THE Ottawa Redblacks called a bunch of names on Monday, and none of them were Mike Renaud or Steve Morley, a fact which suited those Blue Bombers just fine.
On Tuesday morning, both Canadians and pending free agents announced they had re-signed with Winnipeg, inking fresh deals to keep them in the city that has become a home.
"I can't see myself anywhere else except (in )blue and gold," Morley, the 6-7 offensive lineman, said as he towered over media at the Bombers store. "Today was a great day. I'm very happy to be staying in Winnipeg, and I look forward to 2014. I think things are going to be on the up."
Morley doesn't say this randomly. He was a Toronto Argonaut for a year in 2007, where he played alongside a linebacker named Mike O'Shea who "had the respect of everybody in the room," the lineman said. Flash forward to today, and O'Shea is the Bombers new head coach. The two have spoken already and Morley repeated that he was pleased with how he sees the team's trajectory.
Well, not that it could have been much worse.
Last season was a slog, that's obvious, and it was a tough one for Morley too. An injury broke the ironman streak he'd been riding, missing from the front five since joining the Bombers in 2009, and before that he was briefly demoted in favour of Paul Swiston. In all, he started 11 games on the line in 2013.
"Last season, it was very trying on everyone, including myself," Morley said. "I think things are going up from here."
On the other side, 30-year-old Renaud did play in all 18 games last season, and his average boot of 43.9 yards was up two sticks from his 2012 average. He's signed on now for three more years, though that doesn't mean he'll necessarily breathe easy when training camp rolls around. The Bombers have looked to push him before.
"That's the business that we're in," he said. "I expect competition in camp again, and I look forward to it."
The punter, too, voiced his support for the new Bomber regime, led by O'Shea, CEO Wade Miller and GM Kyle Walters.
"In the last five years, with the exception of the Grey Cup run, this is an incredible opportunity for these guys to come in and turn the ship around," he said.
There is a synchronicity in the signings, as both players just wrapped their fifth season with the Bombers. Both say they want to retire as Bombers, and so both are putting down deeper roots in the community. Renaud, who hails from Ottawa and honed the punting trade at Concordia, is getting married almost exactly a year from now.
Morley, a Nova Scotia kid who made it to the NFL, owns a house in Winnipeg. Morley and his partner Amie are getting ready to welcome twins in May.
Impending fatherhood has a way of making stability all the more appealing. "Anytime there's a baby, you want to be there during the early parts of their lives," Morley said.