grey Cup Titles Than The RedBlacks"
Now, as head coach Tim Burke stepped in front of the podium early Saturday evening to offer up his take on what went wrong against the Toronto Argonauts, it was actually hard not to feel a bit sorry for the man who took over an absolutely horrid team last year and was asked to make chicken salad out of chicken spit.
He talked about mistakes like dropped passes, the most glaring a whiff by Cory Watson near the end of the first half.
He talked about a missed field goal in which holder Mike Renaud — after spinning the ball for Sandro DeAngelis to get the laces out — actually had the ol’ pigskin slip off the tee.
He talked about a swack of penalties, referring especially to a J.T. Gilmore unnecessary roughness no-no in the second quarter that had defensive co-ordinator Casey Creehan absolutely losing it on the sidelines.
And he talked about the football clanging off the upright on a Max Hall pass attempt to an open Clarence Denmark, that might be the one play that perfectly represents the 2013 season.
"It seems like this is the year that this is going to happen," said Burke. "You’re just going to have those fluky kind of things happen. Hopefully, next year they won’t happen."
(Another Bombers’ 2014 slogan entry: "All The Fluky (insert bad word) Is Out Of Our System"
So, now that 2013 has officially been made a write-off, how exactly do the Bombers sell 2014?
It doesn’t have to be complicated, although it’s clear this franchise really has to pucker up and get into full butt-kissing mode with its faithful.
First, selling 2014 would start — check that, COULD start — with the organization ending the uncertainty in the football operations department, dumping the "acting" titles from new boss Wade Miller and GM Kyle Walters. After all, it’s hard to sell stability when all the office doors feature names scribbled on strips of masking tape.
It would come with pulling any strings, working some magic and/or doing any kind of voodoo, to land a legit QB prospect before Christmas, because no single issue has plagued the Bombers over the last few years than the weekly questions about the man who takes the first snap from centre.
The promising Zach Collaros in Toronto comes to mind. Any one of Calgary’s three pivots would be an upgrade. Heck, anybody... just as long as his name doesn’t include the words "Michael" and "Bishop."
Most of all, selling 2014 could be hammered home with just a simple message from the bosses: here’s what’s wrong and here are the fundamental keys to the blueprint that’s going to fix it. And then there needs to be cold, hard evidence that plan is being put into place ASAP.
(Bombers 2013 slogan, given the wonders of hindsight: "Look At The Lipstick on THIS Pig!")
After all, no franchise should suck this bad for this long in an eight-team loop.